News & Events
Posted March 5, 2013

FBI Director Robert Mueller to Receive Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Law

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Toby Heytens

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III will receive this year's Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Law.

Robert S. Mueller III, the longest-serving FBI director since J. Edgar Hoover and a 1973 graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, will be awarded the 2013 Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Law as part of UVA's Founder's Day celebration in April.

Contact: Brian McNeill

Mueller was nominated by President George W. Bush to serve as the sixth Director of the FBI and he took office on Sept. 4, 2001, just one week before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He is poised to step down this year, concluding a 12-year tenure in which he has overseen the transformation of the FBI from a law enforcement agency focused primarily on criminal investigation to a national security service dedicated to preventing terrorism and crime.

"Robert Mueller's accomplishments are remarkable standing alone, but his integrity, dedication, discipline and humility make him an ideal candidate for the Jefferson Foundation Medal in Law," said Law School Dean Paul G. Mahoney.

Sponsored jointly by the University and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, the nonprofit organization that owns and operates Monticello, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medals recognize the achievements of those who embrace endeavors in which Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and third U.S. president, excelled and held in high regard, including law, architecture and leadership.

As director of the FBI, Mueller oversees an agency with more than 36,000 employees and a fiscal 2012 budget of around $8.2 billion.

FBI directors are limited by law to a single term of no more than 10 years, but Congress extended Mueller's tenure in 2011 by an additional two years at President Barack Obama's request. At the time, Obama said Mueller had set the "gold standard" for leading the FBI and that his leadership provided stability at a time of threats facing the nation.

Mueller spoke at UVA Law's graduation in 2003, advising the graduates to devote themselves to service, which he defined as "putting others before yourself." (More)

"We must also not forget that we all have a national responsibility. Democracy is a form of government that thrives only by the interest and the actions of its citizens," Mueller said, citing Jefferson's appeal: "There is a debt of service due from every man to his country, proportioned to the bounties which nature and fortune have measured him."

Mueller was born in New York City and grew up outside of Philadelphia. He graduated from Princeton University in 1966 and went on to earn a master's degree in international relations from New York University in 1967.

Following his time at NYU, Mueller joined the U.S. Marine Corps and served as an officer for three years, leading a rifle platoon of the Third Marine Division in Vietnam. For his service in the Marines, he received the Bronze Star, two Navy Commendation Medals, the Purple Heart and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.

After his military service, Mueller enrolled at UVA Law, where he served on the Virginia Law Review and earned his law degree in 1973.

Mueller worked as a litigator in San Francisco until 1976, when he launched a 12-year career in U.S. attorney's offices, first in the Northern District of California in San Francisco, where he eventually led its criminal division. In 1982, Mueller was appointed as an assistant U.S. attorney in Boston, where he investigated and prosecuted cases involving financial fraud, terrorism, public corruption, narcotics conspiracy and international money laundering.

After a stint in private practice as a partner at the Boston law firm Hill and Barlow, Mueller returned to public service in 1989 as an assistant to Attorney General Richard L. Thornburgh in the Department of Justice. A year later, Mueller took charge of the the Justice Department's criminal division.

Mueller became a partner at the Boston law firm Hale and Dorr in 1993, where he specialized in white-collar crime litigation.

In 1995, Mueller joined the District of Columbia U.S. Attorney's Office as senior litigator in the homicide section. In 1998, he was appointed as a U.S. attorney in San Francisco, a position he held until 2001.

Mueller and his wife, Ann, have two daughters.

Mueller will give a talk at the Law School on April 12 at 10 a.m. in Caplin Pavilion.

The Thomas Jefferson Foundation awards are conferred during the University's Founder's Day celebrations, held around Jefferson's April 13 birthday. In addition to receiving a medal struck for the occasion, recipients attend ceremonies in the Rotunda and a dinner at Monticello.

This year's recipient of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Architecture is Laurie Olin, a distinguished professor, author and renowned landscape architect whose designs include the Washington Monument Grounds in Washington, D.C., and Bryant Park in New York City.

Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach For America, which has inspired more than 38,000 top recent college graduates and young professionals to join the movement to ensure educational opportunity for all, will receive the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Citizen Leadership.