After playing baseball at USC and earning degrees at USC and UC Berkeley in addition to a professional baseball career in the Dodgers organization and completion of post-doctoral work at Princeton, Dr. Ken Walker was hired at Cal Poly as an assistant professor in philosophy in 1973 and worked for 44 years with the Mustangs before retiring in June 2017.
He served as Cal Poly’s Faculty Athletic Representative during two terms between 1979 and 2017 and was named Professor of the Year in 1980.
Dr. Walker was interim director of athletics in 1985 to “help clean up several scandals that were looming within a program struggling with rules violations and mismanagement,” wrote Don Oberhelman in his nomination. He assumed the position full time the following year, overseeing a number of important coaching hires and leading the charge to bringing Cal Poly into Division I through the 1991 referendum that at the time drew the largest turnout for any vote in the CSU system.
“His good work has gone mostly unheralded as he quietly put the health of the department first, made the political connections to achieve the goals of the department, corrected the errors of the past and has never taken credit for anything while shunning the spotlight,” said Oberhelman. He initiated and managed two successful referenda in support of Cal Poly Athletics, a scholarship referendum in 1986 and the Division I Referendum in 1991, and organized Athletics Department student-athlete support for the Cal Poly Recreation Center in 1990.
A graduate of Westchester High School in Los Angeles, where he competed in baseball, football and track, Dr. Walker played on USC’s 1963 national championship baseball team and played two seasons in the minor leagues for the Los Angeles Dodgers organization.
Dr. Walker and his wife Janet have three children, Brenton, Sarah and Emily.