The first Jack the Bulldog statue was installed outside the Healey Family Student Center on Sept. 24, commemorating the legacy of Georgetown University’s bulldog mascots.
While the university has not confirmed whether the sculpture depicts a specific Jack, the statue is inspired by Jack Sr., the mascot from 2003 to 2013, according to Fr. Christopher Steck, S.J. Steck was the caretaker of Jack Sr., who lived with Steck on the fourth floor of New South Hall while Jack Sr. was mascot.
Janet Pfister, former executive assistant to University President John J. DeGioia (CAS ’79, GRD ’95), led the creation of the statue, which was sculpted by Brian Hanlon, a nationally acclaimed sculptor. Pfister had a close relationship with Jack Sr. and often helped take care of the mascot while she was the executive assistant, according to Steck.
The statue serves to physically commemorate the memory of Jack Sr., whose loving personality had a strong influence on all those around him, according to Pfister.
“Jack touched our lives with his endearing expressions, his entertaining mannerisms, and his loving devotion to Father Steck and all of his Hoya family,” Pfister wrote in an email to The Hoya. “I felt it was so important to preserve his memory not just in our hearts, but in an enduring memorial on the Georgetown campus, the home he knew and loved for his entire life.”
The statue was funded by Bob Hohmann (GSB ’68), who was involved with the Georgetown men’s basketball program during John Thompson Jr.’s tenure as coach of the team from 1972 to 1999, according to Steck.
Hohmann funded the employment of the first head caretaker of Jack’s Crew, the group that cares for the bulldog, starting in 2008, Steck wrote.
“When demands surrounding the mascot increased (lots of requests for Jack attending different functions on and off campus), and I found myself needing to hire a student to organize Jack’s schedule, Bob stepped in to provide the funding,” Steck wrote in an email to The Hoya.
The university has not installed a plaque specifying details of the history of Jack. However, a bronze donor plaque is planned for the end of October, according to Carla Tiberi, a senior project manager and landscape architect at Georgetown.
The university’s decision not to currently specify which Jack the statue is modeled after creates an all-encompassing representation of the mascot, according to a former Jack Crew member Matthew Lewis (COL ’99, GRD ’06).
“I certainly think there would be value to having some sort of plaque to commemorate what exactly this Jack was but I understand the university’s position on a more “universalist” all-encompassing Jack representation,” Lewis wrote in an email to The Hoya.
Before Jack Sr., most Jack the Bulldogs were not seen much on campus, according to Steck. As a mascot, Jack the Bulldog became an integral and active part of the Georgetown community when Jack Sr. arrived on campus in 2003. Once Jack Sr. began performing his “box trick” at basketball games in 2005, the mascot started to become more popular, according to Steck.
“The mascot really took off with the box trick,” Steck said in an interview with The Hoya. “A certain time out would happen, and they’d paint a box in colors of the opposing team’s logo. Jack loved to attack boxes, so it was easy to get him to go after it.”
The “box trick” increased Jack Sr.’s popularity, causing demand for the mascot to grow across campus, Steck said.
“It was a very popular trick, and it put Jack on the radar screen for people,” Steck said. “He walked around the concords and then I set up a website to help me with requests for Jack, and it just kind of grew and grew.”
Moving forward, the statue can be incorporated into a new Georgetown tradition to honor Jack Sr., according to Steck.
“Pat his head for health and happiness and rub his [letter] G for goodness and greatness,” Steck said.