Ken Calwell visits Washburn, shares experiences after life at WU

Farai Harreld Washburn Review

Thanks to the Stauffer organization, Washburn welcomes back Ken Calwell, Washburn alumni, self-proclaimed Hawaiian pizza lover, father, husband and CEO of Papa Murphy’s – the world’s largest “take ‘n’ bake” pizza company.

Every year, the Stauffer organization continues the tradition of bringing back Washburn alumni and business executives to Topeka so they can share their knowledge and life experiences. Honorees demonstrate exemplary leadership as chairman of the board, chief executive officer, or president of a major corporation.

Calwell will get the chance to interact and show students what life after school and a degree can hold for them.  This year, Calwell is to be honored as the 10th Oscar S. Stauffer Executive in Residence here at Washburn, and will be available for two sessions Wednesday March 27th to discuss several topics, as well as talk to students and answer questions.

“[This is a] great opportunity to enrich the learning experience of students and to see that  there is life after finals and exams,” said President Jerry Farley.

There might also be free pizza involved.

Mr. Calwell graduated from Washburn University where he earned his bachelor  of business administration. He also has several other achievements such as being the 2011 Kansan of the year and also being an Olympic torch carrier in 2002.  He is humble in his achievements and states the most important things to him are his family and loved ones.  Mr. Calwell discussed the importance of exploring ones abilities and gifts and then focusing on what is important by prioritizing. He also discussed the importance of community service and participating in other events in the community.

As for being a Marketing executive, Calwell said: “You have got to love people and you have to be curious about people.”

When hiring, Calwell states that he is looking for people who are comfortable in the real world, who get involved and are not afraid to get their hands dirty. 

Calwell started mowing lawns at the age of 12 and paid his way through school using his landscaping business. He even mowed lawns on campus to pay his tuition.  Though he calls himself ‘an uncoordinated athlete’, Mr. Calwell was part of an intramural group that participated in several different sports, such as soccer and swimming, and he also competed in several triathlons and ran regularly around campus. He also enjoyed barn parties and just being involved in the community.

On returning to Washburn, Calwell stated that he was amazed at the change that he has seen at Washburn since the last time he was here.  He mentioned the very apparent growth and advances of Washburn and how he has always appreciated the small classroom sizes and the opportunity to get to know the professors and students on a personal level.

“I got the chance to know some amazing people who were students and I learnt as much from them as I learnt from the professors,” said Calwell.