CARLISLE -- Three members of the Dickinson School of Law's board of governors have asked a court to block a two-campus plan agreed on last month by Penn State and a majority of the law school board, fearing it may signal the eventual disappearance of the Carlisle campus. The three opponents, G. Thomas Miller, Leslie Anne Miller and emeritus member Tom Monteverde, said in a complaint filed Thursday in Cumberland County Court that the original 1997 merger of the schools required Penn State to keep the law school in Carlisle forever and maintain the campus as the law school's primary location.
The plan proposed by Penn State and approved by a 17-14 vote of the board on Jan. 15 is an attempt to "unilaterally terminate the merger agreement," the complaint said.
The new plan, which was approved by the Penn State board of trustees on Jan. 21, says the university would keep the Carlisle campus open for at least 10 years while it develops a second campus at University Park. It would dissolve the 1997 merger agreement and the law school board of governors by Aug. 1.
Replacing the governors, according to the plan, will be a new seven-member board. Penn State President Graham Spanier will appoint three members from the current board.
And current Dickinson board President H. Laddie Montague Jr. also will serve on it and appoint three other members.
The opponents asked the court to rule that Penn State has no right to do any of this.
Spanier, who was named as a defendant in the complaint, said last month that Penn State has no intention of closing the Carlisle campus.
"We expect to be in Carlisle for the long term," Spanier said. "This is not a short-term proposition for us."
Under the new agreement, Penn State will pour up to $40 million into renovations at the Carlisle campus. Spanier has said the university's board of trustees could appoint an architect to work on renovating the Carlisle campus as early as September. Renovations there could be finished in as few as four years.
Meanwhile, Spanier has said plans for the University Park campus could take place at the same time or start soon after the work in Carlisle begins.
The 32-page complaint filed by the plan opponents notes that Penn State attempted in 2003 to relocate the entire law school to State College.
By last June, that proposal was replaced by the two-campus proposal.
"The lawsuit, which we believe to have no merit, will not weaken our resolve to provide outstanding educational opportunities in Carlisle and at University Park for our current and future students," said Bill Mahon, a university spokesman.
Cumberland County Judge Edward Guido will preside over the case, scheduled for noon Feb. 18 at the Cumberland County Courthouse, according to a report by the Carlisle Sentinel.