Mueller, Jackson to receive top alumni awards

Alumni Awards Mueller

Robert S. Mueller III

Photo courtesy of the FBI

Robert S. Mueller III

Photo courtesy of the FBI

Alumni Awards Jackson

Lisa Jackson

Photo by Eric Vance

Lisa Jackson

Photo by Eric Vance


Princeton University will present its top honors for alumni to Robert S. Mueller III, director of the FBI, and Lisa Jackson, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Mueller, a member of the Class of 1966, will receive the Woodrow Wilson Award. Jackson, who earned a master's degree in chemical engineering in 1986, will receive the James Madison Medal. They will be presented with the awards and deliver addresses on campus during Alumni Day activities on Saturday, Feb. 25.

The Wilson Award is bestowed annually by the University upon an undergraduate alumnus or alumna whose career embodies the call to duty in Wilson's famous speech, "Princeton in the Nation's Service." A Princeton graduate, Wilson served as president of the University and also president of the United States.

The Madison Medal, established by the Association of Princeton Graduate Alumni, is named for the fourth president of the United States and the person many consider Princeton's first graduate student. It is presented each year to celebrate an alumnus or alumna of the Graduate School who has had a distinguished career, advanced the cause of graduate education or achieved an outstanding record of public service.

Wilson Award winner

Mueller is regarded as the chief driving force behind the FBI's shift from an organization primarily focused on investigating criminal activity, to a national security service that uses intelligence to address a much broader international terrorist and criminal threat landscape.

Mueller is the sixth director of the FBI, nominated by President George W. Bush. Confirmed by the U.S. Senate, he assumed directorship duties on Sept. 4, 2001, just one week prior to the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

Mueller's 10-year term concluded this summer, but the Senate — in an extraordinary gesture — unanimously extended his directorship two more years at the request of President Barack Obama.

"Robert Mueller is widely respected for his dedication, integrity and clear commitment to public service," said Christina Paxson, dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. "He is a perfect choice for this year's Woodrow Wilson Award."

Mueller graduated with a bachelor's degree in politics from Princeton in 1966, going on to receive a master's in international relations from New York University, serve three years in the Marine Corps — where he received the Purple Heart and Bronze Star Medal, among other awards, for service in Vietnam — and obtain a law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1973.

Mueller joined the U.S. Attorney's Office in San Francisco in 1978. He spent the next two decades alternating between private practice and positions of increasing responsibility within the Department of Justice, including assistant attorney general for the Criminal Division, acting deputy attorney general and the United States attorney in San Francisco.

Madison medalist

Jackson is both a scientist and a public servant whose career has focused on environmental issues. As the administrator of the EPA, her top priorities include addressing greenhouse gases — carbon monoxide and other gases produced from manufacturing processes — as a public health threat. Along with prioritizing improvements in air quality, she also is concerned with better management of the risks posed by chemicals, cleanup of hazardous waste sites and protection of America's water supply.

"Lisa has shown wonderfully strong and courageous leadership at the EPA, working hard to ensure that the EPA's evaluations and regulations are based on the highest quality science," said Emily Carter, founding director of Princeton's Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment and the Gerhard R. Andlinger Professor in Energy and the Environment. "I am particularly proud that a Princeton alumna has been the first EPA administrator to put in place regulations of greenhouse gases."

Jackson joined the EPA as a scientist in 1987 and rose through its ranks, developing special expertise in the agency's Superfund toxic and hazardous waste cleanup program, before joining the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection as assistant commissioner in 2002.

In 2006, New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine nominated Jackson to become commissioner of the department. She served the state until nominated by then-incoming President Obama, becoming the 12th administrator of the EPA in January 2009 and the first African American to serve in the position.

"Environmentalism is not just about protecting the wilderness. It's not just about saving the polar ice caps," Jackson said during a 2009 visit to campus. "It's about protecting people in the places where we live, where we work, where we raise our families. It's about making urban and suburban neighborhoods safe and clean. It's about protecting children at their schools and workers at their jobs."

Jackson received her bachelor's degree from Tulane University in 1983 before receiving her master's from Princeton.