Friday, November 19, 2004

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Friday, November 19, 2004

Forum addresses law school's future

Of Our Carlisle Bureau

Dave Blackledge is worried that indecision over the future of The Dickinson School of Law is hurting the school's reputation. The retired law school admissions and financial aid director said the school's board of governors and its parent institution, Penn State University, must weigh what's best for students, faculty, staff and community members.

And they must do it soon.

Last night, he and several dozen community members spent the evening writing guidelines they hope school officials will consider as the conversation on the school's future progresses.

They'll send Penn State and the governors a report.

Until now, Blackledge and other residents have been strictly onlookers in the battle over whether Penn State will maintain or dump its four-year relationship with Dickinson.

Although the town has hosted Dickinson for 170 years, and local officials identified grants that could help pay for an improved law facility in Carlisle, residents have been able to do little more than wait.

News has wavered between dramatic pronouncements and months of inaction.

After proposing Dickinson move to State College, then suggesting it operate both in Carlisle and State College, Penn State said it would like to end its law school partnership.

Dickinson College, which is adjacent to but not affiliated with the law school, has said it may be interested in a partnership if Penn State and the law school separate.

A local task force fighting to keep the law school in Carlisle planned last night's forum in the downtown Comfort Suites.

The hope was that officials from Penn State, the governors board and the college would attend and answer community questions.

Early this month, spokesmen for all three groups said none would take part.

Kurt Kraus, a Shippensburg University professor who guided forum attendees in identifying and consolidating their concerns, said there isn't a guarantee that community sentiments will be considered.

"We have no idea if they will adhere to what we have asked them to adhere to, [but] this is our best shot," he said.

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