LeRoy Zimmerman will open historic talks tonight that will determine the future home of The Dickinson School of Law. He said he is certain of one thing: The 35 people deciding whether Dickinson should stay in Carlisle or move to State College could spend a lot of time arguing. The board will make a decision tomorrow and announce it by noon.
"I have a sense it's going to be a close vote," he said.
Zimmerman, chairman of Dickinson's board of governors, said the group will hear from faculty today before talks begin at 6:30 p.m.
A law school spokeswoman said it was unclear if board member Tom Ridge, national Homeland Security secretary, and Lewis Katz, owner of the New Jersey Nets, will attend, although they will vote.
Members can vote by telephone, board member Hubert X. Gilroy said.
With nearly a third of the board, including Gilroy, composed of midstate lawyers, the debate is likely to feature arguments for maintaining Dickinson's home in Carlisle.
The Harrisburg Regional Chamber & Capital Region Economic Development Corp. this week called for the board to keep Dickinson in Carlisle.
Penn State, Dickinson's parent institution, pledged to build the school a $60 million facility at University Park. Dickinson Dean Philip McConnaughay said the board should take the offer because a move to the large research university would improve academic offerings and boost Dickinson's rankings.
Gilroy said he'll vote to keep Dickinson in Carlisle, but not because of sentiment.
"I do not fault the [Penn State] administration for seeking to relocate Dickinson to [State College]. Such a maneuver may enhance the overall reputation of Penn State University," Gilroy said.
But board members have to decide what's best for Dickinson, not Penn State, he said.
Gilroy said a Dickinson committee formed last year to study ways to boost the school's rankings didn't suggest moving the school. It recommended lowering tuition, reducing class size and doing a better job of promoting Dickinson to attract top students.
"I really believe the board members are going to do the best thing for the students. That's their polestar," board member Zygmunt Bialkowski said.
Jan Murphy contributed to this report. ELIZABETH GIBSON: 249-2006 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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FILEART; DAN GLEITER; Caption: Dickinson School of Law students Rene Gornall, left, and Sarah Jolly study in the school's law library in Carlisle. Dickinson Law's board of governors will decide this weekend whether to keep the school in Carlisle or move it to State College.; A decision on whether to move The Dickinson School of Law to State College is to be announced by noon tomorrow.