Robert Mueller became the sixth Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in 2001, just one week before the terrorist attacks of September 11. He stepped down in 2013, concluding a 12-year term that made him the longest-serving Director of the FBI since J. Edgar Hoover. During his tenure, Mueller oversaw 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. In 2017, Mueller was again thrust back into the national spotlight after being appointed Special Counsel by the U.S. Deputy Attorney General to oversee the investigation of Russian government efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. Distinctly apolitical, during his more than 37 years in the public sector, Mueller served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) in three different offices; the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California; and the Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department of Justice's (DOJ) Criminal Division. While in those positions, he investigated and prosecuted several major financial frauds, narcotics conspiracies, racketeering cases, terrorist cases, tax matters, and public corruption cases. Prior to that, he was a U.S. Marine Corps officer. For his service in the military, Mueller was awarded the Bronze Star, two Navy Commendation Medals, the Purple Heart, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.
Following in his father's footsteps, Mueller enrolled at Princeton University in 1962. The Ivy League school would be the locus of a major life decision for him. At Princeton, Mueller played hockey and lacrosse. He was also a member of the Cottage Club. He wrote his senior thesis on African territorial disputes before the International Court of Justice. His post-graduation plan was to teach for a year and then go to medical school. After a Princeton alumnus from the Class of 1965 died in Vietnam, Mueller was motivated to enlist in the Marines. In 1966 he graduated from Princeton with a Bachelor of Arts degree in politics.
Since leaving collegiate life, Mueller's profound influence on the world stage has not gone unnoticed by his alma mater. In 2011 his activities won him "Tiger of the Week" honors, as given by the Princeton Alumni Weekly. The University magazine specifically noted Mueller's role in safeguarding the nation against terrorism. Two years later Mueller received another nod of appreciation from his alma mater after it was announced that he would be the 2012 recipient of the Woodrow Wilson Award. During a question-and-answer session on campus, Mueller reflected upon the core values of leadership, humility, and service learned during his time as an undergraduate student. The award is the highest honor given to an undergraduate alumnus whose achievements exemplify Woodrow Wilson's memorable phrase "Princeton in the nation's service." Few people exemplify this more than the war hero-turned-litigator, Robert Mueller.