AMHERST, Mass. – University of Massachusetts Amherst English professor and associate dean Joseph Bartolomeo will appear Jan. 5 as a contestant on the long-running trivia game show “Jeopardy!”
Bartolomeo, whose principal research interest is 18th-century British literature, has been a trivia buff all his life, competing in school and local competitions. Blessed with a good memory, Bartolomeo enjoys reading in many areas, and says that (until recently) he’s been interested in popular culture. In 2000, he was selected to be a contestant on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” but never made it past the “Fastest Finger” round to the “hot seat.”
“Jeopardy!” has remained an item on Bartolomeo’s bucket list, one that he never thought he’d get to check off until now. As a child, he started watching the show with his mother, and has been a viewer ever since. In early 2016, Bartolomeo made it past the first qualifying round: the online test. From the pool of 70,000 or so online test takers, about 3,000 are selected for auditions (Bartolomeo’s was in New York in June). From this group, 400 people per year are invited to appear as contestants on the show.
In late September, Bartolomeo traveled to California to tape his appearance. “After years of watching ‘Jeopardy!,’ appearing on the show was even better than I expected,” he said. He went on to say that “the production staff was good-humored and supportive, the other contestants friendly and engaging, and Alex Trebek a consummate professional,” but would not reveal details about his performance. For that, viewers will need to tune in on Jan. 5. The program airs locally at 7:30 p.m. on WWLP-TV 22.
After earning his Ph.D. from Harvard, Bartolomeo joined the UMass Amherst English faculty in 1986 and has since been deeply involved in many levels of university administration. From 2007-13, he served as chair of the department of English. He also served as chair of the rules committee of the Faculty Senate from 2010-13, and from 2003-13 as the faculty representative to the UMass Amherst Foundation Board. In 2013, he was appointed associate dean for operations and programs for the College of Humanities and Fine Arts.