On Oct. 30, 2010, President William G. Durden '71 led a dedication ceremony that highlighted the lonstanding relationship between two separate, yet symbiotic institutions: Dickinson College and the nearby Pennsylvania State University Dickinson College of Law. Learn more about this event. President William G. Durden '71 delivers remarks at the Dual-Degree Ceremony.
Remarks of President William G. Durden '71
Dual Degree Reception
Saturday, October 30, 2010
I am delighted to take this opportunity to celebrate Dickinson’s longstanding relationship with the law school. As many of you know, the college’s founder, Dr. Benjamin Rush, was committed to preparing Dickinsonians for civic duty and public service by developing a thorough understanding of the legal and governmental foundations of our society. And this is certainly the case in terms of our graduates who have gone on to pursue careers in law. In fact, in research done a few years ago, it was determined that one out of every 10 Dickinson College graduates was a lawyer!
That coupled with the fact that we currently have nearly 450 living alumni who have received degrees from both the college and the Penn State University Dickinson School of Law, we felt it only fitting to celebrate this long and collegial relationship.
That said, the relationship between our two institutions has not been without ambiguity and confusion over the years. In fact, after studying the history of the relationship, one might say there has been “purposeful ambiguity”.
It all started in 1833 when Judge John Reed, who had attended the college, proposed that he open a law school in Carlisle that would have “some nominal connection with the college.” The trustees of the college decided to establish a professorship of law and named Judge Reed as the first appointee. It was also decided that the appointee would NOT be an official member of the college faculty, but would have total control of the law school. That said, enrolled students did receive a Dickinson College degree – hence the start of the ambiguity.
The law school was led by Judge Reed until his death in 1850. The professorship was intermittently filled until 1890 when William Trickett, Dickinson College class of 1868, and his close friend, Wilbur Fisk Sadler, approached the college trustees with the idea of formally incorporating a law school. The law school was chartered as an independent nonprofit corporation separate from the college, however, the “purposeful ambiguity” remained.
The Articles of Incorporation for the law school stated that the current president of the college was to be president of the law school’s board of trustees. And additionally, the law school catalogue was published as part of the college catalogue and law students were allowed to join the college’s fraternities and play on athletic teams!
One might say that the confusion continued within the wider public, but also within some of our own graduates(!) until the 1997 merger with Penn State. It then finally became clear to all that we are indeed two separate institutions which continue to enjoy neighboring space and a very amicable and beneficial relationship for our students who have received degrees from both of our fine institutions, some through the 3-3 program.
Over the decades, together our institutions have contributed a vast number of practitioners to the PA bar and to the federal and Commonwealth benches, including many right here in Cumberland County. We have also jointly sent many lawmakers to the assembly rooms of our commonwealth and federal legislatures.
So today we are proud to honor these dual degree recipients. And we are doing so—in a somewhat unorthodox manner—by dedicating, on the college’s campus, a former landmark of the law school—the cupola that topped the Levinson Curtilage Residence Hall for so many years.
As many of you know, the college has received many accolades for our environmental and sustainability efforts—we are always keeping a keen eye out for ways to reuse and recycle. So when I, and other senior administrators, saw the Curtilage cupola sitting forlornly in the midst of the law school renovation construction, we inquired as to its fate. When learning that there was no intended use for it, my colleagues and I decided that it needed a home and it was therefore decided that we would fix it up, bring it to this location AND that it be used to start a new athletics tradition at the college.
As you all know, we have had an ongoing athletic rivalry with Gettysburg and Franklin & Marshall which, for football, means the swapping of the Oaken Bucket and the Conestoga Wagon respectively, to whichever team wins. While these traditions continue, we are also seeing a new significant rivalry emerging with Johns Hopkins University—the famed Hopkins Blue Jays, also part of the Centennial Conference….and of course, my graduate alma mater and former employer!
So, with a cupola that looks strikingly like a bird house, the tradition of the Blue Jay occupying the bird house was born. When Dickinson wins in football (or in women’s soccer to make sure we’re in compliance with Title 9!), the Blue Jay is confined inside the bird house. And when Hopkins wins, the Blue Jay flies free outside of the bird house. While the Blue Jay was living inside the bird house after the women’s soccer win earlier this fall, as you can see the Blue Jay is now flying free, although within his protective Lucite box, due to our loss in football.
While this is becoming a fun new tradition at the college, it doesn’t take away from the cupola’s symbolism on our campus. It honors the wonderful, if only a big confusing, history of our two adjoining institutions, both of which have long histories in this region and in the Commonwealth. We, at the college, are proud of this joint history and especially proud of our dual degree alumni.
I would like to thank you for being here today for this important and symbolic event. And I hope that those of you who haven’t already toured the newly renovated law school will take advantage of the tours following this reception. Thank you and enjoy the rest of the weekend.