In an update to a story we covered not too long ago, Penn State could be splitting the Dickinson School of Law into separate accredited law schools, one located in Carlisle and one located in State College.
Dean Philip J. McConnaughay wants to consider each student who applies to Penn State for law school during the year as an applicant at both law school locations. Each campus will make its own decision as to admit the student or not, according to a report in The Patriot-News.
If a student is accepted to both schools he or she will be permitted to choose which campus they wish to attend law school, either in State College or in Carlisle. State College offers the feel of the big campus and Carlisle offers a better locale to court and government buildings.
The Patriot-News spoke with McConnaughay on Thursday after he took part in a briefing with law school faculty members. If the new admissions plan is approved, the schools would be competing with each other for students eve before they acquire their individual accreditation. Accreditation for the Dickinson school will be effective at both campuses as the plan is enacted.
“They’re already operating two programs at different locations, each of which offers the students in attendance everything they need,” explained Barry Currier, who directs the ABA’s accreditation program. “They’re accredited now and will continue to be.”
When McConnaughay left the meeting with the faculty, he left with the feeling that his plan is gaining support.
“I’d say the level of acceptance and commitment to making it work was higher than I expected,” he said. “There are questions about how it is going to work. But not a lot of disagreement that perhaps this is a good way to go.”
McConnaughay said that his first goals are to construct faculty committees and administrative and admissions structures that both schools will need if they wish to operate independently. Faculty appointments will need to be made in Carlisle to support independent student bodies, which will grow from 170 students to 300 students.
The plan to split the schools arose last month as an alternate plan to McConnaughay’s idea to shrink and consolidate law classes for first-year students at the school in State College. McConnaughay announced the new split plan on November 20 and said that it will work because it will be two individual student bodies supporting two schools instead of one student body supporting two schools.