By Meg Hibbert
Dr. Gary Hollis is tackling Jeopardy again. The Roanoke College chemistry professor will match wits with other champions this Friday, with in a Champions Wildcard Tournament. The program will air on WDBJ-TV at 7:30 p.m.
A watch party open to college students, faculty, staff and friends is planned at the college’s Wortman Ballroom that night just before Jeopardy comes on.
Hollis is an inveterate trivia player, known around the Roanoke Valley in trivia competition circles and other games such as chess and Pokemon Go.
In a telephone interview Tuesday, Hollis said it was mid-September when he was asked if he wanted to come back.
“I said ‘Of course I want to come back.’ ” He flew to Culver City, Calif., Nov. 5 for two days of competition with 107 other Jeopardy champions. “In the Championship Wild Card Tournament, there were four groups of 27 people. Then there are the quarter finals with three games in the semi-finals,” Hollis explained.
“Four make it to the Tournament of Champions” he added.
Hollis isn’t saying how he did. People will just have to wait until Friday night to find out. “I haven’t even told my son,” he said, “and he lives with me.”
“It was quite an honor to be asked to return,” Hollis said.
When he was on Jeopardy in 2021 for the program’s first-ever Jeopardy! Professors Tournament, he prevailed in his initial matchup against professors from Vanderbilt and Pennsylvania State universities in order to advance to the tournament’s semifinals.
“I just like playing in those quiz competitions,” Hollis said. During the Hollywood writers’ strike, there were no people to write questions he said.
He has taught chemistry at Roanoke College for 28 years, teaching organic chemistry 1 and 2, corresponding labs and a senior capstone course basic education known as Inquiry.
Friday when the program airs is the last day of classes – with exams still to come. “I will be able to end the semester with my students in a watch party,” said Hollis.
What he likes about teaching at Roanoke College, he explained, “is our college is a wonderful place to get an education. Faculty are here because they want to teach.” He added that students also get to assist professors with research, if they want.
Roanoke resident Hollis is originally from Bessemer City, N.C., and earned his undergraduate, graduate and Ph.D degrees from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.
He said he is looking forward to the watch party Friday evening because he hopes his students, members of his College Lutheran Church, his Pokemon Go and golf buddies and others with whom he matches wits in Trivia. “And the president’s office is paying for light refreshments,” he added.