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Down Undercover

Schultz’ 22-year FBI career ended in Australia, where he lives in retirement

Thomas Schultz

Thomas Schultz, bba '87, jd '92, traveled by helicopter to meet with Alaska Native leaders as part of the 2015 Arctic Nations Security Conference in 2015. Photo submitted

From The Ichabod - Winter 2023 
By Angela Lutz

When Thomas Schultz, bba ’87, jd ’92, walked across the stage to get his degree at Washburn University School of Law, he never could have predicted where life would take him. After working as an assistant district attorney in Kansas, he fulfilled his dream of becoming an FBI agent and had an exciting 22-year career as an investigator all around the world.

“I was working in Papua New Guinea, and I had one of those surreal moments: Would I have ever thought I’d be in the middle of the jungle sitting on a stump talking to a tribal elder investigating a crime?” Schultz said. “I never would have anticipated what the next steps would have looked like – the opportunities and the challenges and the places it would bring me.”

Schultz was born in Hutchinson, Kansas, and grew up near Quantico, Virginia, where the FBI training facility is located. Working as a federal investigator was always at the back of his mind. As a young person, he had a slow start as a student until he moved back to Hutchinson to be near his grandparents who were struggling with health issues. His grandfather introduced him to Washburn, and when Schultz decided to study accounting, he finally found his academic footing.

“I loved that it taught you how to think – there’s a strategy involved, and there’s a logical flow of information,” Schultz said. “To understand business and government you need to understand the financial aspect of it. It was tremendously useful to me – those skills are constantly relied upon to this day.”

Schultz went on to law school because he craved the challenge, and he enjoyed the mentorship of professors and the camaraderie of his classmates and colleagues. He recalls knowing he was in the right place on his first day of class. His legal education also helped prepare him to think logically and solve problems and mysteries in the FBI.

“With its own language and logic, studying the law is certainly key to understanding why things function as they do and what the outcome will be,” he said. “When there is a conflict or problem, it helps with developing a plan most likely to succeed, both in the short and long term.”

Thomas SchultzAlways gravitating toward his next adventure, Schultz was a natural fit for an FBI career. He started working on public corruption and white-collar crimes, which utilized his accounting background. He then investigated congressional spending before shifting his focus to international counterterrorism, which brought global assignments in Europe and Asia. He also provided on-the-ground support following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005, leading to some of the most challenging times of his career.

“You go into this type of work because you want to help people and make your community and your family safer,” Schultz said. “It’s chasing a mystery too – that’s really satisfying as well, being able to put the pieces together. Combining those elements – I really found it fascinating. There was never a boring day at all.”

Ultimately Schultz’s FBI career took him to Australia – and when the opportunity arose, he and his family decided they wanted to stay there. Now retired from the bureau, Schultz works in consulting, primarily focusing on governance, risk and compliance, investigations and business intelligence. An unexpected bonus has been connecting with fellow School of Law and School of Business alumna Lori Callahan, bba ’80, jd ’83, who recently retired Down Under after a successful legal career. She is proud to call Schultz a friend, and she admires his intelligence and values his presence as a fellow Ichabod in a foreign country.

“Tom and I are both Kansans – before we were Ichabods,” Callahan said. “What that means is shared values, perspective and history when those around you have a different background. He is also obviously resilient, having been in dangerous and scary professional situations and emerging with his delightful attitude toward life.”

Despite living more than 9,000 miles from Topeka, Schultz retains a strong affinity for the city and Washburn. He is especially grateful for the professional opportunities he gained at Washburn and early in his career in the Kansas Department of Revenue and Kansas Insurance Department, which planted the seed for his compelling, rewarding and delightfully unpredictable career.

“Being in the capital city and its business community provides students with an incredible opportunity. Whether you’re talking internships or other jobs, they become the building blocks of their later professional careers,” Schultz said. “As a student, I had access to meaningful job experience and professional connections. Topeka is a great place for Washburn to be.”

Winter 2024 The Ichabod magazine cover with picture of the bell tower and snow fallen on campus

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