ST. GEORGE — Dixie State College officially became Dixie State University Saturday morning after Gov. Gary Herbert signed the House bill in front of an excited crowd.
With the newly acquire status, Dixie State University became the sixth university in Utah and the third open enrollment regional university in Utah, along with Weber State University and Utah Valley University. DSU President, Stephen Nadauld, talked about the exciting growth and changes the school has seen since its settler beginning 150 years ago.
"This is just a great day for Dixie — an unbelievable day in the history of this region," Nadauld said. "I've been thinking about the early settlers who came to this beautiful part of the world. They had a lot of visions and a lot of ideas, and one of that was really preeminent in their lives was wanting to be part of a community that had a university. The fulfillment of their vision is really an emotional experience."
Nadauld also gave tribute to the students and community for the college's growth over the years.
Utah lawmakers sent HB61 to the governor's desk for signing earlier this week. The switch to university status followed years of preparation and, most recently, months of debate over the controversial name change.
University status will also lead to Dixie State offering Master's degree programs in the near future. Possible graduate programs could be added in business, education, communication and medical disciplines.
Nadauld said the change sends a message that a broad number of degrees are offered at the school, that there's a quality faculty working at the school, and a message to potential businesses looking to move to the St. George area that there's a pool of potential quality employees.
"'University' says training, says education, says preparation, says we can supply you with the educated work force your business needs to be successful," he said.