Monday, June 14, 2004

Resource drain feared in law-school splitting plan

Copyright (c) 2004 Bell & Howell Information and Learning Company. All rights reserved.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Resource drain feared in law-school splitting plan

Of The Patriot-News

As a Penn State graduate, Robert Michaels considers State College a good party town "with a student atmosphere and lots of nightlife." As a Dickinson School of Law third-year student, Michaels doesn't want to see half of his law school moving to Penn State's main campus.

"There's a fear among students that splitting the law school will drain resources in Carlisle in favor of State College," he said yesterday.

The law school's Board of Governors voted over the weekend to consider building a second, $60-million law campus in State College by 2008, while also upgrading The Dickinson School of Law here for about $25 million.

The board will vote on the proposal by Aug. 15.

Earlier, the board had considered moving the law school to State College. Penn State President Graham Spanier had said a move to State College would enhance the law school's academic reputation, and it would be easier to build a modern facility.

The proposal to move the law school to State College is now off the table, board members said.

The new proposal emerged over the weekend, just as the board was expected to vote on whether the law school would move. The law school -- which is not affiliated with Dickinson College -- merged with Penn State in 2000.

A dozen people interviewed in Carlisle yesterday agreed that the school should stay in Carlisle and not be split between the borough and State College.

"I'm concerned that if the school is split, the Penn State main campus would draw energy and resources from the law school here," said Pamela Lubold of Harrisburg, who works at the Governor's Office of General Counsel. ?Over time, under a unified system, Carlisle could be the red-headed stepchild syndrome.??

At the Weis Markets store, David Bowermaster of Carlisle said the law school has "a good presence" in the borough and should stay so that students are close to the state Capitol.

"State College is in the middle of the mountains," said Ken Evans of Carlisle, another shopper. "Don't split up the law school."

?There are more opportunities for internships here with the courthouse and with Harrisburg,?? said Linda Moll of Carlisle. ?Splitting the law school won't save money. I can't imagine anyone who wants to be an attorney going to State College.??

Bob Horner of Hampden Twp. was photographing CowParade cows with his family.

"There's something to be said about smaller campuses," he noted. "The law school fits into this town and is close to Harrisburg, where the students can get law experiences."

It makes sense to have "one law school in one place, Carlisle," said Amy Johnson of Enola.

Ken Punt of Carlisle expressed concern that Penn State officials "down the road" would close the law school here.

Sister Mary Cronin of Annville and Sister Jo Ann Siesko of Steelton, who were in the borough looking at the cow sculptures, discussed the plan.

"Maybe this could be the main law school campus and State College would be a satellite campus," Cronin said. Siesko discussed advantages of keeping the law school, "close to Harrisburg and the state Supreme Court."

Jennifer Sultzaberger of New Cumberland, who just completed her second year at The Dickinson School of Law, called the school "a great asset" to Carlisle.

Michaels, the third-year student, said if law students take their first year in State College, then have the choice between staying there or coming to Carlisle, many might stay in State College.

"But Carlisle is the county seat, is near Harrisburg and closer to Washington," he said. "It has more professional opportunities. State College isn't even a county seat."

He also said the law school fits into Carlisle. "People here are bending over backward to keep the law school here. We're wanted and welcome. State College hasn't made any overtures to get us there."


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 costing $25 million or more. 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.

* Students could attend either campus.

PHOTO; MICHAEL FERNANDEZ; Caption: Sentiments about the possibility of The Dickinson School of Law having two campuses appear on notes left at the rear entrance to the school's Trickett Hall.

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