The Penn State Dickinson School of Law is contemplating significant changes as it copes with a nationwide downturn in law school applications, but its commitment to maintaining its dual campuses in University Park and Carlisle remains firm, Dean Philip McConnaughay said.
"We benefit from both locations. We want to be in both locations," he said.
The school plans to reduce total enrollment from about 660 to about 500 students, McConnaughay told the Business Journal in an interview last week. To compensate for the reduction in tuition revenue, the school is strongly considering consolidating first-year classes in University Park, he said.
At present, first-year classes are offered both in University Park and Carlisle. Because they are all taught in person, there are duplications of offerings that consolidation will eliminate, McConnaughay said.
Unlike first-year classes, upper-level courses are taught simultaneously to students on both campuses using high-speed audiovisual technology.
The equipment is sufficiently advanced that the American Bar Association has granted Penn State a variance from its normal restrictions on distance education, McConnaughay said.
The law school will use the resources saved by consolidating first-year courses to enhance other offerings at the Carlisle campus, including a children's law advocacy clinic and international studies, he said.
"We're diversifying," he said. "We think it's a way to meet the changing circumstances of law schools in the United States successfully in a way that advantages our JD students and maintains the vibrancy of both our campuses."
Editor's note: This story has been modified from a previous version to correct the number of students at the Carlisle campus.