May 24, 2017

Princeton Day School Presents Alumni Award To Robert S. Mueller III

DISTINGUISHED ALUMNUS: Former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, recently appointed as special counsel to investigate President Trump’s campaign ties with Russia, was presented with the 2017 Princeton Day School Alumni Achievement Award in April in Washington, D.C. Mr. Mueller is an alumnus of Princeton Country Day School, one of the founding schools of PDS. (Photo Courtesy of PDS)

Last week was an eventful one for former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III. On Wednesday, Mr. Mueller was appointed by the Justice Department as special counsel to investigate ties between President Trump’s campaign and Russian officials, and on Saturday he was honored (in absentia) with Princeton Day School’s (PDS) Alumni Achievement Award as a member of the class of 1959 at Princeton Country Day School (PCDS), one of the founding schools of PDS.

Of course, at the time of his selection for the alumni award earlier this year, neither Mr. Mueller nor PDS could have realized the fortuitous timing of the award in conjunction with his historic appointment.

“I am honored to be a part of your ceremonies today,” Mr. Mueller said in videotaped remarks presented at the PDS ceremony Saturday evening, “and to join the distinguished list of individuals who have received the honor before me. I have very fond memories of my teachers and classmates and teammates from Princeton Country Day School.”

Mr. Mueller played on the soccer, ice hockey, and baseball teams at PCDS and would ride his bicycle from his family’s home near the graduate college and Springdale Golf Course to the PCDS campus on Broadmead Street. He noted, “The campus has seen many innovations since my time in the classrooms on Broadmead, but some things have not changed: the tradition, the values, the strong academic foundation that are still present in the graduates of Princeton Day School.”

Mr. Mueller’s family moved to Philadelphia after his eighth grade year, and he went to St. Paul’s School in New Hampshire for secondary school, then on to Princeton University, where he graduated with a degree in politics in 1966.

He went on to receive a master’s degree in international relations from New York University, then served three years in the Marine Corps, where he received the Purple Heart and Bronze Star Medal for service in Vietnam. He returned to the U.S. to earn a law degree from the University of Virginia in 1973.

After more than two decades of distinguished service in private practice and in the U.S. Department of Justice, including positions as assistant attorney general for the Criminal Division, acting deputy attorney general, and the U.S. attorney in San Francisco, Mr. Mueller was named the sixth director of the FBI on September 4, 2001, a week before the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

He is credited with transforming the FBI from an organization investigating criminal activity to a national security organization that addresses national and international security service. Working with both Republican and Democratic presidents, Mr. Mueller served until 2013, a two-year extension beyond his ten-year term, which was readily approved by Congress at the request of President Obama. James B. Comey, who was abruptly fired by Mr. Trump two weeks ago, was Mr. Mueller’s successor as FBI chief.

After leaving his post at the FBI in 2013, Mr. Mueller became a partner at WilmerHale in Washington, D.C., where his practice focused on investigations, crisis management, privacy, and cybersecurity work.

Mr. Mueller has been widely acclaimed for his integrity, his record of service, and stellar reputation as a prosecutor.

“Bob deserves Alumni of the Year recognition from all the schools he ever attended,” said John Keker, founder and partner of the California law firm Keker, Van Nest & Peters, who knew Mr. Mueller at Princeton when they were undergraduates and later faced off against him as defense counsel when Mr. Mueller was assistant U.S. attorney in the 1970s and 80s.

“I have known Bob Mueller for more than 50 years,” Mr. Keker said, “and couldn’t be happier that he has taken this on. His conclusions will be the honest truth, no spin, no holds barred, no political interference. We went to college together, were Marine infantry platoon leaders in Vietnam at close to the same time, tried cases against one another when he returned to California. I have no doubt whatsoever about Bob’s integrity, honesty, love for the country and the rule of law, and ability to get to the bottom of whatever went on regarding Russia and the election.”

Another former schoolmate (who preferred to remain anonymous), a year ahead of Mr. Mueller at St. Paul’s, Princeton and UVA Law School, recalled, “he was unimpeachable — no pretensions, a humble man. I have great admiration for him. We had an epic tennis match in law school. He is such a public servant, never seeks the limelight.”

In writing about Mr. Mueller last month for the PDS Journal, Linda Stefanelli concluded, “He believes that keeping one’s values intact is simple, whether fighting a war, upholding the law, or responding to a national crisis,” and she quoted Mr. Mueller: “You just hang on to your core beliefs.”