CARLISLE News that the Dickinson School of Law plans to merge with Penn State University this summer left law school students sorting conflicting feelings about independence versus progress.
?It'll help the school down the road in some advancements and definitely enhance the school,?? third-year student Lori Winger of Hershey said yesterday as she left classes at Trickett Hall. ?Independence is the only thing Dickinson's really giving up by doing this.??
The proposal, already approved by the law school's trustees, is expected to be accepted by Penn State's trustees on Friday.
The union would make Dickinson, the nation's oldest independent law school, a component of Penn State with status similar to that of another university affiliate, Hershey Medical Center.
It would give Penn State its lone ?missing link,?? says university President Graham Spanier, and make Penn State the ninth Big Ten university to have a law school. Purdue and Michigan State are without.
?I think there's a little bit of a feeling they sold out,?? said Dave Zambito, a third-year Dickinson law student from York. ?I sort of like the tradition of independence.??
That tradition dates to the school's founding in 1834. Despite similar names, the law school is not affiliated with its neighbor, Dickinson College.
Ted Kim, also is in his last year at Dickinson, voiced concerns about autonomy. ?Some of us were concerned about losing some control,?? said Kim, of Washington, D.C.
Law school officials have pledged that the school, which will be called The Dickinson School of Law of the Pennsylvania State University, will experience few changes. Currently, there are 517 students in the law degree program and 530 students overall.
Enrollment won't increase and the school will stay in Carlisle, said Robert M. Frey, president of the board of trustees. The affiliation would begin in July with the merger completed by 2000.
Zambito said the decision didn't completely surprise him because ?there've been rumors floating around for years.??
First-year student Pedro Cortes expressed mixed feelings. ?You want to preserve the small school [but] for us, it's very prestigious,?? said Cortes of Harrisburg.
Still, he said he'll enjoy the recognition that affiliation with Penn State will bring. ?Sometimes you get that, ?Dickinson who?? ? Cortes said.
?That's one of the big things the school's going to benefit from,?? first-year student Josh Goldberger of Harrisburg said.
Law school officials held three meetings for students yesterday to answer questions about the proposed merger. Questions mainly concerned whether there will be changes to the grading system and admissions standards, said Deb Ryerson, school spokeswoman.
Freshman Megan Huff of Camden, S.C., said she doesn't think school leaders have all the answers yet: ?They keep saying, ?In the foreseeable future.' What's going to happen in the years to come???