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Penn State in talks on transferring
Dickinson Law School to Dickinson College

By MARK SCOLFORO, Associated Press Writer
September 17, 2004

HARRISBURG -- Penn State University and Dickinson College said Friday they have begun negotiating a possible transfer of affiliation for Dickinson School of Law from the university to the college.

Despite having the same name, a location beside each other in Carlisle and close ties in the 19th century, Dickinson College and Dickinson School of Law have operated as separate entities for the past 114 years.

The law school began the process of affiliation with Penn State in 1997 and became fully affiliated three years later.

Earlier this year, the 600-student law school's governing board began to consider a move to State College or the prospect of operating a split campus, proposals that generated community backlash. Last month, the board said it was opposed to a split campus and wanted to focus its future in Carlisle.

Dickinson College spokeswoman Christine Dugan characterized the discussions as preliminary, but said the transfer offered some obvious advantages, namely "the historic affinity between the law school and the college, our proximity and our commitment to the Carlisle community."

Dugan said the college wants to determine if operating the law school would adversely affect services to its 2,500 undergraduates, and is looking at funding sources for extensive renovations the law school buildings require.

"I know it's up in the tens of millions (of dollars)," she said. "I don't know exactly -- that will obviously be part of the exercise."

Penn State released a statement saying that Dickinson College could help the law school establish cross-disciplinary classes and that a transfer would keep the law school in Carlisle.

Any deal would require the approval of the law school's governing board, which retained control over the name and location of the law school after the merger with Penn State. Gov. Ed Rendell has committed up to $25 million in state matching funds to renovate the law school if it stays in Carlisle.

LeRoy S. Zimmerman, chairman of the law school's Board of Governors, said he learned of the discussions only recently and wanted more details before weighing in.

"Certainly Dickinson College has an outstanding reputation as a liberal arts college. And there is a lot of history as well as proximity that would be a positive. But there are plenty of issues to discuss before anyone wants to enter into a second marriage," Zimmerman said.

He said the law school's capital needs include heating and air conditioning equipment, electrical work, additional space and long-distance learning capacity.

This is not the first time a Penn State expansion has strayed from the plan.

In 1997 Penn State's Hershey Medical Center merged with Danville-based Geisinger Medical Center to become Penn State Geisinger Health System, a sprawling system that covered much of central Pennsylvania.

But within two years officials were negotiating the division of the two entities. They finally split in the summer of 2000 in a court settlement that cost Penn State $116.5 million.

Dickinson relationship in jeopardy

By Randy Winder
Collegian Staff Writer
Sept. 20, 2004

The relationship between Penn State and the Dickinson School of Law might soon end, following months of unsuccessful discussion that would have created a dual campus, bringing the law school partially to University Park.

Officials from Penn State and the Dickinson College announced late Friday that preliminary discussions regarding a possible change in the law school's affiliation with Penn State would begin soon.

Penn State issued a statement saying the two schools are looking into ending the seven-year relationship, allowing an affiliation to form between the law school and Dickinson College, located near the law school in Carlisle.

Penn State spokesman Bill Mahon said discussions have not taken place yet, but the two sides have agreed to consider a compromise, he said.

"It seems to make a lot of sense to them," he said.

He said the change might be attractive to Dickinson because the schools are in close proximity to each other, adding that the discussions would present an opportunity to address some of the concerns many people in Carlisle had about moving the law school.

"There are some obvious reasons on the surface why Dickinson is interested," he said. "It is obvious that for a law school to be competitive, it needs to be affiliated with a major university."

Mahon said that since the law school's Board of Governors voted against the dual-campus plan in August, the discussions present a new opportunity to help the law school become affiliated with a large school other than Penn State.

"If they pursue this, it would give the law school the larger university affiliation it needs to be a top institution in the nation," he said.

Mahon added that the possible affiliation with Dickinson College would have a lot of appeal for both the college and the Dickinson School of Law to look into.

If the board decides the law school should be with Dickinson College, Penn State may loose all affiliation with the school and would return to not having a law school, he said.

Mahon said he did not know the schools' exact position, but said officials are interested enough that they want to begin talks with Dickinson College.

"The clear trend in higher legal education is to have law schools affiliated with larger institutions so that students and faculty can get involved in interdisciplinary studies and research," he said. "Our interest all along is that we wanted to see the school succeed."

Dickinson College spokeswoman Christine Dugan said the college is ready to begin deliberations with Penn State and added that the talks would be a detailed process of "due diligence."

"We are a liberal arts college and to take this on would completely change our identity and reshape our mission," she said.

Dugan said the college is looking at the issue from three perspectives: the affinity between the two schools in Carlisle, Dickinson's commitment to the Carlisle community and the proximity of the their locations.

"We entered this agreement to see if this move would be a good fit," she said. "There are a lot of factors that have to be addressed before any type of specific negotiations can take place."

She added it was too premature to speculate on any goals that might result from the college's affiliation with the law school.

Dugan said the two schools have had a very loose affiliation for more than 100 years, but have never been associated.

Dugan said that if Penn State's administration, Board of Trustees and Dickinson's Board of Governors agree, negotiations with Penn State could begin.

Penn State and the Dickinson School of Law joined forces in 1997 and became fully affiliated in 2000. Though Dickinson College and the law school are located next to each other and have had close ties, they have always operated as separate entities.