The latest proposal for The Dickinson School of Law didn't sit well with local officials, who are concerned about the long-term impact a dual campus would have on Carlisle. State Sen. Hal Mowery, R-Cumberland, had hoped Dickinson's board of governors would keep the law school in Carlisle, rather than moving all or part of it to State College. Instead, the board is sitting on a proposal that would renovate the Carlisle site and build a campus in State College.
"There are just an awful lot of frustrations in going for a dual campus, as I see it," Mowery said.
He said he is concerned that the proposed $25 million in state funding to renovate Dickinson would be in jeopardy if the school opens a second campus.
"That money was for the law school to stay here, not a second campus," Mowery said. "That would put a kink in the whole thing."
Gov. Ed Rendell has since promised $10 million in state funding for Dickinson's Carlisle campus if a second school is created.
While state Rep. Will Gabig, R-Carlisle, said he is pleased the law school will not move from Carlisle, he said he is skeptical of what a second campus would mean in the long term.
"I don't think a double campus makes sense," he said. "Sooner or later it's going to come down to one or the other."
Carlisle Mayor Kirk Wilson said the last-minute proposal by Penn State President Graham Spanier didn't ease his mind at all.
"I don't feel any better about this than I did a few days ago," Wilson said. "Nothing has really changed."
A local task force of business and community leaders issued a statement saying it was "potentially supportive" of the dual campus concept, provided the two campuses are treated equally academically and financially.
Frank Rankin, Carlisle Borough Council president, said he is "perplexed" by the proposal and wants to hear more details about how it would work and the impact on the Carlisle campus.
"I'm pleased that Dickinson will stay in Carlisle," Rankin said. "But for how long and at what strength? Those are the big questions I'm sure will be on everybody's mind."
Wilson questioned the process. "Since the beginning, President Spanier and the law school dean had an agenda," he said.
Spanier has said the dual campus concept would allow students to take advantage of opportunities available to them at Penn State's main campus and answer any concerns of the Carlisle community.
Staff writer Elizabeth Gibson contributed to this report. JOE ELIAS: 249-2006 or firstname.lastname@example.org INFOBOX:
WHAT IT MEANS If The Dickinson School of Law board of governors votes this summer to open a campus in State College: *Dickinson's Trickett Hall in Carlisle would receive a renovation over the next several years worth $25 million or more, and programs for about 300 students would center on public law, with an emphasis on local, state and federal court internships. *Penn State would build a $60 million law school in State College by 2008 and the 450 students there could specialize their degrees by studying with university professors. *Students could attend either campus.
THE SCHOOL *Number of students: 650. * Graduates include five governors, three U.S. senators, Homeland Defense Secretary Tom Ridge and more than 100 state, federal and county judges. *Tuition is about $60,000 for the three-year program. *Founded in 1834, the oldest law school in Pennsylvania; fifth oldest in the nation. *Merged with Penn State in 2000.