In a move that highlights its commitment to optics education, the University of Central Florida in Orlando has become the first major US university to officially designate its optics and photonics program as a freestanding college. According to James Pearson, associate director of the College of Optics and Photonics, this places the optics program on a par functionally with the school's other colleges, including those of engineering and art. For example, it has the same reporting structure as the other entities and no longer reports to the vice president of research. This restructuring, which Pearson sees as a sign of the maturing of the optics and photonics industry, also is designed to draw more research funding as well as new professors and students to the school. The college, which houses the Center for Research and Education in Optics and Lasers (CREOL) and the Florida Photonics Center for Excellence, has 36 teaching and research professors and close to 150 graduate students. There is discussion about offering undergraduate degrees in optics within the next few years.