Friday, April 16, 2010

Dickinson School of Law dedicates renovated building
April 16, 2010 12:00 am

For Lewis Katz, Carlisle was his coming of age as a student of the Dickinson School of Law Class of 1966.
The veteran attorney returned Friday to where he started his law career, just across the street at historic Trickett Hall.
“As I think about this community, the wonderful memory is of a small town that gave you a feeling of caring,” Katz told an audience of more than 500 who celebrated the dedication of the newly renovated and expanded Carlisle campus.
Katz was a student when everyone had to attend classes on Saturday. Looking back, he thought it was a great idea because it kept the students in Carlisle over the weekend and their thoughts focused on study.
“I’ve been blessed in a material way,” Katz said during his speech under the tent. “The source of that fortune came from preparation. That preparation came from a group of country lawyers who devoted their time and energy to teaching young men.”
Minutes later, Katz was standing in line with a pair of scissors cutting the ribbon to the building named in his honor in recognition of his $15 million gift to Penn State University Dickinson School of Law. The Lewis Katz Hall was completed in December and hosted its first classes in January.
‘Look to the future’
The ceremony Friday marked the end of a year-long celebration honoring the 175th anniversary of Dickinson School of Law, which held its first class on April 1, 1834. The oldest law school in Pennsylvania, Dickinson operates buildings in both Carlisle and State College making it the only unified, two-location law school approved by the American Bar Association.
Penn State spent more than $130 million over the last several years to build the Lewis Katz building at University Park along with the improved facilities in Carlisle. Richard Olcott was the lead architect on the dual campus building project as a design partner with Polshek Partnership Architects.
Olcott called the experience “a wild ride” between the two extremes of totally demolishing the Trickett Hall campus to remodeling all its old buildings. A compromise was reached where some buildings were taken down to make room for the Lewis Katz Hall and its 250-seat auditorium/courtroom, three classrooms, several seminar rooms, a student commons area and study space.
From the start, the challenge was how to develop a law school with a “unified identity in a binary reality,” Olcott said. What came out of the planning was a renovated Trickett Hall housing a law library named for H. Laddie Montague Jr., a Philadelphia trial attorney who donated $4 million toward the project.
For Olcott, it made sense to house the library in the old building to recognize the historic legacy Trickett Hall represents. As for Lewis Katz Hall, it became a venue for advanced video-conferencing technology allowing for real-time interaction between faculty and students at both campuses and around the world.
“We can look to the future without erasing the past,” Olcott said.
‘It wasn’t easy’
Gov. Ed Rendell explained how the dual campus concept came out of tough talks between Penn State and advocates for keeping a law school presence in town. The state helped by providing a $25 million grant that was used in the Trickett Hall renovation project.
“It wasn’t easy,” Rendell recalled. “There were many twists and turns, but we kept it in Carlisle. We got it right for the benefit of future law school students who will do so much good for so many causes.”
Steve Garban is chairman of the Penn State Board of Trustees. He called the ceremony Friday a great day for the University and the law school.
“Trickett Hall is looking fantastic,” Garban said. “The law school is the new model for legal education. It combines the stateliness of Trickett Hall with the emerging of new technology. The value of this building will be seen through the generations of students.”
First-year students Allison Gerhart and Rebekah Saidman-Krauss chose Carlisle over State College because Carlisle offered a small town feel without the distractions of a large university town.
“I’m glad they’ve elected to keep the Carlisle campus,” said Gerhart, adding she feels privileged to be a part of law school history. Saidman-Krauss thought Penn State has done a good job balancing the fine points of its Carlisle location with those of University Park.
Growth trend
The future of a continued law school presence in Carlisle ultimately will be decided by the administration, Saidman-Krauss said. She added that as long as there are students like herself and Gerhart, Penn State will also have the demographic who prefers the Carlisle campus.
Attorney Brian Addison of York is a 1979 graduate of Dickinson School of Law. He thought the idea of a two-location law school was a good idea because it combined the resources of University Park with all the traditional benefits of having the Carlisle campus in a county seat near the state capital.
Before the dual campus concept, Dickinson School of Law was only able to draw 1,600 student applications each year, Dean Philip McConnaughay said. Applications for the 2011 academic year have exceeded 5,300 and the current student body is the most diverse in the school’s history.
McConnaughay added, in recent years, the law school has been able to recruit some of the world’s leading legal scholars and pioneers in the field. It has also introduced new programs including one where students spend an entire semester in Harrisburg and Washington, D.C., immersed in the workings of state and federal government.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Law school names new board members, including one of my classmates

February 03, 2010 12:00 am  •  

Penn State University Dickinson School of Law appointed U.S. District Court Judge John E. Jones III and James L. Patton Jr., chairman of Delaware law firm Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor, to its board of counselors on Jan. 23.
A 1980 graduate of The Dickinson School of Law, Jones was appointed to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania in 2002 by then President George W. Bush, a news release from the Carlisle-based law school says.
A native of Pottsville, Jones began his legal career as a clerk to Guy Bowe, president judge of Schuylkill County. He then joined Dolbin & Cori, where he later became a named partner. In 1986, Jones began his private practice, John Jones & Associates.
Jones served as co-chair for Gov. Tom Ridge’s labor and industry transition team. In 1995, he was nominated by Ridge to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board and later appointed as chairman, a position he held until his appointment to the bench. Jones was named by Time magazine as one of the world’s most influential people in 2006 for his landmark decision in the 2005 Kitzmiller v. Dover School District case, when he ruled that it was unconstitutional to teach intelligent design within a public school science curriculum.
Patton is a 1983 graduate of The Dickinson School of Law and, in addition to serving as chairman of Young Conaway, he is a partner in its bankruptcy and corporate restructuring section.
He is nationally recognized for his representation of large troubled companies and his involvement in complex asbestos bankruptcies. Patton has been ranked as a leading bankruptcy/restructuring lawyer in legal publications.
He is a fellow of the American College of Bankruptcy and chair of the American Bar Association’s Claims Trading Subcommittee. He is also a member of the American Bankruptcy Institute, the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, and serves as chairman of the Chapter 11 Committee of the Bankruptcy Law Section of the Delaware Bar Association.
The Dickinson Law School board of counselors provides advice and strategic guidance to the law school and offers input on external relations from a broad range of important constituencies.
The current board members include Ridge, a 1972 graduate; U.S. Court of Appeals Judge D. Brooks Smith, a 1976 graduate; U.S. District Court Judge Sylvia Rambo, a 1962 graduate; businessman and philanthropist Lewis Katz, a 1966 graduate; board chair and noted corporate lawyer H. Laddie Montague Jr. a 1963 graduate; and Alcoa assistant general counsel Judith Nocito, a 1977 graduate.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Construction update at the destruction of Trickett Hall

From the outside of Trickett Hall, the building looks, more or less, as it did when it was built in 1918.
But on the inside, it’s a whole new, more modern look — something Kate MacKenzie, a third-year student, likes.
The Texas native said she’s happy the school opted to keep the brick facade of Trickett Hall while updating the building’s interior.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Dickinson School of Law reopens Carlisle campus -- Interior of Trickett Hall destroye. No more grand staircases

January 12, 2010 12:00 am  •  

Construction was still evident Monday outside Lewis Katz Hall on the campus of Dickinson School of Law.
Crews worked steadily to finish construction efforts on both the new hall and the renovated Trickett Hall.
But that didn’t stop law students from returning to classes at the historic campus situated on South College and West South streets in Carlisle.
Monday was the first day back for students.
Inside the buildings it was business as normal as students, some toting books and notepads in their arms, shuffled down the corridors while others worked on laptops in common areas.
Every once in a while, a construction worker or someone working to set up the school’s extensive audiovisual systems would walk past.
“It’s a world of difference,” said Adam Deluca, a second-year student, of the new building.
Deluca said he spent time on the campus before renovation and construction work began, as well as at the former Advantica building, the law school’s temporary home along Harrisburg Pike in Middlesex Township.
The school moved to its temporary location in 2006 when work was about to begin at the Carlisle campus. Those temporary digs cannot compete with the newly remodeled and constructed buildings, Deluca said.
“It’s a lot nicer then staring at a truck stop across the street,” he said, referring to the former Advantica building.
Classic exterior, modern interior
From the outside of Trickett Hall, the building looks, more or less, as it did when it was built in 1918.
But on the inside, it’s a whole new, more modern look — something Kate MacKenzie, a third-year student, likes.
The Texas native said she’s happy the school opted to keep the brick facade of Trickett Hall while updating the building’s interior.
The commute to class also got a lot shorter, MacKenzie said.
While the school was located at the former Advantica building a car was required to get her to class; now it’s just a short two-block walk.
“I love walking down here,” MacKenzie said.
However, Deluca said, the new building has its shortcomings.
Though Katz Hall features a host of places to sit and study, Deluca said, they aren’t exactly private. Most of the seating is in common areas in the corridors.
Parking is limited, he added, and could cause some problems when it comes to finding a parking space close to the campus.
Advanced technology
Despite its downfalls, officials say the new law school boasts many more positives.
The H. Laddie Montague Jr. Law Library is updated and covers three floors; it boasts private study rooms and an endless supply of research materials.
Each lecture room has the latest teaching tools that allow classes at the Carlisle campus to connect via a high-definition, digital audiovisual telecommunications system with classes taught at both University Park and around the world, said Nancy LaMont, the assistant dean for administration.
One sports law class recently linked up with students in Illinois, British Columbia, Australia and Cape Town, South Africa.
The law school is the only one in the nation to boast such technology, LaMont said.
“We’re the nation’s pilot program,” she said.
The video equipment also allows students to view their performances in the 200-seat courtroom/auditorium. One camera is strategically positioned behind the jury box so students can see how they look when addressing jurors during class or mock trials.
Each class is also recorded and the recordings are kept for 14 days and are available to be viewed online by students of the classes, LaMont said.
With the world of law turning to technology as a means to cut costs and make the judicial process more streamlined, knowledge in technology learned at the school will transcend to the workplace, she added.
“Our students are going to be ahead of the game,” LaMont said.