A professor of English at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology will be in the national spotlight this week. Julia Williams will take part in the inaugural Jeopardy! Professors Tournament, in which 15 instructors from colleges and universities throughout the country will compete for a $100,000 grand prize and a spot on the show’s Tournament of Champions. Williams, who says she has tried to quality for the show for the last 10 years, will appear on the show Thursday.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Williams said she is happy the show decided to do something special for professors.
“I think Jeopardy! has been very much a part of the lives of lots and lots of people. New arrivals in our country, they learn English often through Jeopardy! Kids watch it with their parents or grandparents to learn about science and geography and presidents,” said Williams. “So, I think the fact that they were willing to create this new tournament event for professors just shows how much Jeopardy! appreciates and values education and wants to promote education inside the United States.”
While she can’t give specifics about her performance that will air on Thursday, she says the experience was surreal, exciting and terrifying all together.
“The lights are very bright. You have to time hitting your buzzer and know it’s time for you to answer and get the right answer. It’s a lot of things that kind of happen all of the same time and so I’m interested in watching it to see, okay I remember it this way, so what actually happened?”
Williams says she wasn’t allowed to tell anyone what she was doing when she went to California to tape the show. But since the taping, she has seen a lot of excitement from her colleagues and students.
She says the variety of competitors is also important to the tournament.
“[There are] different professors, different disciplines from different areas of the country, different institution types,” she said. “It’s just a beautiful representation of the variety of educational opportunities in the U.S.”
On Thursday’s show Williams will compete with Ramon Guerra, an associate professor of English, literature and Latino studies at the University of Nebraka-Omaha, and Ed Hashima, a professor of history at American River College in California.
“I hope everybody will watch it,” said Williams. “It’s really exciting to see professors out of their classroom or out of their research lab and into a Hollywood studio. There was a lot of makeup, a lot of hair styling, which we’re not quite used to, but once we got up there to play the game, we had a really good time.”
Rose-Hulman says the daily champions from throughout this week, along with four wild-card non-winners, will advance to the semifinal round of the tournament.