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The University of Idaho is proposing to open a law school campus in Boise, the state capital, before a private law school does. Donald L. Burnett Jr., dean of the public University of Idaho College of Law, argues in a proposal to be heard next week by the state board of education that the law school cannot remain competitive if it stays solely at the Moscow campus in northern Idaho. Concordia University, a private Lutheran university in Oregon, announced early this year that it is considering a law school in Boise. Burnett’s proposal estimates it will cost $6 million per year to open and operate a branch law school in Boise. More than half the money, about $3.4 million annually, will be needed from state coffers, an appropriation one state senator vows to fight. The proposed expansion has a powerful opponent in state Sen. Gary Schroeder, a Republican who sits on the Senate Education Committee and whose district contains the University of Idaho. Schroeder is protective of Moscow’s status in the constitution as home to the University of Idaho, whose 10,000 students are economically crucial to the remote city of 30,000. There have been past attempts to move the law school and other professional schools to Boise, the urban center of the state located 300 miles to the south. “It’s the camel’s nose under the tent,” Schroeder said. “This is the beginning of a 15- or 20-year move (of the law school) to Boise. They’ve already opened an engineering program in Boise. The constitution says the University of Idaho shall be located in Moscow, not located into Moscow until somebody else wants it.” The proposal that will be considered next week includes plans to improve the 35-year-old Menard Law Building in Moscow, Burnett said. Each campus is expected to serve about 250 students after the Boise branch is fully developed. Jeanie-Marie Price, spokeswoman for Concordia University, said the regents approved a plan to open a law school in a building the university already owns in downtown Boise. The university is interviewing candidates for dean and working to raise at least $7 million in Boise to fund the school. Residents of Boise with links to Concordia approached the university about opening a law school there, Price said. The university plans to open the law school within the next two years regardless of whether the University of Idaho opens a law school, she said. “We see a place for both private and public law education in a growing metropolitan area like Boise,” Price said.

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