Thursday, July 01, 2004

Penn State law school board members, deans weigh new proposals

(c) 2004 U-Wire. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, July 1, 2004

Pennsylvania State U.: Penn State law school board members, deans weigh new proposals

U-WIRE-07/01/2004-Pennsylvania State U.: Penn State law school board members, deans weigh new proposals (C) 2003 Daily Collegian Via U-WIRE By Jennette Hannah, Daily Collegian (Pennsylvania State U.)

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The recent Dickinson School of Law dual-campus

proposal has lead to discussion regarding the plan's possible benefits to law school students as well as the impact it might have on the Carlisle community.

Former law school dean Peter Glenn said the proposal's success depends on the level of commitment by faculty and staff at both locations, and that it is important not to relegate the status of the Carlisle facility to that of a branch campus.

Glenn said an advantage of allowing students to study at University Park stems from a need for those with joint degrees in science and law to have access to both curricula.

"There is a market in the legal practice for lawyers who have masters or doctorates in the sciences ... patent lawyers," he said.

Board of Governors member and Dickinson graduate Michelle Moore said she liked the idea of having a closer physical affiliation with Penn State, and added that having the school in two locations would afford students with many opportunities.

"Boosting [Dickinson's tier three ranking] was probably a moderate factor," she said.

Glenn said increasing Dickinson's overall enrollment by about 150 students might affect the number of Pennsylvania law graduates able to find jobs throughout the region.

Similar affiliations or law school moves have been made at other universities.

Michigan State University College of Law professor David Favre said since the freestanding Detroit College of Law became affiliated with Michigan State in 1995, there has been a considerable increase in the number of applications as well as the quality of applications, measured by LSAT scores.

In 1997, the DCL moved in its entirety to the Michigan State campus and in April 2004, changed its name to Michigan State University College of Law.

"Now we're a Big Ten law school, with feelers in many states," Favre said. "Nobody would have heard about the Detroit College of Law in China, but everyone knows about Michigan State."

He added that one key difference between the two concurrent law school situations is that Michigan State's law school is financially independent, and is affiliated in name only.

Favre said the law school's affiliation with Michigan State has allowed them to open separate law school clinics, which offer students various free legal advice, such as landlord-tenant counsel and courtroom experience for law students.

Currently, Michigan State's College of Law is ranked as a fourth tier law school , according to the 2005 U.S. News and World Report. Each year graduate and undergraduate schools are ranked and placed in tiers according to specific criteria. Top tier, or tier 1, universities include Yale University and the University of Pennsylvania.

H. Laddie Montague, a Dickinson Board of Governors member who will also be investigating components of the proposal, said it was premature to discuss the positive or negative aspects of the two-campus plan.

"I want to do what's best for the school -- to achieve what's best for

the school," Montague said. " I think the intent [of the proposal] is that it will capture the advantages of both locations."

Christine Hammond, executive director for planning and administrative affairs at Michigan's College of Law, said reaction since the affiliation has been mixed among students and alumni, some of whom are concerned that it has become a different institution.

"On the other hand, there are many folks who've said 'bravo,' and that now it's more vibrant than ever," she said. "Students were very supportive of the move to East Lansing, and want to be part of a larger population."

Current Dickinson Dean Philip McConnaughay said that in order to promote a "meaningful interaction" between the two campuses, there would be an increased emphasis on audio-visual communication. This would allow students in Carlisle to take courses offered at University Park through real-time teleconferencing, and vice versa.

"We want it to be easy for students and faculty to walk into a room and to communicate with the other campus," he said.

Glenn, who was dean from 1994 to 2002, said during his tenure, no serious discussion about moving the school in the near future existed. He added that talk of renovating the Carlisle facility was limited because of the possibility that those renovations in 10 to 15 years would be in vain if the facility needed to move in order to expand.

"We knew from 1999 or 2000, that the day was going to come that the question of spending a considerable sum of money to improve the facility at Carlisle would arise reasonably soon," Glenn said.

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