The Penn State Dickinson School of Law in Carlisle has received approval for separate accreditation.
The university submitted its proposal to the American Bar Association at the end of 2012. Former Dean Philip McConnaughay said then that independent campuses would increase student choice and give each campus the ability to attract top students.
McConnaughay also said he expected to see Carlisle go back to the traditional focus of the Dickinson School of Law before the merger, which was maintaining a strong regional presence and producing more community-based lawyers. The University Park campus would be geared more toward the national and international.
The decision from the ABA will affect the class admitted in fall 2015, according to the university. Both schools will offer three-year juris doctor and graduate law degree programs.
The change will not affect law students currently enrolled or those who will enroll in fall 2014.
“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 Jones in a news release. “We believe that two law schools operating independently can more flexibly respond to the needs of law students entering a rapidly changing legal profession.”
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, according to the university. The Carlisle school will be known as Dickinson Law and the University Park school will be known as Penn State Law.
Each school will have separate deans and separate administrations. Gary Gildin will serve as interim dean for Dickinson Law in Carlisle; James Houck will continue to serve as interim dean for Penn State Law at University Park.
The university said it will move to appoint permanent deans in the 2014-15 academic year.