Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Penn State's Dickinson School of Law will remain as one campus

(c) 2004 U-Wire. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Pennsylvania State U.: Penn State's Dickinson School of Law will remain as one campus

U-WIRE-08/31/2004-Pennsylvania State U.: Penn State's Dickinson School of Law will remain as one campus (C) 2003 Daily Collegian Via U-WIRE By Ed Rowe, Daily Collegian (Pennsylvania State U.)

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- University Park will remain without a law school facility, now that the university's Dickinson School of Law has voted to stay at its sole campus in Carlisle.

Dickinson's Board of Governors rejected a university proposal on Aug. 13 to give the law school a second campus at University Park.

The rejected proposal included a university-funded $60 million law school facility at University Park.  It also included $10 million to renovate the Carlisle campus.

In the week leading up to the Aug. 13 Board of Governors meeting, the Dickinson committee, charged with investigating Penn State's dual-campus proposal, had asked for more time to analyze the deal.

The board adopted a resolution by member Lewis Katz to delay the decision for a second campus.

"We're not prepared at this point to do a second campus," he said, speaking to the board by telephone from Athens, Greece.

"Let's build our one law school now in Carlisle."

Katz said his proposal did "not give up any right whatsoever about ... what we feel down the line."

But university officials told the board that voting to delay the decision took the current offer off the table.

Because Dickinson did not meet the Aug. 15 deadline to accept the proposal, Executive Vice President and Provost Rodney Erickson said the university saw the board's decision as a rejection.

"At this point, we have no alternative than to accept this as turning down that proposal," he said after the meeting.

Jason Kutulakis was a Dickinson governor who voted in favor of Katz's resolution to delay a final decision.

He said he thought the board turned down Penn State's offer because of the issue of "perpetuity."

A clause in the university's proposal would have allowed Penn State, after a period of 10 years, to close down the Carlisle campus if it determined the two-campus system was not working.

"Our board is not willing to give up that authority," Kutulakis said.

"I was prepared to make a similar proposal."

Others had also expressed fear over the possibility that the Carlisle campus could eventually be shut down.

Don Grell, a Carlisle Borough Council member, said he had doubts about what he called "a very short time frame" of a guaranteed Carlisle campus.

"There was concern here that was a staged withdrawal," Grell said.

"They didn't seem to want to commit longer than ten years," he added.

Erickson said there was no underlying plan to eliminate the Carlisle campus.

But Dickinson board member Joan Maher expressed skepticism over Penn State's intentions because the university originally proposed the law school be moved entirely to University Park.

She also found fault with the proposed two campuses after there was an uproar of dissent over the initial proposal.

"They got through the back door what they couldn't get through the front door," she said in reference to the 10-year clause.

Erickson said the university viewed the rejection as a disappointment.

"We put a lot of time and energy into the dual-campus plan," he said.

Penn State attorney Wendell Courtney told the board the university would still support its law school regardless of the board's decision.

"The Board of Governors had the power to say no, and they said no," he said after the meeting.

"Now we try to do what's best for the law school," he said.

Penn State spokesman Bill Mahon said the dual-campus plan would have allowed law students to pursue multiple academic majors and to specialize their degrees.

Under the proposal, students could have done an exchange program with the other campus to gain the benefits each provided geographically.

"You'll find that most of the higher-ranked law schools tend to be ones that are located in close proximity to a large university campus." he said. "It provides a lot more options."

He said there are no more negotiations for a dual-campus law school scheduled, but the university still plans to give $10 million toward renovations at the Carlisle campus.

"It's our law school," Mahon said. "We want it to be as successful as possible within whatever parameters we need to work in."

Mahon said Penn State's Board of Trustees would ultimately decide on the funding to renovate the Carlisle campus. Penn State's Board of Trustees will next meet on Sept. 16 at University Park.

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