Click here to vote for Creighton University as the campus that Kathie Lee and Hoda should visit.
Click here to watch the Rev. Timothy Lannon appeal for votes for Creighton.
It started with a handful of sorority sisters who wanted to show Creighton University's school spirit in a contest organized by a national morning news show.
With the aid of cellphone videos, YouTube, and social networking on Twitter and Facebook, the campaign spread among Creighton students like wildfire.
Even the Rev. Timothy R. Lannon, Creighton University's president, and the society of 47 Jesuit priests who live and work on campus joined in the fun.
“Spontaneous combustion,” is how senior economics major Matthew Novotny described it. Novotny, from Omaha, is a member of a Bluejay spirit group.
The campaign helped Creighton win a spot among six finalists for the school spirit competition created by the “Today” show and the hosts of its fourth hour, Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb.
In early October, Gifford and Kotb will broadcast their show from the winning campus, to be chosen Monday. On Thursday, a “Today” correspondent will be on campus for Creighton to strut its stuff during a live shot at about 10:30 a.m.
The phenomenon appears traceable to the Pi Beta Phi sorority, which is quite fond of the “Today” segment hosted by Gifford and Kotb.
“A lot of girls love the ‘Today' show and religiously watch them,” said chapter President Lauren Wong, a senior health administration and policy major from Honolulu. “A lot of people on campus didn't even know who Kathie Lee and Hoda are, but they are so much fun to watch.”
Some of the members decided Creighton should participate in the school spirit contest. So after a chapter meeting on Sept. 5, they used a cellphone and recorded a video of all 100-plus members.
More than 100 members chanted “We love you, Kathie Lee and Hoda.” They played a Kathie Lee Gifford song. They did a Pi Beta Phi cheer.
The video was a hit when it aired Sept. 7. “They played my music — so they win,” Gifford quipped.
Kaci Frates, a senior marketing major from Dalhart, Texas, was one of two leaders in the video. The sorority had a watch party, complete with pancakes and mimosas.
“We freaked out (when they aired the video),” she recalled. “It was seriously so much fun.”
The campaign gained momentum after the video aired. Sorority members spent a day on the campus mall urging other students, faculty and staff to tweet votes in support of Creighton.
“At first, everybody thought it was kind of dumb, but once we were on TV, everybody was ‘ohmigosh,'” she said.
“We hounded people to tweet,” she said. “My homework kind of suffered, but that's OK.”
Others joined in. Bluejay Life, a social media network for Creighton students, urged students to tweet their votes. The Blue Crew, a spirit group that wears blue face paint and overalls to Creighton basketball games, spread the word, said Novotny, a Blue Crew member.
The Delta Delta Delta sorority made a YouTube video after Hoda Kotb noted that she had been a Tri-Delt in college. In another video, students played news anchors rolling out the “blue carpet” for the “Today” show.
The campaign is culminating on the weekend of Creighton's homecoming, when Creighton's soccer team is scheduled to play St. Louis University and a record number of alumni have registered to return to campus to reconnect with their alma mater.
Lannon put out email, Twitter and Facebook messages Tuesday urging Creighton supporters to vote for their school. Members of the Jesuit society are rumored to be planning an appearance on the steps of St. John's Church where they will ask for votes — “We're praying for it.”
Will Creighton win?
It's competing against Syracuse, Ohio State, Tennessee, South Florida and Brandeis.
Only Brandeis, with about 4,300 students enrolled, is smaller than Creighton, which has about 7,700. The others range in size from about 20,000 at Syracuse to nearly 70,000 at Ohio State.
“We're trying, but we're so small,” said Frates. “Earlier in the contest, a small percentage of us could tweet a lot. At this stage, we can only vote once, so that makes it a lot harder.”
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