Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Law school board appeals open meeting requirement

Centre Daily Times
(c) Copyright 2004, Centre Daily Times. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, February 4, 2004

Law school board appeals open meeting requirement

By Gwenn Miller

The Penn State Dickinson School of Law's board of governors filed a notice of appeal protesting a judge's decision to open the board's meetings to the public, board Chairman LeRoy Zimmerman said Tuesday. Cumberland County Common Pleas Judge Edward Guido ruled Monday that the board meetings are subject to the state's Sunshine Act. Two newspapers, The Sentinel of Carlisle and the Patriot-News of Harrisburg, sued the board to gain access to the board's meetings after law school Dean Philip McConnaughay issued a memo saying he wanted to move the law school from Carlisle to State College.

The board of governors was scheduled to meet Saturday, but Zimmerman said he postponed the meeting because the board could not comply with Sunshine Act requirements in time.

Zimmerman said he reviewed Guido's decision with the board's legal counsel and said the decision had significant ramifications for higher education institutions in Pennsylvania, the board of governors, and all nonprofit organizations across the state.

"It's not something that's narrow in its impact," Zimmerman said.

Committees within the board of governors are examining the issues facing Dickinson in terms of its need for new facilities. One committee recently visited University Park and was scheduled to report its findings to the board Saturday. No vote on any proposal was scheduled for Saturday, Zimmerman said.

In his view, Zimmerman said, the law school needs a new facility. Exactly where that facility will be located is still being discussed, he said. Forums are also being held in locations across Pennsylvania and surrounding states to gain opinions from alumni.

"Certainly all of us want to get all of the input the board feels is necessary from students, faculty, alumni and the community at large," Zimmerman said. "And we're in the process of doing that."

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