Monday, September 30, 2013

Spartan Pets: Faculty and their Dogs in UNCG History

Mary Channing Coleman and Bonnie
In an oral history interview conducted in 2006, Celeste Ulrich (Woman's College class of 1946 and professor in the School of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation from 1956-1979) discussed her life-long love of dogs and her extensive time spent training animals. She noted that, when she arrived at Woman's College as a student in the Fall of 1942, she felt at home because so many of the faculty members had dogs.

For Ulrich and many other students at WC, these faculty pets served as a conversation starter or a way for students to move past shyness or intimidation. As Ulrich stated, "students that were frightened of teachers and so on would come in and pet the dogs, and pretty soon they'd be talking to the teachers about what their real problems were."

Katherine Taylor and Suki
Faculty dogs appear quite frequently in stories of campus history. Mary Channing Coleman, who led the physical education program from 1921 until her death in 1947, was well known among the student body for being a challenging and intimidating instructor. But she was equally well known for her fox terrier, Bonnie. Bonnie traveled with Coleman around campus and even to class. In Ulrich's word, Bonnie "was just as equally ferocious as Miss Coleman."

Katherine Taylor, a 1928 graduate and Dean of Students from 1948 until her retirement in 1972, was also known around campus for her dogs. One of Taylor's pets, a one-eyed basset hound named Suki, made an unexpected appearance in the 1967 Pine Needles (the campus yearbook). According to John Robinson, who served as the photography editor that year, he needed a photograph of Taylor for the yearbook, but he was on a tight deadline. He managed to catch her on campus as she was taking Suki for a walk. Robinson felt bad about taking a photo of Taylor when she was unprepared and "she didn't even have a chance to brush out her hair." But, after the yearbook was published, Taylor thanked him for the picture, saying it was one of her favorites because it captured Suki's "good side."

Faculty dog show (Bardolph, Taylor, and Griffin)
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, a faculty dog show was held as part of the Purse Drive, a campus-wide fundraising activity led by the WC's Service League. In 1958, the dog show, held in the Elliott Hall ballroom, concluded the week-long charity effort. In 1962, the Pine Needles featured a photograph of Taylor along with professors Richard Bardolph (History and Political Science department) and Ellen Griffin (Physical Education department) at the dog show. Suki can be seen hiding in the background.

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