Penn State is mum on President Graham Spanier's visit yesterday to Dickinson College President Bill Durden. After they talked, though, Durden told community leaders at a business luncheon that there could be major gains in a merger between the college and The Dickinson School of Law, Penn State's law school.
"He had a tone of enthusiasm. If they were to merge ... his full expectation ... is to make sure that it would result in a top-tier law school," said Cumberland County Chief Clerk John Connolly. "He was interrupted two or three times by a solid round of applause. Everyone was switched on."
The Greater Carlisle Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon was held, in part to bestow a business advocacy award on state Sen. Hal Mowery, R-Camp Hill.
Mowery aide Alan Berlin said the senator is taking part in talks between Penn State and the college, supplying details on available state and local funding for a Dickinson/Dickinson partnership.
Penn State and Dickinson College last month opened talks on changing the law school affiliation.
The news came on the heels of a decision by the law school's board of governors to postpone a Penn State plan to open a second law campus in State College.
The board of governors doesn't run the law school but can veto plans to move the school or change its name. Under Penn State's terms for creating a second law campus, the board would have lost control over the school's location.
Penn State, which merged with the law school in 2000, had argued that a State College presence would allow law students to enhance their degrees with business and science classes.
The university and Dickinson College now say the college can offer some of those opportunities.
Dickinson College spokeswoman Christine Dugan said among the issues still to be settled are the cost of a new affiliation and a method for management of the law school.
It is unclear if a $25 million matching grant, which Gov. Ed Rendell pledged toward a renovation of the law school, would still be available under a new affiliation, Rendell's press secretary Kate Philips said yesterday.
LeRoy Zimmerman, chairman of the law school's board, said it isn't clear how the board will participate in negotiations between the college and Penn State.
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* The Dickinson School of Law's board of governors will meet at 1 p.m. Oct. 15 in the law school's facility on Allen Road in Carlisle.