Eduardo Peñalver, Seattle University’s first Latino president and the first layperson to take the helm since the Jesuit university was founded, was inaugurated Sept. 24 at Benaroya Hall in Seattle. Peñalver is the university’s 22nd president, succeeding Jesuit Father Stephen Sundborg, who led the university for 24 years. 

Peñalver, 48, grew up in Puyallup, Washington, and was raised in a Catholic family. He served as the dean of Cornell Law School from 2014 until 2021. Peñalver is a Rhodes Scholar and a professor of law who clerked for former U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. He received his bachelor’s from Cornell’s College of Arts and Sciences in 1994 and his law degree from Yale Law School in 1999. As a Rhodes Scholar, he received his master of arts in philosophy and theology at Oriel College, Oxford. 

The new president’s focus will be on core issues that are aligned with the university’s strategic priorities, including sustainability and climate change, racial justice and economic inequality, and rapidly changing technology and innovation and the impacts on society.