Sunday’s Sentinel story, “PSU OKs law school,” may remind some of us about the community struggle to keep the law school in Carlisle, but the story remains an affirmation of the school’s future here.
It seems like only yesterday that The Sentinel was informing its readers of a planned attempt to move Dickinson School of Law to Penn State’s main campus through a quick-strike vote of the school’s board of trustees. From that early warning, the community came together in a campaign to keep the law school in its historic home.
That campaign finally resulted in the Solomonic, if not totally satisfactory, decision to recreate the law school as a dual-campus educational facility. Later, local residents were wary of plans that called for a showplace headquarters building of modern architecture to be plunked down in the leafy southwest quadrant that has been home to the law school for so long.
That controversy resulted in the plan described in Sunday’s edition — a refurbishment and preservation of the familiar Trickett Hall and a new building addition that will connect it with a 1985 addition. Other adjuncts built in 1963 and 1973 will be demolished, along with “the curtilage,” a group of smaller brick buildings along South College Street used for faculty offices.
As Penn State has promised all along, the reimagined Carlisle campus will be connected with the University Park facility through the latest in audiovisual telecommunications and data exchange, making it possible for students in one location to take advantage of lectures and resources being offered in the other location.
Groundbreaking is expected in a couple of months, with an estimated completion date in March 2010. The $50 million cost of the project is half state money and 10 percent Penn State money, with the rest raised in a campaign specifically targeted at the Carlisle campus.
The construction project may inflict some transitory inconvenience on the surrounding neighborhood for the next couple of years, but there is good reason to look forward to the campus’ rededication. Right now, the student body and faculty are using temporary quarters in the former Stoner Associates building along the Miracle Mile.
This means a fairly large group of people find themselves no longer convenient to the downtown, which means they’re less likely to patronize downtown businesses. Their eventual return could help drive the downtown revitalization efforts we covered in The Sentinel last week, if the timing is right.
So we wish Penn State and the law school the best of luck as they move forward, hopefully free of construction delays and cost overruns. What’s good for them could be good for the whole community.