Penn State names new vice president and general counsel

January 22, 2010

University Park, Pa. — Penn State’s Board of Trustees today (Jan. 22) approved the appointment of former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Cynthia Baldwin to serve as the University's full-time general counsel and chief legal officer.

Baldwin, currently a partner in the Pittsburgh office of the law firm Duane Morris LLP, was elected the first African American female judge of the Allegheny Court of Common Pleas and is past chair of the Penn State Board of Trustees.

She will serve in a transitional role as in-house counsel to help establish and organize the office, manage Penn State's legal function, and pave the way for a permanent general counsel to be hired following a national search.

The University's decision to create an in-house legal counsel is based on a recommendation from an external peer review conducted last year. The conventional model used now by peer institutions is to have in-house counsel oversee legal work and to perform core activities such as reviewing contracts and policies, establishing procedures, and advising the Board of Trustees and senior management.

McQuaide Blasko, a State College-based law firm, has served as general counsel for the University for more than five decades. Much of the University's legal work will continue to be done by McQuaide Blasko.

"We have been served extraordinarily well by McQuaide Blasko and we will maintain a significant relationship with them well into the future," said Penn State President Graham Spanier.

"We are fortunate to have in Cynthia Baldwin someone with such vast legal expertise at the highest level and also a thorough understanding of the University and its needs," said Spanier. "Her oversight during this transition will allow us to implement a model for legal services that addresses our anticipated future needs."

  • Cynthia Baldwin speaking at the groundbreaking for the Lewis Katz Building, now home to the Penn State Dickinson School of Law at University Park, in 2007

    IMAGE: Greg Grieco

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated November 18, 2010