Wednesday, January 15, 1997

Early Questions & Answers About Merger

The Harrisburg Patriot

Copyright 1997

Wednesday, January 15, 1997


TOPICWATCH: Dickinson School of Law-Penn State Q&A

Kenn Marshall
Patriot News

On Monday, it was announced that Penn State and the Dickinson School of Law are about to approve a plan to merge, with the law school becoming The Dickinson School of Law of the Pennsylvania State University.

Here are some questions and answers on issues dealing with the merger.

Q. Why did Dickinson School of Law give up its independence now when it has been so reluctant to do so in the past?

A. Robert M. Frey, president of the law school's board of trustees, may have summed up the board's reasoning best when he said, ?While the past is good, the past isn't good enough for the future.'

Q. What does Dickinson gain by merging with such a large institution as Penn State?

A. The national reputation that comes with the Penn State name, along with additional resources, including access to the university's libraries and faculty. Penn State also has one of the most extensive telecommunications networks of any university in the nation. Dickinson will be tapped into that network.

Q. What does Penn State gain in the merger?

A. This is perhaps the easiest question to answer. It gets a law school, the lone ?missing link? in its academic offerings referred to by President Graham Spanier. By taking over an existing school, the university avoids the tremendous costs associated with starting a new school and the difficult task of getting it accredited and attracting students. Dickinson School of Law already has established its reputation in the legal community. It would take a new school years to earn that status.

Q. What is the timetable for the merger?

A. Penn State's Board of Trustees must vote on the plan when it meets Friday. If it decides to go ahead with the merger, the university will begin the process of taking over the law school on July 1. All Dickinson faculty and staff would become Penn State employees on that date.

The merger would be complete in three years.

Q. Will state money be used to fund the law school once it is owned by Penn State?

A. Spanier said the university does not intend to seek any state funds to help support the law school.

Q. Will the $14,500 annual tuition rate currently charged by Dickinson come down?

A. Not likely, Spanier said. Because Penn State doesn't plan to pump any state funds into the law school, the tuition probably will remain the same. Dickinson's rate currently is higher than that charged by the law schools run by Temple and Pitt, both state-related universities like Penn State.

Future Dickinson tuition increases, however, could be moderated, according to Spanier.

Q. Will anyone lose his or her job as part of this merger?

A. No. Spanier said Dickinson faculty and staff should see little if any changes as a result of the merger. All current job arrangements will be honored.

Q. What changes should students expect?

A. Again, Spanier said there should be no noticeable difference once Penn State takes over. Although Penn State will assume overall responsibility for the law school, Dickinson Dean Peter Glenn will remain in charge and the school will retain a great deal of autonomy.

Q. How many students are there at Dickinson? Will that increase now that it is merging with Penn State?

A. There are 517 students enrolled in the law school's three-year program. Penn State officials said they do not intend to try to increase enrollment.

Q. How many law schools are there in the state?

A. Seven. Six are currently part of larger universities. They are at Duquesne, Temple, Penn, Pitt, Widener and Villanova. Widener operates two law schools, one in Susquehanna Twp., the other in Wilmington, Del.

Q. How does Dickinson School of Law compare with the other law schools in Pennsylvania.?

A. Dickinson graduates consistently do very well on the bar exam. In 1995, Dickinson posted the highest pass rate among the seven schools. It had the second-highest pass rate last year.

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