Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Law school's mission, main campus untied

Copyright (c) 2004 Bell & Howell Information and Learning Company. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, July 6, 2004


Law school's mission, main campus untied

Those of us interested in the future of Dickinson School of Law should be pleased, although not surprised, about Penn State's recent change of heart. Its belated push to establish a dual campus, although wrongheaded and self-serving, is nevertheless a small step in the right direction by those who are convinced that a University Park campus is best for Dickinson's future. Several voices including mine, as long ago as November of last year, have been urging Penn State to consider a small satellite campus at University Park for the few students who wish to take joint degrees (a masters of business administration and a law degree, for instance).

Overlooked, however, has been the availability of PSU's Capitol College in Middletown. A broad range of graduate courses are offered there, but PSU has been quiet about joint degrees that Dickinson Law students could pursue without leaving Greater Harrisburg. Just one example is a joint degree in law and public administration.

The law school's educational mission for the great majority of its students has nothing to do and nothing common with PSU's main campus. The many obvious advantages achieved by the law school's location in Carlisle are the reasons that those of us who are struggling to keep the law school in Carlisle continue to shake our heads in disbelief and frustration at Penn State's stubborn resolve to relocate it. Federal, state and county judges work nearby, as do the legislative and executive branches of state government. Thousands of attorneys practice in central Pennsylvania; many of them regularly employ law students from Dickinson. State College, on the other hand, is not even a county seat, and Centre County has relatively few law firms.

There may be value in a small, focused satellite campus of Dickinson Law at University Park, but only for those students who truly need to be on the main campus because of their particular educational goals. The main campus and the administrative headquarters of Dickinson Law should remain in Carlisle, its traditional home.


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