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The end of Dickinson?


Over the past few weeks, a number of people employed by and connected to Penn State’s law school have helped draw the following portrait of what’s going on there:

PSU’s law school is the brainchild of Graham Spanier, who early in his tenure at the university’s president decided that the university ought to have a law school, because prestige etc. At that time, Tom Ridge was Pennsylvania’s governor. Ridge is an alumnus of the Dickinson School of Law, a small private law school in Carlisle, which is the seventh-oldest law school in the country, having operated since the early 19th century. (It’s never been affiliated with Dickinson College, the well-regarded liberal arts college in the same town).

Spanier decided that the best way to advance this scheme was to convince Ridge to allow PSU to acquire Dickinson. Over the next few years complex political negotiations — in which Ed Rendell apparently played some role as well — eventually produced the following deal: The law school would become part of PSU, and a second campus for the school would open in State College, site of PSU’s flagship campus. PSU agreed to keep the Carlisle campus open until at least 2025, or 2020 if the university declared a financial exigency. The university committed to spending an enormous sum — about $130 million — on creating the new campus and updating the old one. Consequently, PSU built a $60 million law school building in State Park, which opened in 2009, and spent an additional $50 million on a new building and the upgrading of the existing physical plant at the Carlisle campus. The new Carlisle facilities were completed in 2010.

Spanier’s “vision” called for a law school with a typical first year enrollment of around 240 students, with two thirds of these in State College and the rest in Carlisle. This exercise in classic imperial administrative overstretch began to fall apart almost immediately. Predictably, the faculties of the law school’s two campuses didn’t get along. The State College faculty wanted to chase after rankings, which meant playing the academic prestige game, which in turn meant trying to hire faculty who would publish lots of law review articles. The righteous remnant in Carlisle, also quite predictably, started thinking of itself as focused on professional training — “experiential learning” in the current jargon — rather than on “theory.” (“Theory” is the buzzword for anything smacking of academic pretentions in this thing of ours).

The spat got bad enough that, even though the State College campus had been open for just a few years, the two faculties voted to file for academic divorce, and accepted an arrangement whereby the law school would be spun off into two separately accredited law schools. The ABA is currently finishing up on giving its blessing to the split, which should be completed by next fall or shortly thereafter.

If you think this sounds like a terrible idea, you haven’t heard the half of it. While the faculty was fighting over the wedding china and custody of the kids, enrollment and revenue were both collapsing. The two campus model was premised on having around 700 JD students enrolled at any particular time, while jacking up tuition drastically (it went from $25,500 in 2004 to $42,000 this year). The school enrolled first year classes of between 205 and 230 students in the late aughts, but over the last three years enrollments have plunged. This fall PSU 132 students matriculated at the two campuses, with just 34 of those matriculants beginning their legal educations in Carlisle’s new $50 million digs. (The decline in applications has been even steeper, from 5,326 in 2010 to 1,885 in 2013. H/T JDU.)

Not surprisingly, this whole operation is currently bleeding red ink at what I’m told PSU’s central administrators consider an unacceptable rate. Student-faculty ratio has plunged from 17.3 to 1 in 2004 to 8.8 to 1 in 2013 (for comparison purposes, average law school student-faculty ratios across the nation were 25 to 1 in 1990, 18 to 1 in 2000, and 14.3 to 1 in 2012). The school is spending millions of dollars a year more than it’s bringing in — perhaps $10 million more this fiscal year — and apparently things are going to get worse before they get better, because PSU announced this week that it’s cutting tuition in half for Pennsylvania residents. This announcement provides a dire hint regarding what the school’s current application volume looks like.

Note that this $20,000 annual “scholarship” doesn’t feature any stipulations, and is granted automatically to any state resident the school admits, so it’s really nothing but a straight up 50% price cut. Note too that current PSU 1Ls and 2Ls aren’t eligible for these “scholarships,” which means that next year many if not most of the school’s 2Ls and 3Ls (only 18% of last year’s student body got tuition discounts of half or more) will be paying twice as much in tuition as the entering 1Ls.

PSU’s law school has a total endowment of only $46 million, which is currently being split up between the soon-to-be separate schools. Assuming something like an equal split, each campus will be getting about a million dollars a year in endowment income going forward.

From a financial perspective this can’t and won’t work. Why then, given this ongoing collapse in law school operating revenue is, the university choosing to greatly increase operating costs, by forgoing all the economies of scale generated by being a single law school with two campuses? Now PSU will have to finance two separate law school administrations, two admissions processes, two career services operations, two development offices, etc. etc. Why would PSU’s central administration agree to this obviously untenable arrangement?

One possible answer is gross administrative negligence, which, given the current state of higher education in general, is a theory that has Occam’s Razor to recommend it. I suspect the real answer is rather more Machiavellian. On this account, the faculty divorce is providing central with an opportunity to downsize PSU’s law school operations relatively — at least from central’s perspective — painlessly. Once it has been spun off, the Carlisle version of the school will simply be allowed to die (recall that the campus can be closed in a little more than six years from now if the university declares a financial exigency), thereby permitting PSU to offload around a third of its tenured faculty all at once. The physical plant will be sold off to Dickinson College for pennies on the dollar, the university’s budget will unburden itself of about a dozen expensive faculty lines, and the Dickinson College of Law, will, after nearly two centuries, cease to exist.

It may well be that the Carlisle faculty — who are for the most part quite senior — even recognize this, and would prefer to run out the clock in this fashion, rather than remain tied to their State College brethren. We shall see.

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  • postmodulator

    Some questions:

    1) Was Pitt the only state-run law school in Pennsylvania before 2000? Pennsylvania is a populous state. Ohio has two state-run law schools I can think of without looking it up. I Googled around a bit but couldn’t seem to refine the search just right.

    2) Where’d they get $130 million in the early 21st century? Every state university has been “tightening its belt” since around the mid-80s. That seems like a lot of alumni donations.


    • Mudge

      Temple has a law school.

      • Paul Campos

        PSU’s rate of tuition increase between 2004 and 2013 is actually far lower than average for a putatively public law school over this time period, and would be about average for a private school during this time (CU law school raised resident tuition from $7,600 to $31,100 between 2003 and 2011). As to why this has not produced an auto-da-fe or two yet, I’m still collating data.

        As for how they financed the buildings, the former owner of the New Jersey Nets gave them $15 million for the Carlisle project. I don’t know how much of the rest was financed via donations.

        • postmodulator

          I had no idea tuition hikes were that bad, and I thought they were pretty bad.

          I am interested in the law school posts because I am interested in academia, and I see the problems of law schools as the problems of academia at large, only on steroids. And I am interested in academia because I am employed there, though only as one of the venal administrators bringing the whole thing to ruination.

          • justme

            What’s happening to law schools is a harbinger of what’s happening to higher education. The whole system is falling apart. It used to be that professors were the gatekeepers of information. Not anymore. They used to hold the keys for upward mobility, now they largely sell debt-slavery.

            The crucial question now for higher education is where are all of these liberal art majors going to do now that law school is not an option? Prediction: there will be a ripple effect throughout academia over the coming years.

            • postmodulator

              One of the more stomach-turning experiences on my campus is walking into, say, the office of the English department and seeing giant posters that say, verbatim, “Of course you can get a job with an English degree!”

              The above statement should not be interpreted to propagate the lie that pushing people into STEM degrees is any kind of a solution at all.

            • NewishLawyer

              The problem is as I have pointed out before the situation is really:

              1. Damned if you don’t go to college

              2. Potentially damned if you do go to college.

              The unemployment statistics for people with a college education are much, much better than the people with zero or some college education.

              We don’t have an alternative yet for the no college crowd except a few examples of “Steve Jobs and Bill Gates dropped out of college.” These stories ignore that Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are exceptions, not rules and that both were at the right place and the right time. The early days of an emerging industry before it was credentialed. How many programmers would either Apple or Microsoft hire today without a degree?

              • justme

                Employment statistics are one thing, debt burden is another. Taking about getting a job that pays $x with a college degree without considering the substantial debt burden that many students have is to miss an important part of the story.

              • Unemployed Northeastern

                Unemployment rate for college grads: 7-14%, depending on the study and cohort

                UnDERemployment rate for college grads: 50%

                One should probably note that college graduates’ starting salaries are about 10% lower than they were in 2000, when college and student loans were radically less expensive, and that’s before we get into the trends of college graduates landing in unpaid internships or hiding out in grad/professional school.

                • postmodulator

                  That means “of college graduates who were able to secure employment, it paid 10% less than that of college graduates who were able to secure employment in 2000?”

                  Because yeah, you probably get an even worse figure if you add all the people who are making $0.

                  It’s a damning number either way, when you remember the total government nonresponse to the problem. What exactly do they think a 23-year-old is going to do? Sit quietly and wait to die for the next sixty years?

                  And actually even that’s not fair! One party proposes to let the situation stay as bad as it is; the other one wants to make things worse, by increasing student loan interest rates.

                  Hmmm…maybe if the franchise started at 18 and ended at 65…

                • Philip Arlington

                  The problem that old people have excessive electorate weight, and this encourages politicians to add against the long term interests of society is one of the most profound issues of the age. We need a shorthand term for it, so that it can at least become a recognised problem for discussion.

                  As for the solution? Well, there isn’t one that doesn’t breach the fundamental assumptions of democracy or require a change to human nature, which is depressing for a sincere advocate of democracy. Or is there?

              • MikeMangum

                “How many programmers would either Apple or Microsoft hire today without a degree?”

                I worked for MS for 10 years and I have no degree (or any formal programming classes for that matter beyond BASIC in high school). I think you might be very surprised at how little credentials mean – and that’s largely what they are viewed as – credentials. It is largely understood to mean “has a higher chance of having a basic understanding of programming theory as a base on which to build actual applied skills”. A very large fraction of the practical knowledge gained from earning the degree will be of marginal use in a decade anyway. No one who graduated with a CS degree in 2000 learned C# as part of their study, for instance.

                • postmodulator

                  That doesn’t really address the question. When’d MS hire you?

                  The last development job I applied for, they not only required a degree, they wanted my GPA.

    • JBJ

      If Dickinson has existed since the early 1800s, that’s a lot of years of interest compounding. Just a passing observation….

    • Unemployed Northeastern

      1. w/r/t public law schools in Ohio, you have Ohio State (Moritz), University of Akron, Cleveland-Marshall, University of Dayton, University of Cincinnati, and University of Toledo. That is six, not two.

      2. I don’t have specifics, but just about every college campaign in the last ten-fifteen years has been gangbusters.

      3. A lot of law schools have doubled tuition over the last decade. New England Law of Boston, of the 89% acceptance rate and the $865,000/year dean, comes to mind.

      • postmodulator

        To clarify, I meant that I could think of two law schools without thinking hard. I knew there were more. To quibble further, however, the University of Dayton is not a public school. (Everyone kind of has the impression that it is because of the name.)

        • NewishLawyer

          My bet is that they are Jesuit. University of “Insert City name here” tends to be Jesuit. You also have The University of Seattle, the University of Portland (Oregon), the University of Scranton, the University of San Francisco, etc.

          • postmodulator

            Regular ol’ Catholic, not Jesuit. The Jesuits are an hour down the road at Xavier.

          • Katya

            University of Portland is Holy Cross (like Notre Dame), not Jesuit.

          • djw


        • Unemployed Northeastern

          Whoopsie. I struggle to see how metro Cincinnati can possibly support the U of Cincy, U of Dayton and Xavier law schools, in addition to OSU grads and whatever dozens of law schools may be just over the border in KY and IN.

          • postmodulator

            Well, I mean, they can’t, that’s what we’re sitting here discussing.

          • djw

            Don’t forget Northern Kentucky!

          • Jack

            Xavier does not have a law school, and Dayton and Cincinnati are 54 road-miles apart. It is just Cincy and NKU, relatively small law schools, in the Metro area, which has a population of 2 million. This is not to say that Cincy should not have taken over (killed off) NKU in the 60’s when there as a merger proposal.

            • Unemployed Northeastern

              54 miles is a commutable distance, particularly if one is an indebted law school graduate. Just ask the hordes of people who commute from Providence to Boston through much thicker traffic, for example (or from southern New Hampshire to Boston).

              My informal understanding is that there the economy is a lot more viable in Cincy than Dayton, so I’m sure many of the latter’s law grads look to the Queen City. I can’t think of any equivalents to P&G, Krogers, or Federated in Dayton, anyhow.

              • postmodulator

                My informal understanding is that there the economy is a lot more viable in Cincy than Dayton,

                Your informal understanding actually kind of understates things. The Dayton metro area is like a dystopia. Ohioans, united by their common bond of being stuck in Ohio, still make jokes about Dayton.

  • Mudge

    I am pondering the relative (potential) increase in prestige for PSU from this law school gambit of Spanier’s compared to the loss of prestige from the Jerry Sandusky scandal, under Spanier. It’s sad to sacrifice a 200 year old law school to Spanier’s ego.

    • postmodulator

      It’s rather amazing, the amount of damage that two or three evil morons can do in such a short period of time. You wonder what the point of building the damned institutions is at all.

      • Major Rager

        I see no occasion for sadness. How was a place like Dickinson Law going to continue indefinitely anyway? In light of the dwindling remains of the legal profession, there is now zero rational basis to justify the continued existence of the Dickinson Law Schools scattered all over the country. The administrative incompetence here just put the end on fast forward.

        The people I’m sad for here are the 2Ls and 3Ls at PSU. If I were in their shoes I’d be thinking about burning the fucking building down. It’s bizarre to see how the admin and faculty are displaying open contempt for these kids, their critical thinking skills, and their futures with this price cut. “This is what we think our education is actually worth. You slightly older students, however, will be given the opportunity to pay 2-3x that amount. And now we’re going to somehow fix our mouths to instruct you about ethics and professionalism.”

        • BoredJD

          Sunk cost fallacy. These kids are in, those who could have missed transfer deadlines.

          Of course, if the school went belly up tomorrow and was closed, then the current students would get their loans forgiven.

          • BoredJD

            “those who could have transferred missed their deadlines, and they are not going to “waste” the last few years for $20 or $40K.

          • Andrew

            They’d be able to get their loans forgiven then transfer the credits the next year. I wonder if any are actually hoping the law school will close.

        • Especially the 2Ls. Drop out and re-enroll as a 1L; you pay 1.5 years’ tuition instead of 2 years’ tuition going forward, plus you get an easy repeat year as a 1L, which gives you lots of time to do a really good job of applying for internships and summer associate positions. You’ll probably end up with a better education and more job prospects – and you have a cast-iron explanation for dropping out.

    • JoyfulA

      Dickinson has always been training for Pennsylvania lawyers. Spanier’s brainstorm was a super law school teaching international law, law of the oceans, law of outer space, environmental law, whatever kind of law is the latest buzz, so his law school would be the most talked about in the country. He did not want anything to do with ordinary run-of-the-mill wills and contracts and divorces. How he expected to attract cutting-edge jet-setter law professors, let alone the expected student population, to the middle of nowhere, I have no idea. And Penn State is in the middle of nowhere.

      A few decades ago, Penn State decided it needed a medical school. Fortunately, wiser heads prevailed, and it was not built in State College, where there would have been an acute shortage of nonstudent patients, but in Hershey. I doubt there was an actual need for a hospital there, with established hospitals 15 miles in any direction, but at least there were nonstudent potential patients, and more medical schools are good. Plus certain researchers are having a field days with Amish genetics.

      What I have often wondered is why Penn State doesn’t have a veterinary medicine school. It has agricultural and forestry schools, so it must already be teaching some courses in practical zoology. As far as I know, there is still only one veterinary school in the state, in Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania. A state’s biggest city is a strange place to have the state’s only vet school (although it does or did have a large animal department in the exurbs).

  • Law Student

    What I find most interesting is the divergence in how schools are changing nominal tuition given the downturn in law school enrollment.

    (1) The vast majority of schools are sticking with the status quo of raising tuition 3-5% a year.
    (2)The growing minority of schools are either keeping nominal tuition the same or even decreasing it.
    (3) Some schools are even raising tuition at a much faster rate 8 – 10% to cover operating expenses. These are usually the unranked schools.

    It will be interesting to see what strategy wins out in the long run.

  • Tom Servo

    Didn’t Rick Santorum go there? Good riddance!

  • maxx

    I have an idea !!

    Let’s close both branches and use the $46 million dollar endowment to pay off on a pro-rata basis the NON-DISCHARGABLE loans of several thousand debt slaves whose lives have been blown up by attending this law school.

    • MacK

      $46 million would cover the debt of 460 debt slaves at $100k per – not thousands.

      • maxx

        It’s a start.

        Throw in the proceeds from the sale of the bricks and mortar, and another couple of hundred debt slaves would be set free.

  • BoredJD

    I suspect marking this as a “scholarship” has the added effect of preserving the sticker price on the off chance the market bounces back. You know, because it’s not like it’s for the students or anything.

    • postmodulator

      That has a deep cynicism to it that approaches beauty.

    • Baby Needs-A-Nym

      I would additionally suspect that this allows for all manner of accounting sleight of hand that a simple tuition cut would not.

    • Anonymous

      Trying to remember from when I was in Uni, but if they’re classed as scholarship wouldn’t they be taxable, to boot?

      • PaulB

        This really isn’t a scholarship since any in state applicant automatically gets it. Shouldn’t be an issue even if the school is being less than forthright in describing it.

    • ichininosan

      Correct. It seeks to retain the flexibility to double the rate of tuition for in-state students the moment no one is looking.


      On the other hand, this somewhat prevents the administration from marketing the $22,000 “bargain price.”

      • anonprof

        There may also be institutional reasons for this — the Penn State Board may be reluctant to cut tuition, but the law school can get around this by just offering the “scholarship” to all in-state applicants.

  • RPL

    Paul: I think you are underestimating the role of Pennsylvania politics in creating this mess. Spanier et al, as arrogant and ill advised as they were, never wanted a campus among the truck stops and chain restaurants of US 11 in Carlisle PA. The political deal you describe was brokered after PSU announced it was closing the Carlisle campus and moving to a mansion on a hill on the University Park campus (not State Park; PSU main campus is called University Park and located in the town of State College). The good burghers of Carlisle and Dickenson alums went ballistic, protested, filed suits, and pulled strings in Harrisburg. It turned out all those small town lawyers and politicos (in Central PA “Dickenson alum” and “lawyer” are pretty much synonyms) had a lot of political clout and it didn’t hurt their cause that not a few members of the legislature and a lot of legal bureaucrats in Harrisburg, including the governor’s own counsel, were also Dickenson alums and on their side. The state’s political establishment stuck PSU with the “two campus” solution and also arranged a big industrial development authority loan to upgrade the Carlisle campus. It never made sense but at the time, early to mid ‘00’s, law schools were minting money. PSU tried again to offload Carlisle a year or two ago, as reality was beginning to bite, by announcing a plan to move all first years and basic law school courses to University Park. Carlisle would become the site of the international environmental space law (excuse me, International Relations Law) program and a center for international students, who are, of course, anxious to flock to a sleepy burg 150 miles from the nearest international airport and 90 miles south of the middle of nowhere. It was a pretty obvious attempt to marginalize and kill off Carlisle. The same political coalition beat this one back as well. So this is the third, or maybe the forth, time PSU has tried to unload Carlisle. It remains to be seen whether this time will be any more successful than the others. Which brings me to a larger point: This case illustrates why state law schools will be very difficult to close. They are subject to political pressure and most state schools have a lot of politically connected alums who can do what the Dickenson alums have done.

    • Deggjr

      Yes, and why would anyone want a diploma from a closed law school (or any school) with their name on it hanging on their wall?

    • BoredJD

      Good point- closing a state law school is going to be like trying to close a military base. The school provides hundreds of jobs for the area (both direct and indirectly through construction), plus brings hundreds of students and their federal loan money into the region.

      • Unemployed Northeastern

        If the New England area managed to shutter as many law schools as Bushes 41 and 43 shuttered military bases around here, we’d all be a lot better off.

        • BoredJD

          It may be easier to do so in urban areas like Boston, where presumably the university or the city can repurpose the existing buildings. Then again, the Boston schools I am thinking of have extremely deep alumni networks. I really can’t see Suffolk or Northeastern closing, the roots in local and state government run way too deep.

          NELS, OTOH…

          • Unemployed Northeastern

            I said “New England” as to incorporate bases like:

            – Lorings, which was a massive Air Force base in very northern Maine that supplied like half of the jobs for a geographically enormous area and was shuttered under Bush 41.

            – Otis Air Force Base on Cape Cod, home to the planes that were scrambled during 9/11, and nearly shut down by Bush 43 in 2005.

            – The Naval Air Station in Brunswick, Maine, which Bush 43 did shut down in 2005.

            – The nuclear submarine base in Groton, Connecticut, which Bush nearly shuttered in 2005.

            – The Portsmouth Navy Yard in Portsmouth, NH/Kittery, ME (the states still fight over whose land it is on), which again was nearly shut down by Bush 43 in 2005. This was the first navy yard in the country, and birthplace of the USS Constitution.

            – Fort Devons in central Massachusetts, which was actually shuttered under Clinton.

            In fact, if you look at the list of the 2005 BRAC, you’ll see the axe bears very heavy over New England, which of course never voted for Bush.

            Metro Boston actually has very little in the ways of military installations, beyond some Coast Guard bases and about a zillion erstwhile Nike missile sites. I’d say the largest concentrations are Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island and the Thames River in southeastern Connecticut.

            P.S. Northeastern Law School already closed once, from the mid-1950’s to about 1968 or 1969. They cited financial difficulties and lack of interest from applicants. And the law school hasn’t given an accounting of its endowment since 2003, despite repeated questioning from students and alumni.

          • Unemployed Northeastern

            Northeastern Law School’s endowment, a decade ago when they still talked about it, was about $9 million. New England Law Boston’s, I believe, is more like $65 million. Heck, given that Northeastern is about to undergo a $1.5 billion master plan, fully three times its entire endowment, I’d posit that it will be dangerously dependent on student loans and debt instruments through the next few recessions. It may prove to be Icarean in its ambitions.

    • BH

      Thanks for providing the context. It is always important to know what is actually going on behind the scenes.

    • Jersey Patriot

      My wife is from Carlisle and my father-in-law is a Dickinson alum. Dickinson isn’t set among the truck stops near the Turnpike. It’s actually set in the middle of Carlisle’s colonial-style town center and is quite lovely. The style is similar to Lafayette and Lehigh, two small-town eastern PA campuses.

  • PaulB

    Given the limitation on shutting down Carlisle, a hard assed PSU president would just shut down State College and wait until 2020 to finish the job. There’s no need for a law school on the main campus as this is a thinly populated area and the law school doesn’t add anything to the university’s reputation. I’m sure that the money being used to prop up the law school could be spent more productively elsewhere.

  • In Debt

    2010 Dickinson grad here (Carlisle campus, natch). This post and some of the Dickinson-specific comments are spot on. The whole thing has been a fiasco and the PSU admin has barely concealed their desire to shutter the Carlisle campus for years. This naturally created tension between the campuses, as Paul notes, but not just between the faculty but also the students. By and large, the students who went to UP (University Park) we’re younger–often straight out of college–and the college town atmosphere (read: bars) appealed to them. Carlisle students, while not teetotalers, tended to be more “mature,” either in terms of age or how seriously they took education. And there was a big brother/little brother dynamic going on too: Carlisle was the older child, while UP was the younger and clearly dad’s favorite. UP students knew this and we’re insufferable. Most of the law reviews “coincidentally” had the top editors from UP, etc.

    Anecdote not being evidence and all, but I confidently speak for most of my Carlisle classmates when I say fuck PSU, and I will never give a cent to it so long as the Carlisle campus is in any way affiliated with PSU.

    • DickinsonAlum

      Agreed. I graduated before this two campus fiasco, but after PSU became involved, so I am a PSU graduate to my chagrin. During one alumni donation drive I received a call from PSU seeking a donation. We talked briefly and I explained that I was a Dickinson grad. The person offhandedly remarked, “Oh, so you are not a real Penn Stater”. I agreed, informed them that I hate being associated with Penn State and that they will never receive a dime from me.

  • Chad

    2010 DSL alum here (UP). Certainly the tension between campuses was palatable. Painting with a broad brush, I’d most generally say we considered Carlisle as an unwanted, red headed step child. The school’s shift to “Penn State Law” nomenclature reflects this.

    The salient point, however, is that it was another central PA law school and a 2 campus law school was a stupid idea in the first place. I certainly agree PSU Law, located in central PA, was envisioned as the new home of international law, underwater basket weaving law, and the law of sad kittens. The focus on international law was always misplaced. No one has mentioned the obscure, abstract graduate School of International Affairs also housed within PSU DSL purview. Don’t ask…

  • dsl grad

    As someone who graduated from Dickinson Law before the State College campus even existed, I can say that Dickinson Law alienated the Carlisle alumni and suffered financially as a result. Those of us who graduated from the historic Carlisle campus did not appreciate the focus on the new facility at State College or the fact that the law school largely ignored its history at Carlisle. I stopped attending all alumni events because I have never even been to State College and do not consider the rebranded “Penn State Law” ad my alma mater. I have no interest in socializing with State College alumni who do not appreciate the rich history if the Carlisle location. I tore up any mail i received after the State College branch opened up. Maybe the school should have tried harder not to alienate the Carlisle alumni, which by the way Chad, is the majority of graduates of Dickinson.

  • hokiephile

    The original deal called for keeping the campus in Carlisle with no new law school in State College. Penn State started trying to break all of its promises before the ink was dry.

    Go here for a blow-by-blow record:

    Don’t believe anything Penn State says. Penn State murdered Dickinson School of Law and it was premeditated.

  • Carlislian

    The beloved and universally respected Philip J. McConnaughay, former dean of Penn State’s Dickinson School of Law, founding dean of Penn State’s School of International Affairs and a worthy partner of Graham Spanier where ever he may reside, was able to score the position of dean of Peking University’s School of Transnational Law in Shenzhen, China. Will he come back for Graham’s trial? Is Shenzhen bigger than Carlisle? Will he claim credit for Apple and Foxconn locating operations in the Carlisle area?

    It all makes one wonder why John O’Hara’s books are located in the fiction section of the library.

  • A Recent DSL Grad

    This was very predictable for anyone who knows anything about how Penn State operates. The method may not be as predictable, but the likely outcome of trying to kill off Carlisle was extremely obvious to many as far back as the public revelation that PSU was attempting to acquire DSL. Only the blind or uninformed didn’t see this coming.

    As a recent grad of DSL (’13) and a Penn State lifer, I found the whole relationship between Carlisle, U-Park, and the greater university to be hilarious. I recall my first year that a candidate for SBA president from Carlisle ran on the platform of bringing the two campuses closer together and that Carlisle would bring the “new” and “satelite” campus (read: U-Park) of DSL into the fold. For us PSU alums, it was extremely funny. We had to carefully break it to the Carlisle kids that THEY were the branch campus and that PSU has major issues with treatment of branch campuses. As my years at DSL (the whole “Penn State Law” rebranding never really caught on with me), my classmates and I found great amusement in every announcement, e-mail, speech, rambling by a professor, etc. that addressed the relationship between the campuses, especially in the last 18-24 months.

    In a way, it’s sad because, yes, the historic DSL Carlisle will die off in the future, but for me and many of my classmates, it’s at least provided hours of amusement. Thankfully we’re all gone from that place now.

    • DickinsonAlum

      So you think it is amusing that your law school has become a joke. For better or worse, you are tied to Carlisle being PSU until it ceases to exist, spins off again or is sold. Your comment displays both your character and common sense wonderfully.

  • anonprof

    Paul: One more question. If Carlisle is obviously doomed as soon as Penn State spins it off, why would the ABA allow it to do so? A separate law school with an entering class of 34 simply isn’t sustainable…

    • kindasorta

      Why would the ABA get involved, only to have Penn State tell them that it’s none of their business how they structure an internal downsizing of one law school (albeit one with two campuses)?

  • dsl grad

    I have tp disagree with you Recent DSL grad. Which campus was established in 1834 and graduated four Pennsylvania governors? It was Carlisle, not State College. Carlisle produced many graduates who are successful attorneys and judges. Your reference to Carkisle as a satellite shows a lot of arrogance. With attitudes like this on display in State College, no one at “Penn State Law” should be surprised that the Carlisle alumni do not want anything tp do with State College. That’s ok, though because I am sure State College is a terrific legal market.

  • Ed Pankowski

    PSU ruined DSL … Of which I am proud to be alumni… Aftermath is no Delaware alumni event interest…., So Sad

  • Guest

    Once the Carlisle campus gets its own administration, it may gain the ability to survive, by pursuing whatever tuition-maximizing strategy works best for its unique situation. Its situation would be somewhat similar to that of Vermont Law School.

  • kindasorta

    Dickinson’s alumni base in the middle of the state is large. Granted, nobody’s hiring has really rebounded, but if Dickinson were to shrink its payroll to match a small entering class while passing on the savings to students, it might just thrive in a new niche for people looking at realistic entry-level positions in the middle of Pennsylvania.

    Meanwhile, Penn State-UP is just the doublewide version of the UC-Irvine McMansion.

  • Cogsys

    Sad… My Dad was a Dickinson grad; and one of my earliest memories is attending is graduation (more years ago than I would wish). I thought with the merger that my father had attained one of his dreams posthumously, to attend Penn State as an undergraduate (poor guy had to go to Yale instead.)

    Having attained his dream (albeit posthumously) he’ll now have it ripped away again.

  • Future JD Student

    Christ. I just got into Penn State Law. I was aiming to attend the Carlisle campus. I knew a little about this strife, but this post and the comment section definitely opened my eyes.

    Any advice?

    • Lee Rudolph

      Yeah: don’t let the haters take away your dream of the open road!

    • Anonymous

      Don’t change your plans. Carlisle is a charming little town. You will have the opportunity to connect with the 3rd-largest pool of lawyers in Pennsylvania. You will also become part of a tight-knit community of law students, faculty and staff. I graduated more than 30 years ago, and a few dozen of my Dickinson classmates are still great friends. You won’t get that kind of experience on the campus of a mega-versity or in a large metropolitan area

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