TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology announced Monday one of its professors will be participating in the first-ever Jeopardy! tournament for college professors.
RHIT English professor Julia Williams was one of 15 professors from across the country selected to participate in the tournament, scheduled to begin airing Dec. 6. Tournament participants competed for a $100,000 grand prize and a spot in the show’s Tournament of Champions.
The professor’s tournament special, hosted by Mayim Bialik, was recorded back in October, Williams said. She added that at first she was only allowed to tell her husband and had to keep it a secret from her students.
“Turns out, they weren’t all that interested in where I was going,” Williams said. “I just told them I was going to a meeting in California and that was it.”
Williams said the upcoming Jeopardy! appearance culminates a lifetime goal for her. Over the past 10 years she has applied multiple times to be on the regular daily show without any luck. However, earlier in the year she heard from a Jeopardy producer that she’d been selected for a spot in the newly created tournament.
“I’m living a dream. I went from playing along at home to playing in the Alex Trebek Studio with the bright lights and cameras,” Williams, a member of the Rose-Hulman faculty for 28 years, said. “Having a collection of somewhat useless information from which to call upon makes me an ideal ‘Jeopardy!’ contestant.”
Williams, who has a doctorate in British Literature, has taught courses at Rose-Hulman on a variety of topics in the Department of Humanities, Social Sciences and the Arts. Those areas would include first-year composition, technical communications, introduction to poetry, the Bible as literature and literature of war and the theater of violence.
“And, I once worked as a bartender and waitress. So, I’m a natural for Jeopardy!’s Potent Potables category, if it came up,” she added. “I was really looking for categories in the game involving music, literature and Boston Red Sox baseball.”
Show rules prohibit Williams from sharing details about her Jeopardy! appearance before the tournament, however her appearance is scheduled to air Thursday, Dec. 9, when she faces Ramon Guerra, an associate professor of English, literature and Latino studies at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, and Ed Hashima, professor of history at American River College in Sacramento, Cali.
The daily champions from throughout the first week, along with four wild-card non-winners, will advance to the tournament’s semifinal round.
“It was an unbelievable thrill to see so many brilliant professors from all kinds of schools and backgrounds come together on the JEOPARDY! stage,” Bialik said in a news release announcing the Professors Tournament. “There was a sense of kinship and academic camaraderie among the group, along with a healthy dose of competitiveness. That energy made this inaugural Professors Tournament incredibly special.”