If you haven’t spent much time on the second floor of Pardee Hall, a snapshot on the wall of a faculty member of the Math Department might make you look twice.
She has a thick beard, her ears are drooping isosceles triangles, and her black polygon of a nose is shiny. And even though she’s listed as having obtained a Ph.D. from Canine State University, there’s no need to call her “doctor.”
Maggie is good enough. The photo refers to her as Department Mascot, and she’s been a familiar sight at Pardee for 15 years.
Late one afternoon near the end of winter break, Maggie, a 15-year-old border collie, was sprawled on the office floor of C. Jayne Trent, department secretary, her human these past two years.
“She’s in a cranky mood,” Trent says. It’s nearly quitting time, and Maggie is itching to go home. But when a hand is offered, she licks it, courteously.
Dig dogs? Lafayette has you covered. From Raven, the Bailey Health Center stress-relief Labrador retriever, to puppies at The Dog House, the Living Learning Community where students live with and train helper dogs, you don’t have to look far to find wagging tails and lolling tongues. But few, if any, are Lafayette institutions.
Other than Maggie.
Call her a wunderkind–Maggie has been attending Lafayette since she was a puppy. During most of that time, the hand on the leash was Prof. Arthur Daniel Gorman, who died Dec. 16, 2014.
For the legions of students who learned the mystical language of calculus from the intense, wild-haired Gorman, Maggie was an omnipresent pal, a nuzzler of laps, a giver of soulful glances when concepts just couldn’t be learned.
“Many of our conversations concerned teaching, our students, and the sheep-herding skills of Maggie,” math Prof. Evan Fisher wrote on the Lafayette website shortly after Gorman’s death.
Gorman often asked Pardee custodians to skip cleaning his office. “It’s my responsibility,” he told them. Sometimes Maggie gives more than friendship; she leaves behind some of her long black-and white-fur.
Trent and Gorman bonded over their dogs. They met for the first time when Gorman was throwing a ball for Maggie, who chased after it and became “a whirling blur of black and white,” Trent later wrote on his obituary page. “She was so beautiful, so perfectly trained and focused, that I was in awe of the bond between her and the man throwing the ball. I asked if I could pet her, and that’s how I met Maggie and Art.”
The friendship lasted and when Gorman died, taking in Maggie helped comfort Trent.
And now as the keeper of Math Department Mascot, Trent is also curator of all Maggie’s quirks.
For example, forget photos. If you raise a camera, even the tiny one connected to your iPhone, Maggie turns her back or hides under a desk.
Also, she’s well acquainted with Lafayette geography and has definite opinions about it. Pardee, of course, is home. Maggie steers clear of Markle Hall, home to the College’s administrative offices. You have to drag her into Van Wickle Hall, home of the Geology Department–a building rumored to be haunted.
But she loves Farinon College Center, where students flock to eat, shop, and hang out.
“She’s a good girl,” Trent says.