- BU students voted for a Boston terrier as their school mascot in 1922
- He was named for Gone with the Wind’s Rhett Butler because Rhett loved Scarlett. (Get it?)
- Over the years, Rhett has undergone several makeovers
Back in November 1922, the BU campus was embroiled in a debate about whether the University’s mascot should be a bull moose or a Boston terrier. As one student newspaper writer noted, some students felt that the Boston terrier was “too small an animal to typify an institution of the size of Boston University.” But he also wrote: “The Boston terrier has the characteristics we greatly desire in our athletic teams, loyalty, courage, determination, speed, enterprise, ‘PEP.’”
According to a May 16, 1922, Boston University News story, “The idea of a Terrier…was inspired by ‘Tim’ Ward, formerly editor of The Beanpot,” which was a student humor magazine at the time.
As we all know, the Boston terrier won out over the bull moose, in part, according to BU lore, because the dog was first bred in the United States in 1869, the same year the University was chartered.
In the early decades, real Boston terriers would appear at athletic events. Sometime after Margaret Mitchell’s best-selling novel, Gone with the Wind, was published in 1936, the mascot was named after its male protagonist–Rhett Butler. Why? Because Rhett loved the heroine, Scarlett O’Hara (scarlet, of course, being BU’s signature color).
In the 1950s, students began donning a Rhett costume not only at athletic games, but also at youth clinics, national cheerleading competitions, and various BU promotional and holiday events. Rhett has been known to stop by the George Sherman Union, dining halls, and other campus venues to help mark special occasions. He’s popular with kids and visits children’s hospitals and local schools for holiday events with BU varsity athletes.
The always-silent mascot, who stands 6’3” tall and weighs in at 200 pounds (according to his bio) and is currently embodied by several BU students, is said to favor a diet of “corndogs, hotdogs, chili dogs, and BC Eagles.”
Rhett has undergone a few makeovers through the decades, most recently in 2006, when he had his ears shortened and his fur went from largely gray to predominantly black. All things considered, though, for a dog approaching his 100th birthday, Rhett looks pretty good.