“I’m humbled,” said AU President John Pistole. “I’m honored to be part of this.”
Recently, Pistole received IU McKinney School of Law’s Bicentennial Medal of “Distinguished and Distinctive Service.” The medal honored IU alumni who are viewed as “models for future students, faculty, alumni and organizations.”
Upon graduating from AU in 1978, Pistole attended IU McKinney School of Law and graduated in the spring of 1981. Pistole remembers his experience fondly.
“I learned new critical thinking skills and ways that I could approach not only the practice of law, but eventually other work which I got into with government,” said Pistole.
During law school, Pistole clerked for a law firm in Anderson. Although he enjoyed parts of the job, Pistole explained that he began to look toward the future.
“I thought, ‘No, I don’t want to do this for the rest of my life,’” said Pistole. “I felt like God was calling me to something else.”
It didn’t take long for Pistole to set his sights on a career with the FBI, and he began the application process.
“I felt like God was opening doors while also giving me discernment,” said Pistole.
Pistole spent nearly 27 years with the FBI and explained that he was “blessed with the opportunity to work with great people and do fascinating, challenging work.”
“I felt like I was helping people who have been victims of crime or who had whatever their situation had been,” said Pistole, “ranging from young teenage runaways in Minneapolis who were escaping abusive homes and being prostituted and helping them get out of that business, to helping victims of organized crime in New York City who had been victimized by the mafia and working on the joint organized crime task force.”
Following the attacks of 9/11, Pistole worked in different areas of counterterrorism and counterintelligence. After rising through the ranks, he was appointed deputy director of the FBI in 2004.
“There were so many positive experiences and very few negative experiences—a lot of challenges, but it was just really good, satisfying work,” said Pistole.
After working for the FBI, Pistole was nominated by President Obama for the role of administrator of the TSA. He was confirmed unanimously by the U.S. Senate.
“It was a large workforce—over 60,000 employees working at 450 airports and a couple dozen offices around the world,” said Pistole. “I had a huge learning curve—dealing with a very different workforce than I was familiar with at the FBI.”
During his four-and-a-half years with the TSA, Pistole implemented 25 policy changes.
“TSA PreCheck is the best-known,” said Pistole. “Millions of people travel through TSA PreCheck every year, and that’s a good risk-based, intelligence-driven approach to try to keep terrorists off planes while facilitating the best movement of people and goods.”
Pistole remains the longest-serving administrator in TSA history. However, Pistole’s career didn’t end there. In 2015, Pistole became president of his alma mater—AU.
“It’s an honor and privilege to serve as president of AU,” said Pistole. “Go Ravens.”