The Tennessee Higher Education Commission voted Thursday morning to allow Knoxville College to start enrolling students again.

The board approved an associate degree program to reactivate the HBCU which has been operating since 1875.

"Still a long way to go, but the first big step has been taken," District 13 Representative Eddie Smith wrote in a tweet Thursday.

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The college suspended classes indefinitely in 2015, and staff members were ordered to move out of the last two campus buildings previously deemed safe enough to occupy in early 2017.

Knoxville College first filed paperwork with THEC in March 2017, and representatives from Knoxville College and THEC had been going back and forth for more information over at the end of 2018, according to THEC Assistant Executive Director and Lead Attorney Julie Woodruff.

In January, Knoxville College told 10News if approved it planned to offer a Liberal Studies Associate of Arts degree, which would be a two-year general studies associates degree.

PREVIOUS STORY: Knoxville College working to reopen in 2018

The only campus building the college is currently able to use is the church annex which houses administrative offices, Knoxville College President Keith Lindsey told 10News in January.

The Tenn. Higher Ed. Commission approved 52 reauthorizations, 22 new programs and 8 expedited authorizations for private institutions seeking to operate in the state.