Eduardo M. Peñalver, J.D.

President, Seattle University

Eduardo M. Peñalver, J.D.

Eduardo M. Peñalver, J.D. became the 22nd president of Seattle University in July 2021. Prior to being named president, Peñalver served as the dean of Cornell University’s Law School. Peñalver is a Rhodes Scholar and a professor of law, who clerked for former U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. He was the first Latino dean of an Ivy League law school when he was appointed to the role in 2014.

At Cornell Law, Peñalver helped guide the school through one of the most turbulent periods for American law schools in living memory. Through successful fundraising and an openness to experimentation, Cornell Law School thrived. Since 2014, the law school has raised more than $100 million in new gifts and commitments, with more than $25 million of that dedicated to financial aid. During that same period, the school improved the credentials of its incoming classes, while increasing the diversity of the student body. It also launched new clinical and academic programs both online and in Ithaca, NY and New York City.

Peñalver also held leadership roles outside the law school. He served on the Board of Directors of eCornell, Cornell University’s platform for online education, and led successful searches for Cornell’s university counsel and the new dean of the College of Engineering. Peñalver spearheaded university task forces on campus speech, as well as the use of race in undergraduate and professional school admissions, and was a key administrator for producing campus programming focusing on the intersection of free speech and an inclusive campus environment.

Peñalver received his Bachelor’s degree from Cornell’s College of Arts and Sciences in 1994 and his law degree from Yale Law School in 1999, where he wrote his law review note on the constitutional definition of religion. He joined the Cornell faculty in 2006 and the University of Chicago Law School faculty in 2013, and taught at Fordham Law School from 2003 to 2006. In addition, Peñalver has been a visiting professor at Harvard and Yale law schools.

Upon completing law school, Peñalver clerked for both Judge Guido Calabresi of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. Between college and law school, Peñalver studied philosophy and theology as a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford.

Peñalver’s work on property law has been published in scholarly law journals at Yale, the University of Michigan, Cornell and the University of Pennsylvania. He is considered a leading voice in the “progressive property” movement, deriving many of his insights from Catholic social teaching. His research explores how property law creates or reinforces communal bonds and how property rights mediate the relationship between individuals and communities. His book, Property Outlaws (co-authored with Sonia Katyal), published by Yale University Press in February 2010, explores the vital role of disobedience within the evolution of property law. His most recent book, An Introduction to Property Theory (co-authored with Gregory Alexander), was published by Cambridge University Press in 2011.

Peñalver is married to Sital Kalantry, a professor of law, an associate dean and director of the RoundGlass India Center at Seattle University. The two met as undergraduates at Cornell and have two sons.