On October 1, 1990, the University of Washington (UW) opens its Bothell Branch with 155 juniors and seniors. The location at the Canyon Park Business Center is temporary until construction of a permanent campus is completed in September 2000.
In 1984, Governor Booth Gardner created the Higher Education Coordinating Board to plan for the future of colleges and universities in Washington. In 1986, the Board proposed branch campuses for both the UW and Washington State University to serve upper-division students who come out of the community college system. The branch campus concept was attractive to older students with families and careers who could not commute to universities to complete their degrees. At that time, Washington state had 20 percent fewer upper-division students than the national average. In 1989, the Board chose Bothell and Tacoma as branch campuses for the University of Washington. It chose Spokane, Tri-Cities (Pasco-Kennewick-Hanford), and Vancouver as branch campuses for Washington State University.
UW President William Gerberding worried that investing in upper-division campuses would drain resources that would allow more freshmen and sophomores to attend universities. Earl Hale, head of the state community college system, was concerned that lower-division academic students would crowd into community colleges at the expense of vocational programs.
The Bothell Branch moved to its permanent location southeast of Interstate 405 and State Route 522 in September 2000.