MIDDLETOWN Saying the relationship between Penn State and the Dickinson School of Law is not functioning very well, university President Graham Spanier said Tuesday that it might be in the best interest of the two institutions to end their affiliation.
"That is a very difficult situation for the university right now," Spanier said during his remarks to the University Faculty Senate. "It is not a good situation."
The university issued a statement Sept. 17 saying the two institutions were looking into ending their affiliation and creating a partnership between the law school and neighboring Dickinson College, both of which are located in Carlisle.
Spanier said that although the outcome is still not certain, it might become clearer within a few weeks or months.
The law school's board of governors voted Aug. 13 to table a Penn State proposal to open a second law school campus at University Park, with a $60 million price tag, and renovate the Carlisle campus. Instead, the board of governors called for working with the university to improve the Carlisle campus at an estimated cost of $50 million.
That proposal came about after a plan to move the law school to University Park and keep a satellite campus in Carlisle met with strong opposition from the Carlisle community.
University officials had argued that moving the law school to University Park would improve Dickinson's rankings, help it attract top faculty and students, and address a lack of space in Carlisle.
In response to questions from faculty Tuesday, Spanier said the administration believes the proposal to disassociate from the law school would be in the best interests of the law school, its students, the community and Penn State.
Zachary Gates, the law school's student representative, said he was struck by the number of students who go to the Dickinson law school because of its affiliation with Penn State.
He asked Spanier what he should tell an employer interviewing him for a job when he has to spend half the interview explaining what his degree will mean.
Spanier said anyone who graduates with a Penn State diploma will always be a Penn State graduate.
Spanier also said the decisions were not all his to his make, and instead pointed to the law school's board of governors.
"I'm just trying to make some lemonade out of lemons here," Spanier said.
Tuesday's Faculty Senate meeting took place at Penn State Harrisburg. Faculty Senate Chairman Kim Steiner noted that it was the first time it was held at that location and believed to be only the third time the meeting took place outside of University Park.