Nandita Mohan / Sun Staff Photographer

The current law school dean will become the president of Seattle University.

October 23, 2020

Law School Dean Eduardo M. Peñalver ’94 Departs Cornell to Be Seattle University President

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Eduardo M. Peñalver ’94, the Allan R. Tessler Dean of Cornell Law School, will leave Cornell next year to serve as the president of Seattle University starting July 1, 2021.

Peñalver became the first Latino to lead an Ivy League law school in 2014, when he started his term as Cornell Law School’s 16th dean. Peñalver’s presence in the Cornell community began all the way back in 1994 when he completed his undergraduate degree in history at the University.

Peñalver will become the first person of color to serve as the president of Seattle University, a Jesuit institution with over 7,000 students.

During his time at Cornell, Peñalver served as a law professor from 2006 to 2012, after which he taught at the University of Chicago for a short period of time. During his term as dean, Peñalver said funding has helped the law school more than double its spending on financial aid, allowing over 40 percent of students to graduate without debt.

Under Peñalver’s tenure, the law school has also added two new degree programs: a Master of Laws program at Cornell Tech and a Master of Science in Legal Studies for business professionals.

Peñalver has also overseen the expansion of the law school’s clinics, which allow law students to work on cases focusing on different issues, such as the First Amendment and entrepreneurship.

Working on diversity and inclusion at the University, he served as a co-chair on the Presidential Task Force on Campus Climate in 2018, which was created in response to a series of racist incidents on and off campus during the previous semester.

Peñalver will officially step down as dean Jan. 1, but will remain on the Law School’s faculty for the spring semester while Prof. Jens David Ohlin, law, vice dean, will serve as interim dean.

Avery August, vice provost for academic affairs, and Alexander Colvin, Ph.D. ’99, the Kenneth F. Kahn ’69 Dean of the School of Industrial and Labor Relations, will co-chair the search committee for a new dean.