Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Penn State to try dual law schools

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

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Pennsylvania State U.: Penn State to try dual law schools

U-WIRE-06/30/2004-Pennsylvania State U.: Penn State to try dual law schools (C) 2003 Daily Collegian Via U-WIRE By Jennette Hannah, Daily Collegian (Pennsylvania State U.)

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Students may have the opportunity to pursue a

law degree at University Park after university officials decided to study the possibility of creating a local law school facility while renovating Carlisle's Dickinson School of Law of the Pennsylvania State University.

Penn State's Dickinson School of Law Board of Governors voted unanimously June 12 to adopt a resolution to consider building a $60 million facility at University Park, while maintaining and renovating the facility at the school's current location in Carlisle for $25 million.

Penn State would pay for the University Park facility in its entirety, though Penn State spokesman Tysen Kendig said it is too soon to declare the specific origin of the prospective funds.

"Where specific dollars would be coming from is really premature at this point," he said.

Gov. Ed Rendell said he would donate $10 million to the Carlisle project, with an additional $5 million from governmental and philanthropic organizations and a $10 million pledge from the university, according to a Penn State press release.

About a week after the resolution was accepted, board chairman LeRoy Zimmerman appointed an eight-member panel consisting of Board of Governors' members to investigate the dual-campus proposal. The panel's findings will be presented to the rest of the board on Aug. 15 for final approval before the plan is presented to Penn State's Board of Trustees on Sept. 10.

According to a memo from Penn State President Graham Spanier to Zimmerman, the dual-campus proposal would enroll more students at University Park than at Carlisle for an overall increase in enrollment.

Carlisle's registration would include about 300 students, with about 100 in each incoming class. University Park's location would include about 450 students with about 150 new students each year.

Each proposed location would have an estimated faculty to student ratio of 15 to 1.

The plan would permit full-time students at University Park to study for a semester at Carlisle, and vice-versa. This would provide University Park students with internship opportunities in Harrisburg and would allow Carlisle students to earn a joint degree in a particular area of law, such as medicine.

The possibility of moving the campus in its entirety was leaked to the media in November and has since sparked a debate between Carlisle community members as well as board and university officials about the merits of moving the law school.

The dual-campus proposal was introduced to the board by Zimmerman for serious consideration the day before board members were expected to vote on the future of the law school's location.

"It was a Plan B that I think turns out to be the best plan," he said at a June 12 press conference announcing the plan.

Some board members said that although the last minute proposal was unexpected, it did not come as a shock.

"I wasn't expecting it, but I'm not surprised by it," board member H. Laddie Montague said. "I think the intent is that it will capture the advantages of both locations."

Carlisle Mayor Kirk Wilson said he was not pleased with the new proposal and did not favor moving the law school.

"In all honesty, I don't see a resolution," he said at the time of the decision. "It could've been put to rest today."

Wilson said the law school and local community have a reciprocal relationship, which could be negatively impacted should the law school's resources be split between two locations.

Chair of the Greater Carlisle Chamber of Commerce Russell Shunk said he would prefer to keep the law school within the community in its entirety, but further investigation regarding the nature of the proposal is needed.

"[Dickinson] is more than just bricks and mortar," he said.

Spanier said that because of the $60 million price tag for the prospective University Park location, other construction projects slated for the near future might be put on hold.

He added that the increase in University Park's student population would be made gradually over a five-year period, beginning in 2008 when the facility would open, and would not affect the enrollment cap of about 42,000 students currently in place.

Zimmerman said the dual-campus proposal might be beneficial to the success of legal education at Dickinson.

"It's important to look to yesterday's tradition and past, but you can't make the future irrelevant," he said. "You have to focus on the future, especially in legal education, and I think the dual-campus really provides the opportunity."

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