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May 17, 2013 08:04 AM EDT

Penn State Law School Campuses to Function as Separate Schools

Pennsylvania State University
(Photo : flickr) Pennsylvania State University

Penn State University Board of Trustees has agreed to pursue separate American Bar Association accreditations for its Dickinson School of Law campuses at Carlisle and State College before they can operate as two independent law schools, beginning from the academic year 2014-15.

The Carlisle campus may focus majorly on regional admissions and educational programs such as community-based law practice, public sector lawyering, public interest lawyering and other aspects of lawyering skills acquisition.

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It will help improve the legal education opportunities for Penn State undergraduates and for individuals whose academic profiles feature LSAT scores and undergraduate GPAs.

If these proposals are fully incorporated, the Carlisle campus might emerge as the foremost regionally-focused law school in the greater Harrisburg-Baltimore region.

On the other hand, the University Park campus will be converted into the school's flagship campus, offering high-standard national, international and interdisciplinary opportunities for students.

Since the course offerings are different in both the campuses, the officials' idea of job opportunities for their graduates also differs.

Officials at the University Park campus hope to place their students at top national firms or engage them in scholarly work that is recognized nationally and internationally, while graduates at Carlisle school will be nudged toward Pennsylvania's courtrooms and government offices.

"The dramatic changes over the past several years in the markets for legal services and legal education require new approaches that focus on high-quality programs, affordability, meaningful jobs for graduates and a global reach," said outgoing Dean Philip J. McConnaughay in a statement.

Currently, Carlisle's student body is the smallest, comprising of 170 students, as compared to University Park's 429 students.

However, before any of these propositions could go forward, lectures and faculty staff at Carlisle have urged the officials to look into their clauses:

-        Separation should not be forced upon until both the campuses obtain separate accreditations.

-        Deans should share equal places in the Penn State hierarchy, with equal reporting powers to the provost and Penn State's top academic officer

-        The inaugural class size of the Carlisle campus should not comprise more than 60.

These conditions were put forth to prevent any undue influences and advantages being allocated to University Park.

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