Following nearly five hours of impassioned debate, Dickinson School of Law's board of governors on Saturday voted narrowly to give Penn State University "unfettered" control of the law school no later than Aug. 1.
If approved, it will effectively dissolve the board of governors and the law school's 1997 merger with Penn State by Aug. 1.
Gov. Ed Rendell can block the agreement, however, by withholding state money earmarked for the Carlisle campus.
The agreement included Penn State's offer to wipe the new agreement off the boards if Rendell does not come through with $25 million in state funds for new construction at Trickett Hall in Carlisle.
J. Michael Eakin, an associate justice on the state Supreme Court and former district attorney of Cumberland County, made the motion to accept the new terms.
Carlisle lawyer Dale Shughart supported the new proposal, saying that "we decided in 1997 that we could not operate a law school when we gave it to Penn State."
Under the new agreement, Penn State commits to keeping the Carlisle campus open for 10 years from June 30.
Opponents, however, argued vehemently that Penn State can close the Carlisle campus and sell the facilities -- which it got for nothing through the merger -- and walk off with a handsome profit at the end of 10 years.
Board member Joan Maher argued that Penn State really wanted more than simply to open a new campus all along -- it wanted Dickinson's accreditation so it could open its own law school in State College.
"It is clear to me that Dickinson is doomed," she said.