President Hurd showcases the Lafayette family in ‘Need a Lift?’ web series

In+the+Need+a+Lift%3F+web+series%2C+President+Nicole+Farmer+Hurd+drives+through+campus+on+a+golf+cart+while+interviewing+guests.+%28Photo+courtesy+of+the+Lafayette+YouTube%29

In the “Need a Lift?” web series, President Nicole Farmer Hurd drives through campus on a golf cart while interviewing guests. (Photo courtesy of the Lafayette YouTube)

Isabella Gaglione, Contributing Writer

Look both ways while you walk to class this semester because President Nicole Farmer Hurd will be exploring campus in a golf cart for her new show “Need a Lift?”

In the web series, which began last fall semester, Hurd has conversations with members of the Lafayette community while driving through campus to Mojo 516 Cafe in a golf cart. Hurd was inspired to do the web series while participating in a listening and learning tour of campus. In that tour, she realized that other people should be hearing about the incredible people that she was getting to know as she got acquainted with the college.

“I think that the college at the end of the day will be its best self when we build these relationships even stronger,” Hurd said. “One of the honors of my job is that I get to see all these things. I really feel like everybody deserves a chance to be able to get to see what I’m seeing. I think there’s something really exciting about being part of this community.”

Other inspirations of the series were James Lipton’s “Inside the Actor’s Studio,” Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” and James Corden’s “Carpool Karaoke,” though President Hurd adamantly claims she will not be singing on the show.

Having these conversations in a golf cart was a purposeful decision.

“There’s something about being in the golf cart that feels a little bit more authentically fun than sitting in the office asking you questions, right?” Hurd said.

Along with being more fun for the audience to watch, Hurd believes the golf cart setting and lack of big cameras allow the guests to be more comfortable and open in the conversation.

“I think the cart brings out extrovert in people that maybe wouldn’t be so extroverted,” Hurd said. “One of the cool things is you can’t tell that you’re being videotaped because there’s GoPros.”

Hurd began “scouting talent” for guests of the show during class visits, diversity events and other gatherings on campus that she was invited to participate in. The first guest for the show was Justin Hines, associate professor of chemistry.

“He embodies why we’re all here,” Hurd said. “He’s a great teacher. He’s a great researcher and scholar… It was really sitting in his class and watching the magic that I was like, ‘I need everybody to see this…’ I was so blown away by his teaching and watching the students take that in. I’m like, ‘I’m gonna put him in the cockpit so everybody can see the magic.’”

In the first episode, Hines and Hurd discussed why he chose to teach at Lafayette, funding research on campus and Hurd’s experience watching his class.

In the second and most recent episode of the web series, Hurd interviewed Sherryta Freeman, Lafayette’s director of athletics. Shortly after their filming took place, Sports Illustrated named Freeman one of the 100 most influential African American women in sports and Lafayette College was named number one in the country in graduation rate for student-athletes. 

Freeman’s success in fostering a great athletic and academic community made her a top choice to interview.

“I want us to say ‘and’ more on this campus. This is a world that says ‘or’ all the time, that wants us to be contentious and separate all the time,” Hurd said. “[Freeman] is the living embodiment of the ‘and.’”

Freeman and Hurd discussed championship culture, how to provide the best experience for student-athletes and lessons Freeman has learned during her time as a student-athlete. 

Each episode of “Need a Lift?” ends with a speed round of questions intended to allow viewers to connect with the guest.

“I’m trying to be very consistent about that last part of the segment. You can compare like, ‘Hey, I never knew that this professor actually loves artist X or thinks about Y.’ It’s kind of fun,” Hurd said.

One question Hurd asks every guest is, “When you say Lafayette, what’s the first word that comes to mind?”

For Hurd, the answer is “family.”

“Without sounding too sappy, I was obviously incredibly excited to be here in July, but now it’s almost February and this was absolutely the right decision,” Hurd explained. “This place is home in this really beautiful and profound way now.”

Hurd’s ultimate goal with the series is to unite the Lafayette community together.

“I’m hoping people might feel like they have a relationship with these people,” Hurd said. “Next time you see Sherryta in Farinon you’ll be able to say hi to her and kind of feel like you know her in ways you didn’t.”

“Need a Lift?” has received positive feedback from a wide audience of students, parents, faculty and alumni.

“I’ve had some really nice feedback from alums who want to see students and want to see faculty and love the fact that they can see them in the golf cart,” Hurd said. “I think the beauty of that format is that it actually allows us to reach all sorts of different constituencies.”

Despite the cold weather, Hurd intends to continue the “Need A Lift?” series, interviewing students, faculty, alumni and trustees. Episodes can be viewed on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and on news.lafayette.edu.

Lucie Lagodich ’22 contributed reporting.