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Panel Created To Develop Structure For Unified Penn State Law School

A panel consisting of stakeholders from both of Penn State’s law schools is being formed to develop recommended structures for a unified law school, Penn State announced Tuesday.

The panel’s creation comes following the November 29 recommendation by President Neeli Bendapudi that the university’s two accredited law schools, Penn State Law at University Park and Penn State Dickinson Law, should reunite as a single school.

Penn State Law had previously operated as a one-school, dual-campus law school from 2006 to 2014 before splitting in 2015.

The panel will work to create recommendations based on incorporating both schools’ separate strengths into one accredited law school.

Penn State Dickinson Law Dean Danielle Conway, who will serve as the united school’s dean, and Penn State Law’s Interim Director Victor Romero will serve as chair and vice chair of the panel, respectively. Conway and Romero are currently reviewing nominations and selecting panel members. They are expected to make a formal announcement in mid-January.

The panel will consist of students, alumni, and faculty from both campuses. Panel members will have been selected based on their ability to collaborate and engage in panel discussions and goals, as well as expertise in law school operations and an understanding of both schools’ strengths.

The panel will also aim to receive input from stakeholders who are not a part of the panel through surveys, feedback panels, and potentially creating subcommittees.

“Penn State has two excellent law schools and Dean Romero and I are approaching this process as an opportunity to leverage the strengths of both schools by drawing on the energy and curiosity of students, the administrative experience and problem-solving skills of staff, the expertise and productivity of faculty, the leadership and vision of administrators, and the loyalty and commitment of alumni,” Conway said in a release. “I view this reunifying effort as a continuation of the evolution of legal education over its history.”

Conway added that reuniting both schools will help create opportunities to strengthen legal education and Penn State as a whole.

“This is going to be a thoughtful, reflective process that will include the input, concerns, and values of the students, staff, and faculty at both schools,” Romero said. “We will be working together to form a single law school in a process that overcomes challenges in a positive, forward-looking manner and brings our two communities together.”

“We expect that reuniting the law schools will be a deliberate and careful endeavor so that students separately admitted to Penn State Dickinson Law and Penn State Law, including those matriculating in the fall of 2023, continue to receive the high-quality legal education each school has promised,” Romero continued. “We want to reassure everyone that any transition to the new reunified school will not adversely affect students admitted to either of Penn State’s currently separately accredited law schools.”

The panel will deliver draft recommendations to President Bendapudi by April 30. After reviewing with Penn State leadership, the University Faculty Senate, and other experts, Bendapudi will provide feedback to the panel.

The panel is expected to deliver its final recommendations by May 31. Then, Bendapudi will select a structure for the reunified law school and present it to the Board of Trustees for approval.

This past December, Penn State Law faculty penned a letter in opposition to Bendapudi’s recommendation, citing a loss of “tremendous value” to the university and State College community should the reunited school not maintain and strong presence at University Park.

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About the Author

Anna Wiggins

Anna is a junior majoring in public relations and one of Onward State's social media editors. Hailing from Washington D.C. (aka Alexandria, Virginia), she loves 80's and 90's rock, spending money on clothes, and was born in a pink hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii. Please share your favorite nepo baby with her on Twitter @annaewiggins or send all of your best gossip to her email, [email protected]

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