President Neeli Bendapudi Approves Unification Of Penn State Dickinson Law & Penn State Law

Penn State’s two accredited law schools, Penn State Dickinson Law and Penn State Law, will unify as one accredited, dual-campus law school following Penn State President Neeli Bendapudi’s recommendation and subsequent approval of the reunification Monday.

Once unified, Penn State’s law program will be called Penn State Dickinson Law, led by current dean Danielle Conway, and located primarily in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. The unification process must still be approved by the Penn State Board of Trustees and the American Bar Association (ABA) before it can be set in motion.

Bendapudi called for the school’s reunification in November 2022 and appointed a panel to recommend the steps necessary to complete the process. Bendapudi accepted the panel’s recommendations in July, and the two programs will begin their transition into one accredited law school over the next several years pending Board of Trustees and ABA approval.

“The panel developed a thorough analysis of the academic, staffing and financial facets of a single law school with two-campuses and presented a compelling vision for a law school that will be innovative in the evolving field of legal education and a leader in training future attorneys,” Bendapudi said in a release. “I want to thank Deans Danielle Conway and Victor Romero as well as each member of the panel for working so diligently and efficiently in developing these recommendations. The work to reunite these schools is still just beginning, but I am excited about the future we are building for legal education at Penn State.”

While the school’s primary location will remain in Carlisle, there will be a “substantial presence” at University Park and within the Lewis Katz Building, which was built in 2009. In the new singularly-accredited, two-campus law school, Dickinson Law will focus on “innovation and leadership in hybrid and remote instruction.” Examples of adjusted teaching models include the expansion of Penn State’s master of legal studies program to synchronous or asynchronous options either in-person, hybrid, or remote models.

Despite likely future unification, both Penn State Dickinson Law and Penn State Law will receive separate applications for the fall 2024 admission cycle.

“Legal education has evolved for a variety of reasons throughout its history in this country, and we are in a period of significant change at this moment as law schools respond to a changing landscape where law and the legal profession are even more critical to a democratic society,” Conway said. “I view bringing together Penn State’s two outstanding law schools as a crucial step in meeting the challenges facing the legal academy and the legal profession in preparing the next generation of lawyer leaders for society. I am looking forward to working with my colleagues at Penn State Dickinson Law and Penn State Law to put this plan into motion and begin the process of building an even stronger law school for our students, staff, faculty, administrators, the university and the commonwealth.”

The Dickinson School of Law was founded in 1834 and began merging with Penn State in 1997. Similar to what is proposed now, Penn State operated as a singularly-accredited, dual-campus law school for eight years from 2006 to 2014, but split into two schools in 2015.

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About the Author

Keeley Lamm

Keeley is a senior from Richmond, Virginia, majoring in journalism. She's an associate editor and talks about awesome stuff on our podcast, Podward State, too. You can usually find her on a porch, but if not, feel free to contact Keeley on Twitter @keeleylammm or [email protected].

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