At its awards dinner on July 21 in Washington, D.C., the Hispanic National Bar Foundation (HNBF) presented Eduardo M. Peñalver, Allen R. Tessler Dean and Professor of Law, with its Academic Leadership Award. Established in 1985, HNBF is dedicated to increasing diversity in the legal profession and helping Hispanics achieve their potential through access to higher education.
"Eduardo M. Peñalver is the first Latino to serve as dean of an Ivy League law school," says HNBF Executive Director Denise Moreno. "This is an incredible accomplishment. In addition, his excellence as the dean of Cornell Law School and his commitment to education through his teaching and written works makes him the ideal recipient of the Hispanic National Bar Foundation's Academic Leadership Award."
"My experience is just a link in a chain that goes back to Latinos who worked in the wilderness of the legal profession years before I ever got to law school," Peñalver said in his remarks at the dinner. "One of the bright spots in my experience as a student at Yale Law School was then Dean of Students Natalia Martin. Her dedication to Latino law students and lawyers has served as an example to me throughout my career. That chain also includes the kinds of trailblazers the HNBF has honored with its lifetime leadership awards-such as the Honorable Cruz Reynoso."
Peñalver continued, "I take a great deal of satisfaction in the many ways, as a dean, I can make my institution more just and more inclusive. Some are very concrete, like the creation of the Farmworker Legal Assistance Clinic, which just celebrated the end of its first, very successful, year. We have also expanded the Law School's financial aid and loan forgiveness efforts. This past year, Cornell University changed how it treats undocumented students for financial aid purposes, even though the federal government has been unable to do so. Some of the ways I have been able to help are more amorphous, like trying to create a climate at Cornell Law School that is welcoming of students from all backgrounds and in which students feel empowered to bring their concerns to the highest levels of the school's administration."