Proposal stuns law school board members

By David Blymire,
Sentinel Reporter
July 22, 2004

A draft proposal to revise the Dickinson School of Law merger agreement with Penn State could give the university a mechanism to close the law school's Carlisle campus, members of a Dickinson School of Law committee said Wednesday.

Penn State Solicitor Wendell Courtney and Director of Finance Gary Shultz presented 11 draft "discussion points" of possible ways to revise the 1997 Dickinson-Penn State merger agreement needed to accomplish a proposed split of the law school into two campuses. One of those points involves the mechanism to close the Carlisle campus.

Their presentation was part of a meeting of a Dickinson School of Law committee Wednesday at the Buchanan Ingersoll law office in Harrisburg. The committee was impaneled to study a proposal to split Dickinson into two full-fledged law school campuses, one in State College and one in Carlisle.

Board members seemed surprised that Penn State would attempt to get them to agree to give the university board of trustees the power to close the Carlisle campus.

"We're lawyers -- we've spent our lifetimes studying documents," said board member Arthur Piccone. "You can't expect us to fall asleep."

Penn State Solicitor Wendell Courtney said Wednesday that Penn State cannot project what will happen in the future and needs the "fiduciary flexibility" to address unforseen problems.

"We hope we never need to get to this provision, into perpetuity, forever," Courtney said in defense of the provision. "We are going to do our darndest to never get there. But what happens if something dire happens?"

Carlisle lawyer Hubert Gilroy, a member of the law school committee, responded that "I think Penn State negotiated away that flexibility with the merger agreement."