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Liberal Arts and Sciences takes home Academic Bowl trophy

The cerebral competition, which has colleges going head-to-head for scholarship prizes, is new and improved this year


group of students posing with trophy
November 10, 2016

You’ve got 10 seconds: Who was the first female vice presidential candidate of a major national party who ran alongside Walter Mondale in 1984?

If you can’t answer Geraldine Ferraro, then you’re not ready for the bright lights and big podiums of the Arizona State University Academic Bowl, which crowned its 11th champion this week.

Four teams representing the W. P. Carey School of Business, the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) battled it out for the top spot on the final day of double-elimination competition, with CLAS ultimately going undefeated to claim a second-straight Academic Bowl title and a $24,000 scholarship to be split among the winning team.

“When I came here, it was kind of my responsibility to bring CLAS back. CLAS had gone through some dark times [and] failed to make an [Academic] Bowl final, [which was] almost unheard of,” said senior team captain Raymie Humbert following the college’s seventh victory in the 11-year history of the competition. “We placed second my first year there, now two-straight titles, and we’ve really changed the course.”

The Academic Bowl pits four-person teams facing off head-to-head, attempting to answer the most questions in 15-minute rounds and racing to buzz in before their opponents. A correct answer leads to a three-part bonus question where team members can confer before answering.

“The tournament is really tough and fierce. Being a former coach, I know what goes into this competition,” said ASU special events coordinator Dan Turbyfill. “There is a lot of stress that goes along with answering these questions. It’s like an athletic event for the mind.”

This year, the Academic Bowl saw some new and improved changes — including a brand new set design.

The previous set, made for the inaugural edition of the university’s biggest academic competition, had a “Family Feud”-like design where two teams of contestants answered questions seated behind desks with simple name placards. Now the set has a state-of-the-art gaming system with a “Jeopardy!” look and “Wheel of Fortune”-styled color palate.

Academic Bowl game set

The new Academic Bowl set featured a state-of-the-art gaming system.

The finals, which are broadcast, were formerly held downtown at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. This year, a studio format was built at the Memorial Union on the Tempe campus so the event could be accessible to more people.

Melissa Werner, director of university ceremonies, orchestrated the move, along with the modern set design.

“When you see it on film, it has a nice, exciting pop to it,” Werner said. “Because [the students] are doing this and they’re putting themselves out there to compete, we really wanted to give it a really exciting look.”

Werner said the university aims to be an institution that other schools can look to when it comes to the Academic Bowl production: “We’d like to make sure we’re on the cutting edge.”

“I remember in the beginning only having Velcro and tape for signs, so this obviously is a lot different, and we’ve seen a lot of set designs over the years,” Turbyfill said. “Today, we have this beautiful set, and the LED lighting, and the flat screens, and the technology we have along with all the other things we have at our disposal — it’s grown both in question variety and set design.”

The finals of the Academic Bowl will be aired on Arizona PBS in December, date and time TBD.

Written by David Tate with additional reporting by Brandon Chiz.

Top photo: The CLAS Maroon team receives their trophy from Stefanie Lindquist, deputy provost and vice president of academic affairs, after winning the 2016 Academic Bowl championships. Lindquist served as the moderator for the final night. From left to right: seniors Connor Vuong, Michelle Stephens, Michal Galivob, Colllin Stevens, Raymie Humbert, team captain and Lindquist. Photo by Anya Magnuson/ASU Now

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