Dixie State renaming committee votes to drop 'Dixie,' favoring mission and location themes instead

The Human Performance Center at Dixie State University in St. George is pictured in October 2020. A committee tasked with recommending a possible name change for the university voted on Monday, June 7, 2021, to ditch the past and move forward with something different.

The Human Performance Center at Dixie State University in St. George is pictured in October 2020. A committee tasked with recommending a possible name change for the university voted on Monday, June 7, 2021, to ditch the past and move forward with something different. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)



ST. GEORGE — A committee tasked with recommending a possible name change for Dixie State University voted on Monday to ditch the past and move forward with themes that work more closely with the university's mission and the state of Utah.

The Dixie State University Name Recommendation Committee — composed of students, faculty, community members and industry — made the decision after reviewing "a year's worth of research" into the matter. They voted 13-3 to move away from the "Dixie" name before voting 13-3 on moving forward with themes tied to the university's academic mission and voting unanimously on one theme that identifies Utah as the school's location.

"The Name Recommendation Committee takes very seriously our charge to identify an institutional name that reflects the university's mission and significance to the surrounding region and state while enabling the institution to compete and be recognized nationally," Julie Beck, a member of the school's board of trustees and chair of the committee, said in a statement after the vote.

"By pairing concepts from the academic mission and Utah themes, I am confident we will be able to identify a strong name that accomplishes this," she added.

The committee had narrowed the list of possible themes to "academic mission," "Deseret," "Dixie," "geological/geographical," "St. George" and "Utah" based on the feedback of nearly 14,500 people. There were then 47 focus group discussions involving more than 300 people conducted as a part of the process to narrow the themes down from there.

A report released last week found that "Utah" was the most-liked theme and "Deseret" was the least-liked theme of the six. Perhaps more importantly, the report stated nearly two-thirds supported changing the school's current name.

Monday's meeting was designed to pick two themes to move forward with. In a statement, committee officials said that the academic mission emerged as one of the more popular themes, receiving a 13-3 vote to move forward with it. They said they favored a name that promoted the university's "comprehensive" polytechnic education.

The committee also debated on what theme should be used to identify the school's location: St. George or Utah. Ultimately, Utah won a unanimous vote because the committee found that it was a stronger location identifier than the city's name.

Members of the committee explained that they argued the pros and cons in keeping the "Dixie" theme during the meeting. Those in favor argued it honored the community's heritage and better identified what part of Utah the university was located in; those opposed argued that it was confusing for anyone outside of the state, which is why the committee ultimately voted against moving forward with the theme Monday.

Beck said the university is "working very hard to become the nation's first and only open, inclusive, comprehensive, polytechnic university, which will offer students from Southern Utah and beyond unique active learning opportunities to prepare for the in-demand careers of their dreams" and contended that a name that highlights that academic mission would "better support the aspirations of our students, alumni, faculty and staff."

More focus group sessions — which will involve students as well as members of the Board of Trustees, Utah Board of Higher Education and Utah lawmakers — will be conducted by Love Communications. The agency will look to piece together final themes and specific name ideas that could be selected as the university's new name. Some proposed names that would fit the themes are:

  • Utah Technological University
  • Utah University of Technology & Arts
  • Utah University of Technology & Humanities
  • Utah Polytechnic University
  • Utah Institute of Technology
  • Utah University of Technology

The committee is set to reconvene next week to discuss the results of the next focus group. It's expected that a school name will then be selected and recommended to university's board of trustees later this month.

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