Anderson, Indiana

White House taps AU alum Pistole to lead TSA

Tue, 2010-05-18 15:04 -- univcomm
May 18, 2010

On Monday, May 17, President Barack Obama announced his intention to nominate Anderson native and Anderson University alum John S. Pistole to lead the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Pistole is a 1978 Anderson University graduate and earned an advanced degree in law from Indiana University School of Law - Indianapolis.  In 2006, Anderson University awarded John Pistole with an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree during commencement ceremonies.  In addition, the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) named Pistole as an outstanding alumni in October of 2004 during Christian Higher Education Month.

pistolePistole, 53, has currently served as deputy director of the FBI since October 2004 and Obama's third pick, following Erroll Southers (who withdrew in January) and retired Maj. Gen. Robert Harding (who withdrew in March). Pistole's FBI experience also includes serving as a field supervisor of a white-collar crime and civil rights squad in Indianapolis. He became an FBI agent in 1983 after practicing law for two years.

"The talent and knowledge John has acquired in more than two decades of service with the FBI will make him a valuable asset to our administration's efforts to strengthen the security and screening measures at our airports," Obama said in a statement. "I am grateful that he has agreed to take on this important role, and I look forward to working with him in the weeks and months ahead."

Obama has struggled to fill the top job at TSA. The Obama administration has called the job the most important unfilled position on the president's team, but it has been vacant since Obama took office.

As FBI deputy director, Pistole oversaw operational and investigative matters. Before that, he had been executive assistant director for counterterrorism and counterintelligence.

In 1999, Pistole helped lead the investigative and recovery efforts for the Egypt Air Flight 990 crash off the coast of Rhode Island. In March 2005, the FBI honored Mr. Pistole with the 2005 Presidential Rank of Distinguished Executive. In 2007, he won a Justice Department award for professionalism and integrity.

Pistole's nomination won praise Monday from some lawmakers on Capitol Hill, including Maine Sen. Susan Collins, the top Republican on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. In a statement, Collins said she was pleased the president had chosen a nominee with "strong law enforcement experience."

During his sophomore year at Anderson University Pistole began to recognize public service as a calling. His father, Dr. Hollis Pistole BA ’45, then a professor at Anderson’s School of Theology, had modeled a more traditional calling – first as a pastor, then as a teacher/mentor to would-be pastors. Likewise his mother, Elizabeth BS ’43, a teacher at Anderson High School, had set an example of investing one’s life in serving others.

"My parents stressed the value of integrity and hard work, responsibility and being accountable – and treating others fairly," recalls Pistole.

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Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,700 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2009, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the sixth consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing and theology.