Friday, November 21, 2003

What Relocation? - November 21, 2003

Centre Daily Times
(c) Copyright 2003, Centre Daily Times. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, November 21, 2003

Dickinson board looks into relocation choices

By Gwenn Miller

The Dickinson School of Law's board of governors will take the first steps today and Saturday to determine whether the school will move to State College or explore other options. The board will meet to discuss the future of the school, which officials have said has inadequate facilities and no room to expand its current location.

News of Dickinson's possible move from Carlisle to State College surfaced last week after a confidential memorandum from law school Dean Philip McConnaughay was leaked to The Sentinel of Carlisle. The memo outlined suggestions to address the concerns about the school's facilities, one being the possibility of moving the school to Penn State's University Park campus.

A statement released Tuesday by Dickinson said newly elected board of governors Chairman LeRoy S. Zimmerman has sent a notice to board members urging them to attend the meeting concerning the law school's facilities need and location.

"Chairman Zimmerman recommended to the board that no vote be taken at the meeting," the statement reads.

The meeting will be closed to the media and the public. The Sentinel is seeking a court order to open the meeting. A hearing was scheduled for Friday morning on the request, according to Niles Benn, the newspaper's attorney.

If the newspaper's request cannot be granted immediately, it is alternatively seeking an injunction that would prevent the meeting from taking place until a ruling is made, Benn said.

According to the statement, the Pennsylvania Sunshine Act does not apply to meetings of the law school's board of governors. The release stated that the meeting will be closed in order to "facilitate uninhibited discussion amongst board members."

Penn State President Graham Spanier and Provost and Vice President Rodney Erickson will attend the meeting, according to a university press release. Spanier said in the release that Friday's meeting is intended to be the first step in the discussion about future of law school, which merged with Penn State in 2000.

"A different location for the law school was never contemplated when we merged," Spanier said.

Spanier said university officials have not had any discussions with any members of the board of governors since McConnaughay's memo was prepared. It would be premature to debate the issue of moving the school, Spanier said.

Any decision about the law school's future will be determined by the board of governors and then ratified by Penn State's board of trustees.

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