Sunday, January 16, 2005

In Carlisle, some worry

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Sunday, January 16, 2005

In Carlisle, some worry

Of The Patriot-News

Landlord Russell Miller fears a second law school campus in State College could mean the eventual demise of the 170-year-old Carlisle campus, and that could hit him in the wallet. "I don't know what's going to happen," Miller, 47, of Carlisle, said yesterday. He rents apartments in the borough to college and law school students. "I know what people are worried about. But nobody knows for sure."

Penn State President Graham Spanier said the 638-student Dickinson School of Law could be there for decades, but only a 10- year stay was promised in a preliminary agreement approved yesterday.

Miller said that each summer, his phone rings with incoming law school students searching for a place to live. No more law school would mean no one seeking to rent his eight apartments and potentially earning less with other renters.

Miller said he prefers to rent to law students because they are willing to pay more than others and generally cause less trouble than Dickinson College students.

William Bellinger, a Dickinson College economics professor, estimated last year that moving the law school from Carlisle would eliminate 227 jobs, about 150 of them in Carlisle. He estimated the law school's net 2002-03 spending in the county at $20 million and in the Carlisle area at $10.6 million.

For now, Miller said he isn't going to worry about life without the law school.

"Nothing is guaranteed. We're going to have to wait and see," Miller said. "I guess that's life. But I hope the law school stays here in town."

Emil Standfield, 33, a second-year Dickinson Law student from Chicago, said he was pleased with the board of governors' decision to continue its affiliation with Penn State and open a second campus.

"I think it will make us more competitive with other law schools," said Standfield, who sat through the board's 41/2-hour meeting yesterday morning.

Penn State officials have said adding a campus in State College would help integrate the law school with other programs and curriculum that Penn State offers, such as business, environmental sciences, economics and technology.

Students wishing to use the county, state and federal court system in the Carlisle and Harrisburg area, as well as the government and law firm internship opportunities could choose the Carlisle campus.

Standfield said he agrees with that argument and, given the choice between two campuses, would again choose Carlisle. "It's a great environment to study in," he said.

Like Miller, Victor Stabile, president of The Dickinson School of Law alumni association, said he hopes for the best, but is preparing for the worst after the board's vote.

Stabile said he was going to take a picture of the law school after yesterday's meeting, saying the photo could last longer than Penn State's commitment to keep the school in Carlisle.
"I'm disappointed the decision was made," Stabile said. "Hopefully, the school will survive in Carlisle."

Carlisle Borough Council President Frank Rankin said he was also disappointed in the vote. His request to address the board of governors before the vote was denied.

"The vote was close and contentious, but I wish it would have went the other way," Rankin said. "We'll have to move forward from here and see what happens."

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