A college campus in Rhode Island is in mourning after its bulldog mascot collapsed and died during a campus festival. Bryant University President Ron Machtley announced on Thursday that the mascot, named Ironclad Tupper I, died peacefully Wednesday night of an apparent stroke. A posting by Tupper’s caregivers on his Facebook page says he suddenly collapsed in the middle of the school’s Festival of Lights. It says he died doing what he loved – being adored.
‘It is my sad duty to inform our community that our beloved mascot, Ironclad Tupper I, passed away peacefully last night,’ Bryant University president Ronald Machtley said in a statement on the school’s Facebook page. ‘He was bright, friendly, and always willing to lend a paw when needed to cheer on our teams or welcome new students. He will be sorely missed.’
Machtley says Tupper was beloved as Bryant’s first official mascot, and was a ‘wonderful symbol of grit and determination for our students.’ He said the school will ‘immediately’ seek out a new mascot to take the bulldog’s place, one that will bring ‘the same sense of pride to the many events at which he will represent Bryant’s spirit.’ ‘Tupper I will always be remembered as the first in what we hope will be a long and proud line of terrific, tenacious Bulldog mascots,’ he said. ‘No school could have asked for a better, more loyal, and friendly mascot.’
He says the university plans to begin a search for Tupper’s replacement immediately, and says he hopes that Tupper II will bring the same sense of pride to the community.
On the Facebook page ‘Bryant University Mascot Tupper,’ where pictures of the bulldog dressed up or with a ball in his mouth were posted regularly, fans shared personal memories of their interactions with the mascot.
‘So sad to hear this,’ one person wrote. ‘At any alumni event it was always my goal to try to find Tupper. He was such a sweet boy.’
Tupper’s handler told Eyewitness News, ‘Tupper loved coming to campus and getting scratches and love from everyone. He was our family member – mine and my parents. He spent most of his time getting pampered at home with a fresh, home-cooked species appropriate diet and lots of walks and belly rubs.’