Saturday, June 12, 2004

Law school board considering dual-campus plan

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

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Law school board considering dual-campus plan

By Gwenn Miller

CARLISLE The board of governors of Penn State's Dickinson School of Law is considering a new scenario for the law school's future involving one school with campuses both at University Park and Carlisle.

The board was expected to vote today on whether the school will remain in Carlisle -- its home for 170 years -- or move to State College. On Friday, though, Penn State President Graham Spanier said he did not anticipate a vote because board members may want more time to consider the new proposal.

Under the plan, outlined Friday by Spanier and the board's chairman, LeRoy S. Zimmerman, the law school would continue to offer education in Carlisle with additional programs at Penn State's main campus.

"This is going to be in the forefront in legal education nationally," Spanier said.

Board members met Friday night behind closed doors and broke about 10:30 p.m. Gov. Ed Rendell and Penn State board of trustees Chairwoman Cynthia Baldwin were among those at the meeting.

Zimmerman issued a memo to the law school board Thursday in support of the two-campus plan. "I think it's a great proposal, and I have recommended it to the board of governors," he said.

The issue of whether to keep the law school in Carlisle, located about 20 miles west of Harrisburg, has been scrutinized and analyzed since November, when a confidential memo from law school Dean Philip McConnaughay to the board was leaked to the media.

That memo outlined options for the law school's future, including relocating the school to University Park.

"This is a very, very important decision for the board of governors to make, and we've had a lot of information on both sides of the issue," board member Anthony C. Falvello said, "and we need to give it extremely serious consideration before we vote."

The cost of renovating Dickinson's Trickett Hall in Carlisle is estimated at $25 million. Penn State has pledged $10 million, and Rendell has committed an additional $10 million in state funds. The remainder of the cost would be drawn from governmental and community organizations and charitable donations.

Under the new plan, the Carlisle campus would serve about 300 students. About 450 law students would be accommodated at University Park.

Spanier said that Penn State never wanted to completely abandon Carlisle.

"We never took the either-or position," he said.

The new plan, he said, would allow Dickinson students more flexibility than they're offered by the current situation because they would be able to spend semesters at either site.

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