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TSA chief caught off guard by Anderson University offer

October 24, 2014

The outgoing director of the U.S. Transportation Security Administration said he was surprised when Anderson University leaders approached him about becoming the college's new president.

John Pistole announced last week he would retire from his job overseeing security operations at airports throughout the country to lead the school from which he received a bachelor's degree in 1978. The city of Anderson also is his hometown.

"It wasn't necessarily something I was thinking about. I've thoroughly enjoyed the work I've done at TSA," Pistole, who was with the FBI for 26 years, told The Herald Bulletin.

Anderson University's board of trustees is expected to confirm Pistole as president on Monday. He plans to start in March as leader of the 2,500-student private Christian school, which is affiliated with the Church of God.

Pistole, 58, said he knows he'll be going into the new job with a lot to learn, because he hasn't worked in education before. He was the FBI's deputy director when President Barack Obama nominated him to become the TSA director in 2010.

He said members of Anderson's search committee made clear they were seeking a candidate with "outside-of-the-box" qualifications. The process became a "journey of faith," Pistole said.

"I feel like my job was to be open to what I thought might be a possible calling," he said. "I see it as where God wants me to be."

Pistole would become the fifth president in the university's 98-year history and succeed James Edwards, who is stepping down after 25 years as Anderson's president.

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