Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Our View Let sun shine on law school meetings

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

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Our View Let sun shine on law school meetings

The state House should follow the Senate's lead and pass the bill that would force The Penn State Dickinson School of Law's board of governors to meet in public. And Gov. Ed Rendell should sign it into law. Dickinson's board should have opened the meetings on its own, recognizing that its decision is of critical public interest.

A task force is studying the merits of having two campuses -- one in Carlisle and one in State College. The board is expected to vote on the proposal in September.

As we pointed out on June 20, whatever the board decides, a new or improved Dickinson School of Law will cost Pennsylvania taxpayers millions of dollars and will greatly impact the communities of Carlisle and State College.

All of us, including the state's elected leaders, should not have to find out what happens through leaked memos and closed-door meetings.

Court challenges have failed to require the Dickinson board to meet in public. To his credit, state Sen. Hal Mowery, R-Lemoyne, introduced and built support for Senate Bill 1039, which would amend the definition of the word "agency" in the state's Sunshine Act.

To their credit, Penn State and Sen. Jake Corman, R-Bellefonte, while not in favor of the bill, worked to amend its language so it is limited to Dickinson and is not unconstitutional.

As we reported Friday, the bill redefines "agency" to include the governing board of any nonprofit corporation that, by a mutually binding legal written agreement with a state-related institution of higher education, is granted supervisory or advisory powers over the school's degree programs.

Now, Mowery's bill has to become law.

Testimony from Dickinson board members, Penn State officials, legislators and key Dickinson alumni should be heard in public.

Rendell has pledged $10 million in state funding for improvements in Carlisle if at least a portion of the law school stays there.

Penn State has pledged $70 million -- $60 million to build a new law school on the University Park campus and another $10 million for improvements in Carlisle.

State representatives should not leave Harrisburg for their summer recess without approving this bill, and Rendell should sign it. It's the right thing to do.

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