Touro chief says law school not for sale

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Discussions about the sale of the Touro Law Center to Stony Brook University never made it past the preliminary stage, Stony Brook president Shirley Strum Kenny said yesterday.

"We had very preliminary talks," Kenny said. "We were certainly not at the point of negotiating."

Bernard Lander, founder and president of Touro College, whose main campus is in Manhattan, said yesterday he would never sell the law school. The college operates the Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center in Central Islip.

"I never met with anybody or spoke to anybody at the state university," Lander said in an interview. "I had one meeting with Sen. [Kenneth] LaValle. Period. I never negotiated with anybody." Lander said that when Touro law school dean Lawrence Raful asked him for his opinion and that of the school's board, "I said the law school charter is never for sale. Period."

Talk of a possible sale surfaced in early February in an effort to make Stony Brook the second university after the University of Buffalo in the State University of New York system to have a law school.

Kenny confirmed she and Lander had never met to discuss the law school. "There were conversations with people in the law school," she said, "but they were very preliminary discussions. We never got into any negotiations."

Kenny said those discussions did serve a purpose: They revived the idea of adding a law school at Stony Brook.

"Dr. Kenny and I have agreed to move forward and look at and explore the possibility of establishing our own law school at Stony Brook," said LaValle (R- Port Jefferson).

"It's not a new concept," Kenny said, noting that university officials first considered the addition of a law school in the 1970s and then again in the 1980s. "But now people feel it's the last piece of putting together a major research university. ... It's something we will be considering very seriously."

Though no agenda has been put in place, Kenny said a committee will be formed to study the feasibility of building a law school. "I think there is a lot of interest now in the possibility of developing a law school at Stony Brook. Now, nothing has happened on that score."

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