U-WIRE-10/23/2002-Pennsylvania State U.: Penn State law school struggles with diversity, dean says (C) 2002 Daily Collegian Via U-WIRE
By James S. Young, Daily Collegian (Pennsylvania State U.)
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Pennsylvania State University's Dickinson School of Law students have the lowest LSAT scores in the Big Ten, lack diversity and are slipping in rankings.
That is the law school's bleak status, Dean Phillip McConnaughay told the University Faculty Senate at their meeting Tuesday.
McConnaughay was confident, however, that the school's "slide in academic reputation" can be repaired.
He said the student to faculty ratios have been dropping, as well as the LSAT scores that are now lowest in the Big Ten. "The diversity of our student body is unacceptably low," McConnaughay added.
Black students comprise 2.6 percent of the student body, and a total of 7.6 percent are minorities.
Meanwhile, other Big Ten law schools have much more diversity.
Michigan State University and Ohio State University have more than 20 percent minorities, and University of Illinois and Northwestern University have more than 30 percent minorities, McConnaughay said.
But Dickinson's lack of diversity does not extend to the school's faculty.
"We have one of the most diverse faculties in the Big Ten," he said.
One remedy to the school's problems McConnaughay offered was for prospective students to know the credentials of the faculty who would be teaching them.
"We need to get the word about who we are and how inclusive we are," he said.
"Penn State Dickinson is not lacking in attributes. We are failing to convey the attributes to law school applicants," McConnaughay added.
He said the school must also adjust to law's increasing international demand and the "intermingling" of science and law.
Penn State is supplying the school with funds to hire new faculty to replace retiring senior faculty, he said.
The school's tuition increased 20.9 percent this year.
Also yesterday, Executive Vice President and Provost Rodney Erickson presented the university's budget for the 2003-04 academic year.
The budget calls for a $14.5 million increase in state funding, which, if honored, would result in a 6.5 percent tuition increase at Penn State next year.
The Penn State Board of Trustees approved the budget at its September meeting.
Erickson said after the meeting it is too early to speculate on how much more tuition would increase if Pennsylvania does not honor Penn State's request for an appropriation increase this year.
For the 2002-03 academic year, the state decreased Penn State funding by 3.65 percent, which led to a 13.5 percent tuition increase.
Erickson said in the midst of tuition increases, competitive faculty salaries continue to be a concern.
Kathleen Lodwick, history professor at Lehigh Valley Campus, asked Erickson why there is a disparity in faculty salaries between Commonwealth Campuses.
She also said certain professor salary levels were comparable to poverty levels.
Erickson said he was astonished at the low salaries brought in by a dean at one particular branch campus.
"The greatest problem we have encountered over the years is many of our department heads have not hired at appropriately high enough salaries," he said.
Erickson said the particular deans are being made aware of funds to bring faculty salaries to an appropriate level.