The decision to merge with The Dickinson School of Law is a very important development for Penn State, and certainly an easy one for Penn State to make. At no cost to taxpayers and with no impact on our tuition for other students at Penn State, we have accomplished something we have long needed.
A law school was an important missing link in Penn State's academic repertoire. Its absence prevented natural opportunities for academic collaboration for our faculty in fields as diverse as business administration, public administration, communications, political science, and labor relations.
As the relationship with The Dickinson School of Law takes shape in the coming months, it will bring new and valuable benefits to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and its people.
Dickinson, particularly with its community law clinics, has a tradition of outreach and service that fits perfectly with the land grant service mission of Penn State.
There is no other college or university in Pennsylvania like Penn State. We are the only institution with offices located in each of 67 counties. We are the only institution with a central mission of outreach and service to the state. Our faculty and students, through their research, are inventing a better tomorrow. They perform more service to communities and companies than any other college or university in the state. As important as our role is to educate 77,000 students, our mission to help business and industry create jobs through our research and technology transfer activities remains fundamental.
Quality is an important part of a Penn State degree, and traditionally Dickinson has ranked at or near the top among law schools in the state in the percentage of its graduates who pass the bar exam. Penn State has been the largest supplier of students to Dickinson and we expect that special distinction to continue.
Penn State, now with 24 campuses, is uniquely qualified to work with the faculty, staff and students of Dickinson. The law school joins an institution that is not geographically bound, but rather provides many of its important services in diverse communities throughout the state.
Tradition is important. Penn State will remain particularly sensitive to the pledge of being a good neighbor to the people of Carlisle and a good steward of the Dickinson reputation that thousands of people have spent so many years establishing.
We will continue the commitment of making a law education available to students of modest means.
I am particularly pleased that this merger provides Penn State yet another opportunity to serve state government and the people of the greater Harrisburg area.
The Dickinson School of Law of the Pennsylvania State University will strengthen many academic programs of the university at the undergraduate, graduate and professional level. I have received numerous messages from Penn State students who want to know how they can enroll in our new law school and from Penn State faculty who want to develop cooperative programs with the law school.
The merger is an old idea, discussed off and on for years. But this month it became an exciting reality.
Graham Spanier is president of The Pennsylvania State University.