Community Mourns Passing of Robert Stengel ’23


Robert Stengel ’23, remembered as a brilliant and tenacious student who studied and attended classes via Zoom from his hospital bed even while undergoing cancer treatment, died on Dec. 8. He was 34.

Stengel began law school in the fall of 2020, shortly after going into remission from cancer in 2019. 

“Even though the majority of classes that year were on Zoom, Rob quickly left an indelible impression on both classmates and professors — myself among them, as his brilliance, warmth, and personality shone in my Criminal Law class his first semester,” Dean Michael T. Cahill said. “He was a stellar student, and, far more than that, a kindhearted and compassionate colleague and mentor. His ability was matched only by his profound and endearing humility.” 

Stengel served on the Law Review in his 2L year, participated in the appellate division of the Moot Court Honor Society, and volunteered to spearhead the student group working to create the journal’s summer writing competition. 

When Stengel’s cancer returned in May 2022, he pursued treatment and spent endless hours in his hospital bed at Memorial Sloan Kettering studying and watching class lectures, completing his postponed spring exams. He attended classes while still undergoing treatment in the Fall 2022 semester, but experienced severe side effects that prompted him to discontinue treatment and focus on palliative care, while spending the time he had left with loved ones.  

He married his wife, politics and culture writer Ashley Reese, in an Oct. 16, 2022, backyard wedding in Brooklyn that was chronicled in Vogue. Shortly thereafter, Dean Cahill presented Stengel with his Brooklyn Law School diploma, “which he earned as fully and as richly as any BLS student has ever done,” Cahill said. See video of the dean presenting Stengel his diploma early. 

Stengel was surrounded by friends and family when he passed away. Our Brooklyn Law School community joins in expressing our sincere condolences to his loved ones.