McConnaughay, who has been the law school dean since 2002 and was the founding dean of Penn State's School of International Affairs, will help Peking University develop its American-style law degree programs, according to Penn State.
"Dean McConnaughay has been a leader in transnational legal practice and international arbitration. This rare opportunity for him to influence legal education on a global scale certainly speaks volumes about his expertise and skills," Penn State President Rodney Erickson said in a statement on the university website.
McConnaughay had an active, and at times controversial, 11 years with Penn State. In Carlisle, his 2006 two-campus proposal for Dickinson School of Law was met with suspicion by many in the Cumberland County community who saw it as a way for Penn State to gradually withdraw from Carlisle.
Local leaders considered that detrimental to the community, particularly when it was suggested that Penn State might move first-year students to the University Park campus in Centre County. The law school has called Carlisle home since 1834.
However, in November, McConnaughay proposed separate accreditations for the two law school campuses following political opposition in Carlisle. The plan for independent schools under the same banner is similar to those used by Rutgers Law and Arkansas Law.
The plan was met with general optimism, but also some skepticism by various groups in the community and law school.
McConnaughay's other accomplishments included construction of a new law school in University Park, renovation of the Carlisle campus, improved student diversity and academic credentials, $130 million investment in new green-certified facilities, creation of numerous legal clinics and establishing collaborative international research opportunities.
"The University's unwavering support of the law school, and the dedication and hard work of my colleagues, have been instrumental in transforming the Dickinson School of Law into one of the most innovative and outstanding programs of legal education in the United States today. I look forward to the continued success of the law school and School of International Affairs," McConnaughay said in a statement.