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Cornell Law School Dean returns to home state to lead Seattle University

Seattle University campus. (MyNorthwest file photo)

Eduardo M. Peñalver has been named the next president of Seattle University, beginning his official duties on July 1, 2021.

Peñalver will be the university’s 22nd president, its first Latino president, and the first layperson to lead Seattle U since its founding in 1891, according to a release from the university.

The current president, Stephen Sundborg, previously announced he will step down in June after 24 years leading Seattle U.

Peñalver is the dean of Cornell University’s Law School, a Rhodes scholar, and a professor of law who clerked for former U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. He grew up in Puyallup, Wash., and received primary education at his parish school, All Saints, before attending Henry Foss High School in Tacoma.

“I am so grateful to join Seattle University, excited about its future and looking forward to working with all of the faculty, staff, students, and alumni of Seattle University to bring that future into being,” Peñalver said. “It is an honor to follow Father Steve, who has expertly steered the university these past two-plus decades and for the opportunity to build upon the solid foundation he has laid.”

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Chair of the Seattle University Board of Trustees Nicole Piasecki says the Board’s decision was “as enthusiastic as it was unanimous.”

“Dean Peñalver is a brilliant scholar and highly respected dean, professor of law and leader of one of the nation’s top law schools,” Piasecki said. “He’s an innovative thinker who understands the power of partnerships and collaboration. He is passionate about the power of the university to make the world a better place. His leadership qualities, background and experience make him uniquely well-suited to lead Seattle University into the future.”

Peñalver became the first Latino dean of an Ivy League law schools when he was appointed to his current role at Cornell in 2014. He is in his second five-year term as dean.

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