Campus Gandalf seeks to impact student body and continue his legacy

  • Campus Gandalf Tobias Schwarz first read Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” while growing up as a missionary kid in Africa.
  • Schwarz first wore the hat the second semester of his freshman year, and he hopes to find a freshman to continue his legacy once he graduates in the spring.

As a young teenager living in Africa with his family of missionaries, Tobias Schwarz, Liberty’s Gandalf, known as Gandalf, would sit and read the works of J.R.R. Tolkien.

“I first read the Lord of the Rings when I was 14 or 15 years old,” Schwarz said. “When I was living over in Africa, that was my closest companion.”

Flash forward to Schwarz’s second semester as a freshman at Liberty University where his love of “The Lord of the Rings” series has only grown stronger. In February of 2015, Schwarz first donned the hat of a famous wizard to wear around the university’s campus. He later became known as Liberty’s campus Gandalf.

“Since I was homeschooled and lived in Africa, I didn’t have as much room to express myself,” Schwarz said. “So this was my opportunity to do my own thing just because I wanted to.”

According to Schwarz, he dons Gandalf’s hat in order to remind himself to exhibit the kind of wisdom Gandalf has, and to be reminded to “use his head” while making his decisions.

Schwarz did not expect so much encouragement from the student body when he decided to become Gandalf, but he did hope to put a smile on students’ faces as they go through their college years.

“The first day I wore the hat, some people said they liked it,” Schwarz said. “Now, I guess they like me as Gandalf, so I keep the hat.”

Although Schwarz thought the unusualness of the hat made him popular around campus, that did not stop the students from being impacted by the man under the hat: Schwarz himself.

Cecelia Monnin, a junior at Liberty University, thought Schwarz was strange the first time she saw him at Convocation.

“I was really confused as to why someone was wearing a Gandalf hat,” Monnin said.

But when Monnin saw that she would share a classroom with Schwarz, it brought a smile to her face that Gandalf would be studying alongside her.

According to Monnin, a lot of new “Liberty celebrities” may come about after being impacted by the stature of Gandalf.

“I think just like Gandalf, people will continue the legacy onward,” Monnin said.

Schwarz, now a senior, is keeping busy with his studies as he completes his final semester at Liberty University. According to Schwarz, he is keeping his grades up but is still finding time to read his favorite books.

As for continuing campus Gandalf’s legacy, Schwarz is on the look-out for a successor, preferably a freshman that would carry the hat through their graduation. But in the meantime, the pointy gray hat will remain on Schwarz.


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