By SARAH GRAMMER & EMILY HOLLINGSWORTH
The University of Mary Washington’s students, staff, faculty and community members came together to attempt breaking a world record to honor retiring President Hurley. The goal, which was to beat the 432 pairs who hold the record for most simultaneous jumping high-fives, fell short with only 198 pairs participating. Guinness World Records was present at the event to make it an official attempt.
The doors opened at 2 p.m. in the Anderson Center, police standing guard at the entrance checking bags. Participants were arranged in rows in the Ron Rosner Arena to wait for the moment of the record breaking attempt to take place. Many who attended were children who could be seen practicing their jumping high-fives while they waited.
At 3 p.m., emcees Cedric Rucker, dean of student life and Mikey Barnes, junior communication and digital studies major, took the stand. Rucker and Barnes entertained the early arrivals with trivia questions and prizes while late-arriving participants trickled in all the way until the official attempt at 4 p.m.
Stewards, who were required to be unaffiliated with the school, were present to judge whether or not everyone’s high-fives were successful, removing those individuals who left before the end from the final numbers and calculating the final score.
According to Hurley, the tradition of high-fiving seniors at graduation began when a senior student asked Hurley whether she could get a high-five instead of a handshake when she crossed the stage at graduation. To remember, the student told Hurley she would give him a code word: “Sunken Well,” a Fredericksburg restaurant where the student saw Hurley and asked the favor. The tradition has continued since then, a new code word circulating through campus each year.
The university showed a video where students speculated what Hurley would do after he retired. Hurley, wearing a layering gray long sleeves and blue High Five Hurley t-shirt, dispelled the rumors, and said that he and his wife, Rose would take an RV and travel across the United States.
Hurley also said he would be with a group of retired UMW presidents, and said he would still be involved with the university. “I really appreciate the love and affection,” Hurley said.
The judge for the Guinness World Records attempt was Michael Empric. Empric has traveled to Canada, the United States, Central and South America for Guinness World Records to judge record attempts. Some of the world record attempts he has overseen include the longest selfie relay chain in Hollywood in 2014 and measuring the world’s largest surfboard last year in Huntington Beach, California.
Empric was positive about UMW’s putting together the world record attempt, saying it was well organized and a kind way to say goodbye to President Hurley.
“[That everyone] came out as a community to support someone you will miss very much,” Empric said after announcing the university did not meet the world record goal. “That deserves a round of applause.”
Despite not making the record, Rucker pointed out after the event the university’s appreciation toward Hurley and wishing him the best following his retirement.
“This community truly loves you,” Rucker said. “Thank you for everything that you’ve given to UMW,” referring to Hurley.
Andrea Patten, sophomore biology major, believed that upcoming finals and the event being midweek may have prevented students from being involved. “They probably should have had it on the weekend,” Patten said.
Gussie Revercomb, junior computer science major, was excited for the event, her professor even cancelling class to encourage the students in the class to come. “[I can] cross it off the bucket list,” Revercomb said.
Several students had heard about High Five Hurley through email, seeing signs and cardboard cutouts of President Hurley on campus, and the various stations in the University Center. Shadesha McShine, sophomore Spanish major, heard about the Guinness World Records attempt from a station that was handing out Sugar Shack donuts. McShine also won the grand prize during the trivia portion of the event, a 32-inch TV.
Senior Biology major Alexa Allen offered a suggestion for how they could have gotten more students involved.
“They should’ve gotten pizza, more people would have shown up,” said Allen, who is undecided as to whether she will be asking Hurley for a high-five instead of a handshake at graduation. “We would’ve blown the record out of the water if they had offered free food.”
Senior Communication and digital studies major, Christa Snyder, shared that her favorite thing about President Hurley is his mustache.
“Having a mustache for 43 years is real dedication,” Snyder said. Even though the record wasn’t broken students still considered it a success. “They had a lot of students, faculty, staff and community members come out for it,” Snyder said.
“It shows a lot of people were interested and wanted to be a part of this.”