Thanks to Mark Hammond for passing this along
Dickinson dual-campus plan stays
The university has started a $10 million fundraising campaign to help renovate the Dickinson School of Law's Carlisle campus, a month after a Cumberland County judge ruled that the development of a dual-campus law school plan could continue.
The $10 million will be added to the $25 million given to Dickinson by the state in early May and $10 million already promised by the university to aid in renovating the Carlisle campus.
Penn State spokesman Bill Mahon said Carlisle's renovations and $60 million construction at University Park will follow the same timeline, beginning next summer and ending in fall 2008.
Mahon said a February lawsuit had not interfered with development plans for the University Park facility, which is tentatively planned for the corner of University Drive and Park Avenue.
The enrollment process will be the same for both campuses and specialized law programs could be placed at both campuses, he said, adding that further plans will be discussed during fall Penn State Board of Trustees meetings.
The lawsuit was filed by three members of the law school's Board of Governors who believed the plan violated a 1997 merger agreement that named Carlisle as the law school's primary location. Mahon said the Carlisle campus would remain open for at least another 15 years at Gov. Ed Rendell's request, but could operate "well beyond" the agreed date.
"We're not going to invest tens of millions of dollars in a plan that we think is going to fail," Mahon said.
G. Thomas Miller, one of the plaintiffs in the suit, said the main problem with the plan was that an independent party had never evaluated the situation.
"There was no independent oversight," he said. "There were only representatives of people who wanted it to happen."
Under the current agreement, the Board of Governors will be dissolved Aug. 1 in favor of a seven-member Board of Directors.
Miller said the change will leave no one to operate the Carlisle campus if it becomes independent "when Penn State decides to close it."
"We're primarily concerned about the longevity of the Carlisle campus," Miller said. "[The agreement] does not guarantee longevity."
Miller has asked a lower court for a new trial, and he hopes a decision will be made by the end of July.
"I doubt they'll grant a new trial," he said.
If his request for a new trial is denied, he said he will begin the appeal process.
"The university administration does not like the Carlisle campus," Miller said. "It will go away, but by inches rather than by yards or feet."
Mahon again called Miller's claims "ridiculous," and said the law school greatly benefits the Carlisle community.
"It would be silly of us to invest this much time and this much money into something that's going to fail," he said.
Mahon said he will not respond to every single claim made by Miller.
"It'll be one of the very best law schools in the country. We've got a great solid plan in place and it's going to be a success," Mahon said.
Law school professor Robert Ackerman said the lawsuit and the construction plans are not affecting the atmosphere of the office. He said a "program committee" has been formed to help plan the facilities, but he was not directly involved in that process.
"I'm just sitting here just waiting for the wreckers' ball to hit my building," he said.