Was Dr. Parker making up a school of higher learning out of whole cloth or disguising a college with an assumed name? This question dates back on these pages to its first mention in Playmates, 1989, and wasn't answered until after the turn of the century. I've cut and pasted the original entries here.
Playmates: (Original entry by Mike Loux circa1996) Does Taft University really exist? They're not a member of the Big East (being an employee of UConn, a school whose basketball team is one of the Big East conference members, I know they're not in there). My guess is that Taft is supposed to be Boston College.
(My additon) Dr. Parker needed a fictional college in a fictional town but he likes to keep things easy enough to recognize. Among the college towns out west of Boston you have Waltham (Brandeis University, Bently College) and Medford (Tufts University.) To me a town named Walford seems an artful blend. Also, in Small Vices we are told Pemberton College, in Pemberton, is two towns to the south. Two towns south of Waltham is Wellesley, home of Wellesley College.
- Small Vices: Pretty much as above but I noted that the name is a nod to the Boston/Cambridge area that deserved a page of its own. See Pemberton.
- Back Story: Taft University...about a half mile from the Pike" - Well, that finally answered the question. Getting off the Massachusetts Turnpike at exit 14 and heading one half mile east will put you on the campus of Brandeis University in Waltham. QED
Jeff Goldsmith points out the irony of the name. "Yes, it definitely is. Louis Brandeis was an Associate Justice under William Howard Taft. The two men were pretty much diametrically opposed in view. Sounds perfect for Parker."