Friday, February 25, 2005

Law school meeting may get a bit feisty

Copyright (c) 2005 Bell & Howell Information and Learning Company. All rights reserved.

Friday, February 25, 2005


Law school meeting may get a bit feisty

Of Our Carlisle Bureau

There's little chance tomorrow's meeting of The Dickinson School of Law's board of governors will be a rubber-stamp gathering. The board will vote on a final agreement with Penn State University to build a second law campus in State College and to hand board control over the school to the university.

A preliminary plan won board approval last month, but the vote was so close -- 17-14 -- that many expect a protracted battle as opponents fight to reverse the outcome.

Three board members failed in a court bid for a temporary injunction to halt the plan.

But the suit filed in Cumberland County Court by G. Thomas Miller, Leslie Anne Miller and Tom Monteverdi is still active.

They want the court to, among other things, force Penn State to show why a second campus is needed and to reveal how long it will operate the Carlisle campus.

Since the board's January vote, university trustees endorsed the plan and Penn State officials made revisions for a final agreement.

It's unknown whether all 33 law board members will attend. Only two were absent in January: former U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and New Jersey Nets owner Lewis Katz.

Ridge will attend tomorrow's meeting at 9:30 a.m. in Dickinson's Trickett Hall, said board chairman H. Laddie Montague Jr.

Ridge has advocated keeping Dickinson in Carlisle. He was triumphant when he emerged from a law board meeting last summer and announced that Penn State's original plan to completely move the law school to State College was off the table.

Penn State's preliminarily approved plan calls for the university to contribute $10 million toward a $50 million renovation of the Carlisle law campus and to build a $60 million law campus in State College.

Gov. Ed Rendell promised state money up to $25 million for Carlisle renovations if Penn State agrees to a long-term commitment to maintain it there.

Rendell is expected to specify the term length, but Montague said Rendell hasn't released the condition to Penn State.

That ambiguity alone is enough for board member Jason Kutulakis to again vote against the plan. "I don't know how anyone can vote for an agreement without ... knowing the terms," he said.

Kutulakis said he'll also repeat a demand to delay board actions until six people can be appointed to fill empty board seats.

He and other board members are still bristling over time limits placed on their comments during January's meeting and will demand a full airing of the issue tomorrow.

"Limiting time to speak when you are dismantling a 170-year-old entity is preposterous," Kutulakis said. ELIZABETH GIBSON: at 249- 2006 or INFOBOX: THE STORY SO FAR

* The Dickinson School of Law in Carlisle merged with Penn State University in 2000.

* In 2003, Penn State proposed moving the school to its main campus in State College, saying the closeness would enhance students' education and job prospects and improve the school's rankings.

* Penn State withdrew the proposal after objections from the community, lawmakers and the law school governors board, which doesn't run the law school but can veto any plan to move it. Penn State then offered to renovate the Carlisle law campus and open a second campus in State College.

* The law school board and PSU trustees last month approved preliminary plans for two campuses. The plan also calls for the governors board to dissolve.

* Three law board members have sued Penn State and others in Cumberland County Court to, among other things, force the university to reveal how long it will operate the Carlisle law campus.

No comments: