Penn State University is to open a second campus of The Dickinson School of Law in State College by 2010. That decision came yesterday in a vote by the law school's board of governors after many of its members fought to reject the preliminary agreement.
They argued for hours that Penn State should be forced to maintain the Carlisle campus for much longer than the proposed 10 years. The university promised when it merged with Dickinson that the school would stay in Carlisle.
Board members against the plan said the board would be abolished by Aug. 1, ending Penn State's long-term legal obligation to Carlisle. Their warnings failed.
In a 17-14 vote, the governors approved the proposal. Penn State is to renovate the 638-student Carlisle campus for about $40 million and open an estimated $60 million law campus in State College as early as 2008. The campuses are to operate as one school.
Penn State President Graham Spanier yesterday said Dickinson will be among the country's largest law schools.
"I'm absolutely delighted that we have finally reached this point. I think it will prove to be one of the major developments in legal education," he said.
State and local lawmakers took steps to push Penn State into keeping Dickinson in Carlisle.
"It's discouraging. I think the board was bulldozed, intimidated. There hasn't even been a demonstration ... that Pennsylvania needs a new law school," state Rep. Will Gabig, R-Carlisle, said.
The proposal will go before the university trustees Friday. A final agreement would then be endorsed by the trustees and the governors board.
Penn State could offer law classes at State College as early as 2006 in the Smeal College of Business when that program moves to its new Park Avenue building. Law professors and staff for the PSU campus could be appointed this year.
Future in debate since 2003
The schools merged in 2000. Penn State said Dickinson was its only missing academic link. Dickinson said Penn State could supply technology and other resources law students wanted. All classes are taught in Trickett Hall on South College Street in Carlisle. The building is crowded, lacks adequate library space and doesn't meet standards for disabled access.
The law school is the oldest in Pennsylvania and the fifth- oldest in the nation.
Its future has been debated since 2003, when Penn State proposed moving it to State College. The offer was withdrawn after objections from the governors board, the community and lawmakers.
Penn State and the board had disagreed about a two-campus proposal. Last fall, when it appeared they couldn't overcome differences, Penn State talked of handing off the law school to Dickinson College. The two Dickinsons are adjacent but unaffiliated.
A possible deal breaker for the current plan is the proposed financing for Carlisle upgrades.
Penn State said it will spend $10 million on the Carlisle renovation and hopes to raise up to $15 million in a capital campaign. It will maintain the campus at least 10 years, but possibly much longer.
State money may require Penn State to define just how long.
Gov. Ed Rendell last year promised up to $25 million for law school renovations if the school stayed in Carlisle. In a Friday letter to Spanier, Rendell said the money is still available if Penn State can "guarantee a long term commitment to the continued operation of the law school in Carlisle."
Penn State said it won't accept the money and will void the two- campus plan if Rendell's stipulations for a long-term commitment are unreasonable. Rendell hasn't specified those terms.
Governors board member Art Piccone asked the board to kill Penn State's proposal based on the lack of those and other terms. "Put the damn facts on the table. Quit hiding, quit playing games, so we know what we have," he said.
Member Leslie Anne Miller said Penn State has introduced "one scheme after another" to get the law school out of Carlisle "and up the road to Happy Valley" and isn't committed to Carlisle.
"Why aren't long-needed [Carlisle] renovations under way if Penn State is so committed?" she asked.
About one-third of the 33-member board voted by phone during yesterday's meeting in Trickett Hall. U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge was absent. Member Lewis Katz attended part of the meeting by phone but was absent for the vote.
LeRoy Zimmerman, a former state attorney general, voted for the Penn State plan. Earlier, he said the board should never give up its right to keep Dickinson in Carlisle. Yesterday, he said Penn State's proposal convinced him Dickinson will have a permanent Carlisle presence.
He also said Penn State has to give a year's notice if it plans to close the Carlisle campus after 2015. In that case, outcry from alumni, the community and legislators would surely halt the process, he said.
Board member and state Supreme Court Justice J. Michael Eakin said he backed the plan because students can maximize learning by studying in Carlisle and at the main campus.
Board Chairman H. Laddie Montague Jr. said Penn State put in the 10-year clause to guarantee the Carlisle campus would not be closed as Dickinson went through growing pains with two campuses. He said it wasn't a sign Penn State intends to close the school after 2015.
Spanier agreed and said no limit has been placed on Dickinson's existence in Carlisle.
"It's not productive to identify a particular [limit] because that's not how decisions are made in higher education ... but we would not be making this kind of investment ... if it was our intent to get out of town quickly. That's not going to happen," Spanier said.
Law school Dean Philip McConnaughay said the two campuses will be complementary, not competitive. The school's success will depend on each campus thriving.
Luci Jankowski McClure, president of the Dickinson general alumni association, said she's disappointed the board failed to get better guarantees for a permanent Carlisle campus. But she urged alumni to set aside differences over Penn State's plan and continue to support the school. ELIZABETH GIBSON: 249-2006 or egibson@patriot- news.com INFOBOX:
THE STORY SO FAR *The Dickinson School of Law in Carlisle merged with Penn State University in 2000. *The law school's future has been debated since 2003, when Penn State proposed moving it to its main campus in State College. *Law school Dean Philip McConnaughay contends closer interaction with the university would enhance students' law education and job prospects and improve the school's rankings. *Penn State withdrew the offer after objections from the governors board, lawmakers and the community. *The law school board and PSU officials previously discussed a proposal for two campuses. *Penn State trustees must vote on the two-campus plan approved yesterday. They are to meet Friday. Both boards would later vote on final agreement.
THE SCHOOLS PENN STATE UNIVERSITY *Campus: University Park in State College *Founded: 1855 *Students: 41,282 undergraduate and 6,465 graduate students *Faculty: 2,976 *Undergraduate tuition and fees: $10,856 for in state students; $20,336 for out state students. THE DICKINSON SCHOOL OF LAW *Campus: Centered around one main building, Trickett Hall, in Carlisle. *Founded: 1834. It's the oldest law school in Pennsylvania and fifth-oldest in the nation. *Merged with Penn State University in 2000. *Students: 638 *Faculty: 42 *Tuition: $25,650
HOW THEY VOTED Members of The Dickinson School of Law board of governors and their votes on the two-campus preliminary agreement:
VOTING YES *H. Laddie Montague Jr., board chairman *Zygmunt R. Bialkowski Jr., attorney, Scranton *Ward A. Bower, attorney, Newton Square *William R. Caroselli, attorney, Pittsburgh *J. Michael Eakin, state supreme court judge, Harrisburg *Jan R. Jurden, Delaware Superior Court judge, Wilmington, Del. *Edwin L. Klett, attorney, Pittsburgh *Sidney D. Kline Jr., attorney, Reading *Michelle Moore, attorney, Atlanta *Christylee Peck, attorney, Harrisburg *Dale F. Shugart Jr., attorney, Carlisle *Donald C. Smaltz, attorney, Torrence, Calif. *J. Rodman Stee le Jr., attorney, West Palm Beach, Fla. *Tracy L. Steele, attorney, Philadelphia *Donald C. Taylor, attorney, Wilmington, Del. *Nathan H. Waters Jr., attorney, Harrisburg *LeRoy S. Zimmerman, attorney, Harrisburg VOTING NO *Helen S. Balick, retired judge, Wilmington, Del. *Anthony C. Falvello, attorney, Sugarloaf *Kathleen P. Galop, attorney, Madison, N.J. *Hubert X. Gilroy, attorney, Carlisle *M. Fletcher Gornall, retired attorney, Erie *Jason P. Kutulakis, attorney, Carlisle *Joan Dawley Maher, retired attorney, Carlisle *G. Thomas Miller Partner, attorney, Harrisburg *Leslie Anne Miller, state office of general counsel, Harrisburg *Joseph Nadel, attorney, San Francisco, Calif. *Arthur L. Piccone, attorney, Wilkes-Barre *Sylvia H. Rambo, U.S. District judge, Harrisburg *Michael T. Traxler, attorney, Carlisle *Sandor Yelen, attorney, Wilkes- Barre ABSENT *Lewis Katz, attorney, Cherry Hill, N.J. *Tom
Ridge, Homeland Security secretary, Washington, D.C.