Ken Jennings’ arrival excites IUS


Photo provided by the Sanders Speaker Series.

Thomas Kalonji, Staff Reporter

He used to find the answer to the question behind the screen, but now ‘Jeopardy!’ champ Ken Jennings is coming to IUS to tell students and staff what was happening behind the scenes.

And his arrival is causing a buzz around campus. 

“There has been a tremendous response to the publicity surrounding this event, and I believe nearly 700 people have registered for tickets,” said Kirk Randolph, director of the Paul W. Ogle Cultural and Community Center.

The famous game, where the jeopardy of losing your winnings remains until the last minute, features three contestants competing to find the question that matches the answers given by the show’s host. 

Jennings is a trivia genius who holds the record for the longest winning streak at ‘Jeopardy!’ (74 games) and the highest regular-season earnings ($2,520,700).

IUS’ School of Business, including its dean, David Eplion, is excited about Jennings’ visit. 

“We are looking forward to hearing him tell how he parlayed his love of trivia as a child into becoming the most successful ‘Jeopardy!’ player of all time,” Eplion said.

Jennings found it important to be an information generalist in the workplace, and he tested his ‘Jeopardy!’ skills with IBM’s Watson supercomputer, according to Eplion.

“He will share lots of behind-the-scenes stories from his time on ‘Jeopardy!’ and will discuss the friendship he built with the late Alex Trebek,” Elpion said.  

Listening to Jennings will be a fantastic way to discover other unknown facets of his personality, he added.

“Many people don’t realize that Ken is also a best-selling author,” Elpion said. “He will discuss several topics from his books such as the future of artificial intelligence.” 

Administrative Secretary of the School of Business Brittany Schmidt shared the same passion for this upcoming event.

“We are very excited to host Ken Jennings this year for our annual Sanders Speaker Series,” she said. “Ken’s knowledge and experiences will make this presentation interesting for all ages to attend!”

The Sander Speaker Series was founded in 2008 by an endowment from IUS benefactors Carlton and Sue Sanders. Carlton Sanders, who died in 2016, was a former judge of Harrison County, Ind., Superior Court.

Past speakers have included CNN journalist Candy Crowley and Jerry Greenfield, co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream.

The Jennings event, on IUS’ radar since 2020, was postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak. 

“Ken Jennings was scheduled to come to campus in April 2020, and the Sanders Speaker Series was among the first events we had to cancel due to the pandemic,” said Randolph.

“To see this live event come to fruition helps me feel that we are returning to a new normal,” he said. “Returning to the Ogle Center for live, in-person events is good for the human soul.”

Like other fans, Randolph cannot wait to hear and see Jennings, who he has been watching on TV since 2004 with his parents. 

“While I am a fan of ‘Jeopardy!’ and Ken Jennings, I know that there are many other people who are excited about his on-campus appearance,” Randolph said. 

As coordinator of artistic leadership, Randolph likened the excitement for Jennings to that of Frank Oz’s showing up for the Sanders Speaker Series.

“Sometimes people travel from all around the country to see the Sanders Speakers,” he said. “For example, in 2019, Frank Oz spoke as part of the series, and people traveled from as far away as Minnesota and North Carolina to see and hear him speak about his experiences in Hollywood.” 

The event will take place Thursday from 7-8 p.m. at the Paul W. Ogle Cultural and Community Center on New Albany’s campus. 

The event is free, and you may register online at 

Contact Brittany Schmidt by email at or phone at (812) 941-2664 for more information.