CARLISLE A proposed plan for one Penn State law school with campuses in Carlisle and State College could mean changes for faculty, students and the State College community.
The Penn State Dickinson School of Law's board of governors voted unanimously Saturday to further study the idea of having one law school with two campuses that would both offer full-scale legal education. Penn State President Graham Spanier has called the plan a "unique concept in American higher education."
LeRoy Zimmerman, the chairman of Dickinson's board, will appoint seven board members to serve on a committee to further study the issue. That committee is scheduled to present its findings to the entire board Aug. 15. If the plan is approved, Penn State's board of trustees would address the proposal at its Sept. 10 meeting.
"Yes, we have work to do, but, yes, we are making progress," Zimmerman said Saturday.
If the dual-campus plan is approved, Penn State would likely be posting some "help wanted" ads. Spanier said he expects to hire at least a dozen new faculty members in order to bring the student/faculty ratio down from 19-1 to 15-1. The new faculty would have expertise in areas such as patents, technology, agriculture and engineering, among others, he said.
Spanier also said he anticipates that existing Dickinson faculty will either stay in Carlisle or opt to move to State College. New hires would fill in the gaps.
Spanier said Penn State is prepared to invest $70 million in both campuses.
A new $60 million building at the University Park campus would be occupied in 2008 should the plan be approved, Spanier said. He said the first class there would have 150 students, and enrollment at that location would ramp up to 450. The Carlisle location would serve 300 students.
Dickinson students would enroll at one campus but would have the option to spend a semester taking classes at the other location or through videoconferencing. Each location would have an "appropriate complement of faculty, materials and support services," Spanier said.
Law students will have the same access to campus housing as other graduate students at University Park, Spanier said, adding that new housing was recently constructed on the West Campus.
But opponents of any move to University Park have their reservations.
"A move guarantees newness; it does not guarantee improvement," said state Sen. Hal Mowery, R-Lemoyne, who addressed the board Saturday. "The traditions, the connections, the loyalty -- all are found here."