Not enough pies to go around…

J. Check – February 8, 2017 

At the end of any semester, it seems like there are a lot of numbers swimming around in our heads – how many days are left, how well we need to do on the final to make a desired grade in a class, what near-freezing or scorching temperature we need to be prepared for when we step outside, etc.

However, during the week of Dec. 5-9, 2016 – right before finals – there was only one set of numbers which mattered for PRSSA: tickets. As part of the “Pie the Professor” fundraiser, which culminated at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication’s Holiday Party, all kinds of people – students, custodians, professors and even some of the competitors themselves – divvied their tickets up to determine which two (un)lucky professors would get a nice pie right in the kisser. The four potential victims were Jon Zmikly, Harry Bowers, Paul Villagran and Charles “Chuck” Kaufman.

Whichever professor received the most tickets and whichever received the least would be the ones to get pied. That element of the event made it play out quite interestingly, since you wanted to end up in the middle, and as the week wore on, it made for some interesting changes in the way things unfolded.

So many within the SJMC excitedly talked up the event in the preceding days. Once the event began, the hype was met and quickly ramped up. Let’s see how the action and numbers broke down, day by day…

Day 1: Out of the gates

Although nothing too eventful happened on the first day, little donations here and there added up and showed how this three-day race would take shape. When it came to getting tickets, Bowers and Villagram were sinking to the bottom early on, separated by only four votes at the end of the first day.

Meanwhile, Kaufman and Zmikly were quick to rise toward the top, but it was ultimately Kaufman getting a significantly greater amount of love and/or hate (you really can’t pinpoint exactly why people would vote for them – it could even be a combination of both!) after one day, leading Zmikly by 16 votes.

Day 1 Count (and by default Cumulative Count):

  • Zmikly – 32
  • Bowers – 18
  • Villagram – 14
  • Kaufman – 48

Statistically, the second day of the event was the one which garnered the least tickets, but it was also the day where things really started to heat up. While PRSSA didn’t divulge any specific ticket counts, we did leave tickets in their respective buckets for the duration of the contest, so anyone who looked could tell roughly who was near the top and bottom.

Seeing Zmikly was his closest competitor, Kaufman sought to deal a heavy blow and try to push himself to the safety of the middle. These days though, it wouldn’t have been enough for him to simply make a big donation. He put it out there for the world to see in a Facebook Live video:

Kaufman had a significantly quieter day in terms of getting tickets Wednesday, so his 30-ticket donation vaulted Zmikly to a 12-ticket lead at the top. With knowledge of that, Zmikly tried to counter by pleading with his Fundamentals of Digital and Online Media (FDOM) classes, via the class’ Snapchat story, to vote for others instead of him.

Simultaneously, the race at the bottom had a big shake-up as an anonymous faculty member’s 30-ticket donation to Bowers put him not too far off of Zmikly and Kaufman, leaving Villagran stranded quite helplessly at the bottom. The drama was far from over, with just one…day…left…

Day 2 Count (Cumulative/Total Count in parentheses):

  • Zmikly – 36 (68)
  • Bowers – 34 (52)
  • Villagran – 4 (18)
  • Kaufman – 8 (56)

Day 3: Narrow margins

The final day had arrived. Simple eyeballing told Villagran at the start of the day his face was now at serious risk of getting pied later on. He went from asking people to vote for others the first two days to pleading for votes the last day. In reality though, he knew all along he’d eyeball the tickets late in the campaign and adjust his strategy accordingly, and it paid off as he received a whopping 81 tickets – the highest single-day, single-competitor haul of the event – to pull him closer to the rest of the pack.

Some interesting things happened less than an hour before shutting down the contest though. Our Membership Director Kate Jones, before heading off to her 12:30 p.m. class, wanted to see where the votes stood, so she counted the tickets up. Here’s where the 11th-hour tally left things:


Villagran’s final-day surge had done just enough to put him ahead by a hair at that moment. Zmikly was still sitting rather nervously on the hot seat for the most tickets…but then this happened:

Just as Kaufman had dealt a critical blow to him the day before, Zmikly had returned the favor, putting Kaufman ahead again by a few votes. I was incredibly giddy at this point, literally jumping up and down, but all I could say to everyone else was the race was “very, very interesting” at that moment. A few more votes trickled in as the clock wound down…and proverbially struck midnight (1 p.m.). The final results were…

Day 3 Count (Cumulative/Total Count in parentheses):

  • Zmikly – 40 (108)
  • Bowers – 21 (73)
  • Villagram – 81 (99)
  • Kaufman – 57 (113)

Party: Who’s the third pie for!?

After an hour of cheerful and pleasant socializing (and some last-minute banter between the four participants in the contest) at the SJMC Holiday Party, the moment had come. Three days of pleading, social media campaigning and stuffing tickets into competitors’ jars had led up to that one fateful moment. After it was announced Kaufman and Bowers would be the two (un)lucky professors, Villagram and Zmikly gave each other a relieved high-five, so much had the passion and drama behind the event grown in just a few short days.

The pies and makeshift bibs were brought to the lobby of Old Main for the moment we had all been waiting for. The first person to be pied would be Charles, “Chuck” Kaufman, and after a brief bidding process, our PR Director Danielle Martinez won the right to do the honors.

Next was Harry Bowers, who donned his trash bag bib and stared destiny (and soon a pie) in the face. After another bidding process, the right to pie him went to our Membership Director Kate Jones, who gleefully smacked the pie in his face and rubbed it in for good measure.

Mysteriously, a third pie had been prepared…and it was intended for none other than our President Kristen Torrez. One final bidding process gave her dear friend (no word on if the pie-ing has affected their bond) Savannah Stockton the tremendous honor of satisfyingly slamming that third pie right in her face, bringing the event to a conclusion.

Additionally, some aftershocks saw Zmikly targeted for leftover pie-ing, and A.J. Arreguin as well as our Secretary Kris Bushong fell victim to such a fate.

While the event was, at the end of the day, a fundraiser for our chapter, by the end of it all, it had definitely been quite a ­fun­-raiser as well…and plans are already in place to make it just as exciting, bigger and better next year.


Here’s a full graphical and numerical breakdown of how the contest went day-to-day as well as cumulatively.



For additional reaction and coverage from the event, check out Texas State PRSSA’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. The SJMC Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages also provided additional coverage.

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