Dr. Henry Spaulding and his wife, Sharon, are the ultimate duo on social media, impacting countless students with their monthly Twitter races.
With a couple 10-dollar bills in their hand and a heart to reach the student body, they head out several times a semester to a destination on campus . Weeks of planning come down to this moment: the tweet.
Within seconds of the post, students from all over campus come flocking to them. Some run from class, others leave the cafeteria and a few have been known to stalk Spaulding’s Suburban for days leading up to the big moment.
Free money and hungry college students mean no mercy.
Each student has the same goal: to be the first one to locate the President and First Lady of MVNU to receive the coveted $10.
After becoming president of Mount Vernon Nazarene University in 2013, Dr. Spaulding was looking for a way to reach out to the student body and make himself more accessible.
Social media seemed to be the best outlet to build these relationships and Sharon Spaulding came up with what she has dubbed, “Find the Prez!”
Each month President Spaulding tweets out his location on campus. The first group of students who arrive receive a prize of $10.
Sharon Spaulding loves to add her own crafty touch to each of the prizes correlating with the seasons. Rulers are awarded at the beginning of school, bunny eggs at Easter, and chocolate roses in February near Valentine’s Day.
Students have proven they will do whatever it takes to reach the location ahead of their peers.
“Some students have arrived barefoot because they didn't have time to grab their shoes and some have split their pants,” Sharon Spaulding said. “Others have seen their friends running to us and followed them to our location. Some students have fallen in the mud or have ridden their bike and followed the Suburban around to catch him tweet.”
Though they have many entertaining stories and fun memories with participants, the Spauldings say the real value is in taking advantage of these moments to personally get to know each student.
“I love the ability to meet students I would not normally meet,” Dr. Spaulding said.
“We love MVNU students and this is one way to bring a little extra excitement once a month to any student who wants to participate,” Sharon Spaulding said. “We get to talk with repeaters and meet some new ones for that month's winners!”
The students also enjoy the interaction, and many have turned on notifications to receive Dr. Spaulding’s tweets immediately.
Senior Josh Neighoff has won multiple times and takes pride in being the first to arrive at the location. He is grateful for the Spaulding’s generosity.
“That $10 goes a long way at Chipotle!” he said.
Senior Zachary Edwards enjoys getting to know the President and his wife, and applauds their efforts to connect with the students.
“It’s great how they reach out to the students on campus and are giving with their time and resources. It allows students to get to know the Spauldings on a more personal level,” he said.
This idea has been such a hit that the president of Point Loma Nazarene University in California has decided to start his own version of “Find the Prez” using #FindBobbyB.
To participate in the next “Find the Prez,” follow Dr. Spaulding and Sharon Spaulding on Twitter.