Sunday, August 22, 2004

Trustees to mull law school's future

Centre Daily Times
(c) Copyright 2004, Centre Daily Times. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Trustees to mull law school's future

By Anne Danahy

A report on where things stand with Penn State's Dickinson School of Law will be given to the university's board of trustees at its Sept. 9 meeting, according to university administration. The law school board of governors voted 22-12 on Aug. 13 to table a proposal to open a second campus at University Park and instead focus on renovating the Carlisle location at an estimated cost of $50 million.

Penn State President Graham Spanier said in a news release that the decision to not move forward with two campuses was "disappointing" but that the university will "do our best to move ahead constructively from here."

Any renovation project at the Carlisle campus would have to be approved by the Penn State trustees.

Rodney Erickson, Penn State's executive vice president and provost, said in an e-mail that the $10 million the university has pledged for the Carlisle campus is included in the five-year capital budget. That budget will be reviewed during the September meeting, but any project would need approval from the trustees.

"The trustees will thoroughly review and evaluate proposed law school renovation plans in the same manner they handle the authorization for all other capital projects," Erickson said.

Along with that $10 million, the law school board of governors is hoping $15 million can be raised and $25 million the state has committed in matching money will come through.

The resolution approved by the board of governors called for working with Penn State and the board of trustees on Carlisle campus upgrades with a targeted completion date of August 2008. LeRoy Zimmerman, chairman of the board of governors, said the board is waiting to see what the trustees' plans are.

"We're letting the dust settle so that we can see a clear horizon for the future of the Dickinson law school, Penn State," Zimmerman said.

Under the two-campus proposal that was tabled, Penn State would have built a $60 million facility at University Park and spent $10 million on the Carlisle campus, along with other efforts to recruit faculty and improve the school.

The proposal included language that would have allowed the university board of trustees to close either campus after 10 years if it did not seem viable. Or, if the university wanted to close the Carlisle campus and agreement could not be reached with the board of governors, the proposal would have allowed the university to hand that campus back to the law school and end its affiliation with Penn State.

That proposal followed an earlier one to make University Park the law school's primary location.

University officials have said a University Park campus would help the school attract faculty, boost the school's stature and deal with a lack of building space in Carlisle.

The Carlisle community, however, fiercely opposed the idea of losing the law school that was established there 170 years ago.

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