Funding still sought for Carlisle law school makeover
By Linda Franz, Sentinel Reporter, September 16, 2006
While final plans for construction of a law school building at Penn StateÍs main campus were approved Friday, plans to upgrade Penn State Dickinson School of LawÍs Carlisle campus are still on hold.
First, fundraising lagged after a March 2005 decision to establish two campuses. With a commitment of up to $25 million in matching funds from the state for the Carlisle campus and a $10 million pledge from Penn State, that left $15 million to be raised by supporters of the Carlisle campus.
Fundraising continued from its original deadline of September 2005 because the goal had not been met. Then, with a limited local effort under way to save the law schoolÍs Trickett Hall, Penn State in May withdrew its proposal to construct a new building and agreed to renovate Trickett Hall at a cost of up to $30 million.
Pledges declined substantially when we announced that we would be preserving Trickett Hall rather than replacing it with new construction, law school Dean Philip McConnaughay says.
"Since that time, we have been engaged in conversations with major donors to discuss whether there still might be an option to which they would like to contribute that would include the preservation of Trickett Hall.
"These discussions are ongoing and we hope to conclude them within the next several days."
But whatever the result of the final tally, McConnaughay says hes confident in a good outcome for the law school in Carlisle.
"The difference will be reflected only in the amount of renovation in comparison to new construction," he says. "Either option will result in a highly suitable facility for the Dickinson School of Law."
Spanier mentioned the law school in his annual 'State of the University' address Friday to the Penn State Board of Trustees. He attributed the creation of a second campus to changes in the field of legal education that made it necessary for Penn State to rethink the way it operates its law school.
"The result is an unprecedented commitment to legal education that will result in a new law school building here at the University Park campus and a major renovation at the original site of The Dickinson School of Law in Carlisle," Spanier said.
"The dual-campus approach will give our students greater exposure to interdisciplinary studies between the law school and other colleges. It will also open new opportunities for legal research and collaboration among our faculty."
Spanier added that the changes already have produced the strongest and most diverse applicant pool ever.
Dale Shughart, who was appointed to the seven-member Dickinson Law Association set up to monitor Penn StateÍs compliance with March 2005 dual campus agreement, says he doesnÍt know how the final plans will shape up for the Carlisle project.
"IÍm just assuming they're still working on it and perhaps lining up what theyÍre going to have available in terms of money," he says. "I would anticipate something fairly soon.î
Shortly after Penn State announced in May it would renovate Trickett Hall rather than tear it down and construct a new building on the Carlisle campus, Shughart expressed disappointment in a guest editorial in The Sentinel. He felt a new $50 million building would ensure the law schoolÍs future in Carlisle.
"I am convinced that Penn State could not walk away from a modern, state-of-the-art facility in Carlisle," he wrote. "On the other hand, a renovated Trickett could be amortized over the term of the ten-year contract and become expendable to Penn State."