Dickinson School of Law and Penn State University had been living together so long that when their marriage became official, even the parents of the bridal couple failed to pay much attention.
The law school dean, Peter Glenn, is in Europe for the law school's international program. Penn State President Graham Spanier was at home in State College, awaiting his daughter's return from camp.
"The details [of the merger] have been in place for so long now that July 1 will indeed be uneventful for us," Spanier said last week. The 81,000-student university sought a merger with the independent private law school in 1997 to fill a gap in its vast academic offerings. The law school, which enrolls about 550 students, agreed to a three-year trial relationship before making the union official.
Since then, signs that the merger would be a good move for the law school became apparent, said Donald Taylor, a Wilmington, Del., resident who chairs the law school's board. Fund-raising is up fourfold. Applications have risen 36 percent in the last year, compared with a 3 percent increase at other law schools around the nation.
"The merger could not have been any smoother and a lot of that is thanks to the dean [Glenn]," Taylor said.
Penn State officials also credit Glenn and his staff for making the merger go off so smoothly.
"We knew before we began to proceed with plans for the merger that Dickinson School of Law was an institution with similar values and culture. ... We couldn't be more pleased," said Rodney Erickson, Penn State executive vice president and provost.
A prenuptial agreement hammered out between the two institutions guarantees the law school will keep its Dickinson name and its main campus will remain in Carlisle. It also allows the law school to retain its financial independence, preventing it from becoming a cash cow for the university.
Cumberland County President Judge George E. Hoffer, a 1966 law school alumnus, gave his blessing to the contract on May 24, clearing the way for the union to occur.
That left little to do July 1 at the law school that now officially goes by its married name: Dickinson School of Law of the Pennsylvania State University.