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Forum on Franklin Pierce Law Center Notes Support for Merger

By Jody Record, Campus Journal Editor
May 20, 2009

The findings of a working group gathered to explore the idea of UNH merging with Franklin Pierce Law Center were discussed during an open forum held at the MUB May 15.

Dave Proulx, assistant vice president of budgeting and financial planning, and Nick Smith, associate professor of philosophy, provided an overview of the possible merger. Proulx and Smith explained that UNH seriously considered a merger only after establishing that such a relationship would be, at a minimum, cost neutral to UNH. FPLC has generated significant surpluses in recent years.

A draft of the group’s report will go to President Mark Huddleston this month.

The Concord law school approached UNH with the idea of merging in January 2008 to help FPLC reach its goal of becoming a Top 100 law school. Franklin Pierce is ranked as a third-tier school but is in the top 10 in intellectual property law. It has 480 students, 80 of whom are New Hampshire residents. Tuition is approximately $35,300 a year.

“There are many potential opportunities for UNH,” Smith said. “We’ve tried to identify the collaborations--research, teaching, service, and others--that are most likely to strengthen UNH, FPLC, and the region. We don’t want to underestimate the amount of time and energy it would require to actually realize these benefits.”

“According to the analysis provided in the report, a thoughtfully executed merger seems to make good sense for both UNH and FPLC,” he said.

Where to locate the law school is a sticking point, Smith said, adding that while it makes sense to bring it to Durham, there are good academic reasons for it to stay in Concord. The short-term plan is to leave it in the state capital.

Discussion has included the possibility of offering night and weekend classes. Smith said there is incentive to do so.

Questions asked by those attending the forum related to regional tuition, how UNH would benefit from the merger, resource shortages in liberal arts, and transportation between Concord and Durham.

All of those concerns, and the other issues explored by the working group, indicate the need to be sober in looking at the opportunities and risks, Smith said.

He added, “We would have a lot of work ahead of us to do this right, and we would want to include all members of the community in the implementation discussions.”

The report will be given to Huddleston by May 31. A draft of the working group’s report can be accessed at http://www.unh.edu/president/markhuddleston/speeches/fplc0509.htm.

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