Courtesy of Anna Morris
Albie, the Ohio State Honors and Scholars Center gnome, is roaming campus and rewarding students who find him.
Each Thursday, the Honors and Scholars Center Facebook page posts a cryptic photo of Albie hidden somewhere on campus, with a caption encouraging students to comment and guess where he is. One student who correctly guesses Albie’s location is randomly selected for a $5 Chipotle Mexican Grill gift card.
Money for the gift cards comes from the Honors and Scholars Center. The contest is only open to the roughly 10,000 honors and scholars students.
“We were looking for a way to get our students interacting with our Facebook,” said Anna Morris, advancement officer for the University Honors and Scholars Center. “We also wanted to have a little fun.”
The Facebook page has gotten about 250 more “likes” since the contest has started, up from about 1,500 at the beginning of Fall Semester.
“It was the first thing I’ve ever won online,” said Arif Nuri, a second-year in public affairs and Sports and Wellness scholar. Nuri correctly guessed Albie’s location at the bottom of the William Oxley Thompson statue on the Oval on Sept. 13.
The Center was looking for a mascot when it found the gnome and named him after Albert Kuhn, for whom the Kuhn Honors House is also named.
Kuhn worked in the English department at OSU, was vice president for Academic Affairs and provost from 1971 to 1979 and served as director of University Honors from 1985 to 1989.
Morris started the project at the beginning of Fall Semester with Anneke Mason, graduate administrative associate at the University Honors and Scholars Center.
Students are on Facebook all the time, Morris said, but might not be looking at the Honors and Scholars Center’s page.
“We really have a lot of important information to share,” Morris said. “We wanted a place that we could share that information, but first we had to get students on our Facebook.”
The contest is fun and interactive and also helps students become familiar with different areas on campus, she said.
In addition, the project creates “a sense of community with the honors and scholars students,” Morris said. “It’s something that they can really do anytime, anywhere.”
The project has “definitely” increased traffic to the Facebook page, Mason said. “The other day we posted (a photo of Albie) and within like two minutes there were responses.”
Nuri and another contest winner, Nicole Maher, said they have “liked” the Honors and Scholars Center Facebook page since their freshman year but have recently noticed the page coming up in their newsfeed more.
“I saw the picture, I knew exactly where it was,” said Maher, a fourth-year Honors student in psychology. She correctly guessed Albie’s location at the Browning Amphitheater on Sept. 7. “I just did it for fun to see what would happen.”
Because of the positive reaction to the Albie project, “We are looking to do future Facebook campaigns,” Morris said.
Albie might be roaming beyond campus next semester, she said.
“We are really hoping that this goes further and that Albie will go abroad,” Morris said.