tv Commencement Speeches FBI Director Robert Mueller College of William ... CSPAN May 31, 2019 1:06am-1:33am EDT
[applause] i have to say at the outset that there are two disadvantages to being chancellor of the college. one is that i get to march in behind a seven foot tall rector. [laughter] the other, is the regalia. which i have described as unique blending of academic, medieval academic tradition and lady gaga. [laughter] [applause] >> as someone who has served as the university president, i know one -- i know very well the stresses and demands of the
position. so take it from me that we are fortunate that your president took the job five years ago under difficult circumstances and agreed to re-enlist last year. [cheers and applause] >> to the class of 2013, having passed the last exam, turned in the last paper, and paid the last parking ticket -- [laughter] sec. gates: you have now survived one of the most rigorous educational experiences in the world. [applause] sec. gates: in doing so, you've had the experience not only of a first-rate academic education, but the very special opportunity to be part of an institution rooted in the earliest history and fundamental governing principles of the united states. indeed, it is impossible to be a student here and not feel the weight of the history.
i did walking the grounds more than 50 years ago. i hope that you, as i did then, also feel the weight of the responsibility, as well. as a graduate of one of the world's premier colleges and universities, and as a citizen of this country, there's probably no greater living example of this principle and its associated virtues, burdens, and rewards than the man we honor and hear from next, robert mueller. now i choose my words carefully. it is never a good thing to get on the wrong side of the fbi director. [laughter] sec. gates: legend has it that jay edgar hoover had a rule that all fbi memorandum must have large margins to allow room for notations. after reading the document, he wrote "watch the borders." he later learned his
subordinates sent several agents to the direction of mexico and canada when he had simply been referring to the margins. bob's staff would not be intimidated into not asking for clarification. i have known and worked with bob mueller for more than a decade. i was at texas a&m when in the wake of the september 11 attacked, he reached out to find more effective ways to conduct investigations while respecting privacy and principles of academic freedom. under president obama, we shared the experience of being holdovers from the previous administration that kept being asked to stay on, on, and on, and on some more. ler's life hass willingness time and again to a constant theme of bob mueller's life has been his willingness to forgo comfortable and lucrative avenues in order to serve his country. as a graduate of princeton, nyu, and the university of virginia,
bob did something quite unusual for privileged young men and to forf our generation, military service at the height of the vietnam war. to sign up for the marine corps and lead a platoon in combat took uncommon courage and patriotism. to be a united states marine with a name like robert swan mueller iii took toughness too. it is telling that after two successful decades as a lawyer, bob gave up a partnership and a -- at a blue-chip law firm to work in the criminal division of the u.s. attorneys office in washington, d.c. in addition to absorbing what had to be a massive pay cut, bob also agreed to a position with considerably less rank, power, and prestige from the one he held in the justice department a few years earlier. at the time, too many young men were dying and being killed in the streets of the nation's capitol.
bob mueller was determined to do something about it. then, as we know after a few days on the job as fbi director, bob was confronted with the horror of 9/11. i know from experience how hard it is to reorient the mission and transform the culture of large-crowd, historically-successful institutions. e would have predicted that america would go more than a on september 12, 2001, no one would have predicted america would go more than a decade without another major terrorist attack. it is enormous credit to bob mueller, and the men and women he leads at the fbi. director mueller's life has been one of truly splendid service. william and mary's is honored to have him as a 2013 commencement speaker. ladies and gentlemen, the honorable robert mueller. [applause] [applause]
director mueller: well, thank you for that very kind introduction, lady gaga. he had not heard the last of that. it's a pleasure for me to be here and be given the opportunity to recruit for the f.b.i. will i say it is a tremendous honor to join the graduates today as they move on in their lives. and as i look out at you, i am reminded of my youngest daughter's graduation from college, a number of years ago. comedian bill cosby delivered the commencement address, and he opined that a commencement was
as much for the parents as for the graduates for today parents are not only filled with pride, but with a newfound sense of freedom. [applause] cosby went on to joke that as he drove home from his own daughter's commencement, with his daughter following in her car, one thought kept running through his mind. why are you still here coming back to my house? and as college graduates cosby said you have hopes and dreams, and as parents we, too, have hopes and dreams. and that part about moving home, not always part of our dream. but as i reflect upon where i have come since, i, myself, graduated. i will say that i never would have expected to end up where i have.
and i consider myself most fortunate to have been given the opportunities i have had over the past 30 years, both personally and professionally. i have been blessed with three families. my family, my wife and our two daughters, my marine corps family, and the past 11 years, my f.b.i. family. from each of these families i have learned a number of life lessons. one such lesson is that much of what you do impacts those around you and in turn those around you shape your life in a number of ways. today i want to touch on three lessons learned through these relationships, and these lessons for relate first to integrity, second to service, and third as to patience as well as its coral larry humility. perhaps my experiences and in some cases my mistakes will strike a chord with you. i begin with integrity because it is so essential to who and what you ultimately will become.
many of you have a career path in mind, many of you have no idea where you will end up. a few of you may be surprised by where life takes you. i certainly was. and in the end, it is not only what we do but how we do it. regardless of your chosen career, are you only as good as your word. it can be smart, aggressive, articulate, and persuasive. but if you are not honest, your reputation will suffer and once lost a good reputation can never be regained. as the saying goes, if you have integrity, nothing else matters. and if you don't have integrity, nothing else matters. the f.b.i.'s motto is, fidelity, bravery, and integrity, and for
the men and women of the bureau, uncompromising integrity both personal and institutional is the core value. that same integrity is a hallmark of this institution. william and mary was the first college in the country to have a student-run honor system. that honor system and community of trust it enables rests on one precept and that precept is, integrity. in your professional and personal success will rest on that same precept. there will come a time when you will be tested. you may find yourself standing alone against those you thought were trusted colleagues. you may stand to lose what you have worked for. and the decision will not be an easy call. but surely william and mary has prepared you for just such a test.
indeed, your own thomas jefferson believed that william and mary was the finest school of manners and morals that ever existed in america. as graduates, as graduates you are charged with upholding this legacy of honesty and integrity. today you become the standard-bearers. turning to the importance of public service, or service over self, i can say that i did not really choose public service, rather i more or less fell into it early on, perhaps not fully appreciating the challenges of such service. one can come to understand the importance of service over self in a myriad of ways through volunteerism, through commitment to a particular cause, or perhaps by example. as an undergraduate i had one of
the finest role models i could have asked for in an upper classman by the name of david hackett. he was on our 1965 lacrosse team. he was not necessarily the best on the team, but he was a determined and a natural leader. he graduated later that spring and a year later as we were graduating, we saw princeton face the decision of how to respond to the war in vietnam. we knew that david was in vietnam serving as a platoon commander in the marine corps. and the spring of 1967 he volunteered for a second tour of duty, but on april 29 as he led his men against a north vietnamese army contingent, david was killed by a sniper's bullet just south of the d.m.z. one would have thought that the life of a marine and david's death in vietnam would argue strongly against following in his footsteps, but many of us saw in him the person we wanted
to be. he was a leader and a role model on the fields of princeton. he was a leader and a role model on the fields of battle as well. and a number of his friends and teammates joined the marine corps because of him, as did i. i do consider myself fortunate to have survived that tour in vietnam. there were many men, such as david hackett, who did not. and perhaps because of that i have always felt compelled to try to give back in some way. and i have, indeed, been lucky to spend the better part of my professional life in public service and to benefit from the intangible rewards that come from such service. the lessons i learned as a marine have stayed with me for more than 40 years. value of teamwork, sacrifice, discipline, life lessons i could not have learned in quite the
same way elsewhere. and when i do look back on my career, i think of having the opportunity to participate in major investigations such as pan am 103. work with homicide detectives shoulder to shoulder in washington, d.c. and to be able to work with one of the finest institutions in the world for the last 11 years, the f.b.i. i will say that these opportunities would have been difficult to replicate in the private sector, and as for me i can say it has been time well spent. since its earliest days the college of william and mary has emphasized service over self. your fell alumni have served as the nation's highest political officers, attorneys, judges, teachers, doctors, and civic and military leaders. the way in which you choose to serve does not really matter. only that you work to better your country and your community. each of you must determine in what way you can best serve
others. a way that will leave you believing that your time has been time well spent. turning to the lessons on patience. writer barbara johnson once defined patience as the ability to idle your motor when you feel like stripping your gears. and for those of us who are not inherently patients, including myself, it is an acquired trait. believe me, it is hard earned. and people will say i am still learning. it's also fair to say that true patience is required at precisely the moment you least have time for it. patience includes the ability to listen, really listen to others
and especially to listen to host close to you. this is not always particularly easy. one of my first positions with the department of justice more than 30 years ago, i found myself head of the criminal division in the u.s. attorney's office in boston. i soon realized that lawyers would come to my office for one of two reasons. either to see or be seen on the one hand, or to obtain a decision on some aspect of their work on the other hand. and i quickly fell into the habit of asking the same question whenever someone appeared at my door. and that question was, what is the issue? a word of advice, this question is not con -- conducive to married life. one evening i came home to my wife who had had a long day teaching, and then coping with
our two young daughters. she began to describe her day to me, and after a few moments i interrupted and rather asked, what is the issue? and the response, as i should have anticipated, was immediate. i am your wife, she said. i am not one of your attorneys. do not ever ask me, what is the issue. you will sit there and you will listen until i am finished. it's a story for mother's day. but that night i did learn the importance of listening to those around you, truly listening before making judgment, before taking action. i'd also learned to use that question sparingly and never, ever with my wife. humility, humility is a closely related trait, closely related
to patience. there are those who are naturally humble, but for others humility may come from life experience. it is a result of facing challenges, making mistakes, and overcoming obstacles. i would like to close with a story about one of your own. lee, an adjunct professor here at william and mary for more than 18 years. he taught a seminar entitled congress, the executive, and public policy. focused on the time he had spent on the hill. lee was naturally humble. he was always the smartest person in the room.
and the last one who would ever taunt it. lee and i were college classmates and served together in a previous administration and when i became director of the f.b.i., i asked him to join me as a close advisor and remarkably, remarkably he agreed. lee knew how to cut through the nonsense and get to the heart of the matter. better than anyone i have ever known. he also knew how to put me in my place. during one particularly heated meeting, everyone was frustrated. mostly with me, and i confess i, myself, may well have been wee bit impatient and ill-tempered. lee sat silently for a few moments, and then posed the following question out of the blue. what is the difference between the director of the f.b.i. and a 4-year-old child? and the room grew hushed and finally he said. height. and on those days when we were under attack by the news media being clobbered by congress, and
when the attorney general was not at all happy with me, i would walk down to lee's office hoping for a sympathetic ear, and i would ask how are we doing? lee would shake his head and say, you're toast, you are dead meat. you're history. but he would continue and say don't take yourself too seriously because no one else around here does. it was that innate sense of humility, the idea that the world does not resolve around you. that was central to lee's character. he never sought to elevate his own status. to the contrary he sought to elevate those around him, the hallmark of a truly humble. as you grow older, you will begin to understand that one's life is a combination of experiences and teachings of those who become your mentors. lee was a mentor to me and i'm a better person for having the opportunity to be tutored by him. he passed away two years ago and
is greatly missed by family, friends, and colleagues. his was a life of humility. a life of service, a model for many others. for you as well as for myself. i encourage each of you to surround yourselves with such mentors over the coming years. individuals who will make you smarter and better. those who will recognize your potential and challenge you in new ways. one day, wittingly or unwittingly, you will serve as a mentor to someone in your life. i ask you to remember patience and humility, both are hard to o come by and each will serve you well. the lessons i speak of today are lessons not only for you, but
for all of us. we must all find ways to contribute to something bigger than ourselves. we must cultivate patience each day. we must maintain a sense of humility. most importantly, we must never, ever sacrifice our integrity. if we do each of these things, we will have the best opportunity to be successful personally and professionally and our time will have been time well spent. thank you for inviting me to celebrate with you today. god bless each and everyone of you throughout your careers. [applause]
eastern, speakers include supreme court justice -- t manhattan college in the bronx. usiness woman and philanthropist mccain delivers a back to nd we'll look ormer first lady barbara bush speaking at wellesley college. any time at at -span.org and listen on the app. c-span radio >> the house will be in order. c-span has been providing america with unfiltered coverage of the white house, the supreme court and policy events from washington, d.c. and around the country so you can make up your own mind. created by cable in 1979, c-span your local o you by cable or satellite provider.
unfiltered view of government. >> before departing for colorado the president spoke to white commented onrs and are on the mueller's statement from wednesday. china, the ussed and british politics. president trump: we just had turkey released a prisoner that we were trying to released him a little while ago into home released d he'll be from home custody to the united just pretty soon and i erdogan.thank president they released the prisoner, hostage, whatever you want to him. he's in home custody in turkey. he'll be released fairly soon. that's good news. i guess probably