ARDMORE, Okla. -- A four-year branch campus in Ardmore been a hot issue in southern Oklahoma for months, and it was the topic of discussion for Oklahoma lawmakers on Friday at the Legislative Luncheon in Ardmore.
Last September, board of trustees at the Ardmore Higher Ed Center recommended East Central University establish a branch campus in Ardmore, but that was just one of several steps to establish a four-year college in Ardmore.
Now local and state officials are getting ready to move forward with the process.
Earlier this week, House Bill 2889, otherwise known as the Higher Ed Bill, was passed by the Oklahoma House of Representatives.
Senator Johnnie Crutchfield and Representatives Terry Hyman and Greg Piatt have all been working collectively on the Higher Education Bill, which would transition Ardmore’s Higher Education Center into a four-year branch campus.
The Higher Ed Bill failed in the state senate twice .earlier in this year’s legislative session, so lawmakers say they are excited to now be able to move towards the possibility of having a four-year college in Ardmore.
"The committee system in the House of Representatives really saw the need. It was easier to sell in the House than in the Senate because of that we were able to advance the bill and make people know we have a need for a higher education center in southern Oklahoma," Terry Hyman (D), District 49 Representative, said.
Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Oklahoma State University, Murray State College, and East Central University would all provide classes at the branch campus.
The bill still has quite a bit of red tape to go through. Final amendments are set to be complete sometime in May.