The Dickinson School of Law of the Pennsylvania State University announced that the Council of the American Bar Association’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar (the ABA) has approved the University’s proposal to operate two independent and fully accredited law schools: Penn State Law at University Park and Dickinson Law in Carlisle.
The decision by the ABA allows Penn State to develop the respective strengths of its University Park and Carlisle law school campuses. The two campuses, which have operated together as a single law school, will now operate as independent law schools starting with the class admitted in fall 2015. Both schools will offer three-year J.D. programs and graduate law degree programs.
“The full approval of the ABA for operation as two law schools begins the next chapter of The Dickinson School of Law,” said Penn State Executive Vice President and Provost Nicholas P. Jones. “We believe that two law schools operating independently can more flexibly respond to the needs of law students entering a rapidly changing legal profession. Penn State is offering two quality alternatives to prospective students, who can gain an extraordinary law school experience and education, and stand out in the marketplace for those qualities.”
The change does not affect law students currently enrolled or those who will enroll in Fall 2014. The schools will begin independent operations in Fall 2015. Prospective students for the class that will start in Fall 2015 may apply to either or both schools.
Degrees and diplomas from the two law schools will be in the name of The Dickinson School of Law of The Pennsylvania State University but will clearly reflect their independent and separately accredited status. Both campuses will refer to their affiliation with Penn State, but in general the Carlisle school will be known as Dickinson Law and the University Park school will be known as Penn State Law.
The action to gain separate accreditation for the University Park and Carlisle law school locations was supported by faculty at both campuses. Leaders of the schools say the move will allow each location to promote its individual strengths, and create a vibrant environment for the benefit of students. Each school will have separate deans and separate administrations. Gary S. Gildin will serve as interim dean for Dickinson Law in Carlisle; James W. Houck will continue to serve as interim dean for Penn State Law at University Park. The University will move to appoint permanent deans in the 2014-15 academic year.