University of Redlands

Introducing George Willis, eighth official U of R mascot


In the weeks following Mascot Emerita Addie’s graduation on April 23, the University of Redlands community knew that the next live Bulldog mascot would have some large shoes—or paws, rather—to fill.

On May 6, those paws were introduced, and they belong to George, the eighth mascot in a long line of Redlands pride and history. A handsome pup with chocolate fur, a spotted ear, and bright blue eyes, George will spend the summer acquainting himself with the main Redlands campus community while in the care of his handlers, School of Music Director Joe Modica and Candice Stewart.

armacosts_275.jpgGeorge’s name honors the University's fifth president, George Henry Armacost, who spent 25 years in leadership at Redlands, from 1945 to 1970. During his tenure, the University experienced incredible growth in the student body and infrastructure, including the development of key programs, such as Study Abroad, Salzburg Semester, and the Johnston College, which were all launched under his leadership. George and his wife, Verda, remained active in the Bulldog community after his retirement. 

With the help of an extensive social media campaign, members and friends of the University community weighed in to choose George’s middle name. After collecting 1,306 official votes, the majority designated him George Willis.

The Willis Center was once referred to as the "Dog House" and was the hub of student life on campus. The Associated Students of University of Redlands requested that the building be renamed to honor the longtime Chair of the Trustee Student Life Committee Arthur B. Willis. When student life moved to Hunsaker Center, the Willis Center became home to the admissions and public safety departments.  

Poll responses for Willis surpassed those of two other options. One was Cortner, after George Cortner, who was a longtime U of R business manager who supported then-President Thurber with administrative expertise and was respected for providing continuity amid changing times. Another was Robert, after Robert Watchorn, who was a generous philanthropist that funded the construction of Watchorn Hall for the School of Music, among other projects. Willis, however, seems particularly fitting: in the years to come, George will likely greet many prospective students before their campus tours in the building that honors the work of his namesake.

Follow George on social @urmascot or correspond with George at