ST. GEORGE, Utah (Gephardt Daily) — After reviewing a year’s worth of research, the Dixie State U. name recommendation committee voted Monday to drop the name “Dixie” from the university’s name.
The committee voted to further research names related to the school’s academic mission, recently defined as more technological, or related to Utah themes.
“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,” Julie Beck, DSU Board of Trustee member and chair of the Name Recommendation Committee, said in a prepared statement.
“An institutional name that will not only highlight this academic mission but also distinguish the university on a statewide level will better support the aspirations of our students, alumni, faculty and staff.”
The committee, comprised of students, university employees, community members and industry leaders, discussed six themes — academic mission, Deseret, Dixie, geological/geographical, St. George and Utah — which emerged from the community survey completed by 14,449 people in April.
Based on a recommendation from an SLC public relations firm, the committee unanimously dismissed names within the Deseret and geological/geographical themes. This recommendation arose from information gathered in May from 47 focus group discussions involving more than 300 key stakeholders, the Dixie State University statement says.
The committee discussed the pros and cons of retaining Dixie in the name, the statement says. Proponents on the committee of keeping Dixie expressed support for it honoring the community and university’s heritage and serving as a location identifier within Utah. Others raised concerns about its location confusion and meaning outside of Utah.
The committee voted 13-3 to not move forward with the Dixie theme.
The renaming project was begun in reaction public response to the name “Dixie,” which many people reported associating with the Civil War South, and slavery. Several students came forward to say they had been questioned during post-graduation job interviews about why a university would have a name that seemed to glorify a historical period in which Black people were so clearly exploited and abused.
The DSU statement says the committee also voted 13-3 to include a term from the academic mission theme in the institutional name, noting that the university’s comprehensive polytechnic education that combines active and applied learning with a strong foundation in the liberal arts and sciences will not only prepare students for careers that respond to industry demands but also set the institution apart from any other university in the state and nation.
With a vote to move forward with the academic mission theme and instructions from the Board of Trustees to narrow the options down to two themes, the committee discussed whether St. George or Utah would be a stronger location identifier. Several members of the committee expressed an affinity for the St. George community but concerns for including St. George in the institutional name due to possible confusion with a Catholic institution and its limited recognition outside of Utah.
Committee members also discussed how a Utah name offers a strong location identifier and statewide prominence.
Ultimately, the committee unanimously voted to proceed with the Utah theme.
“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,” Beck said. “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.”
Love Communications next will conduct focus groups with students and decision makers such as the university’s Board of Trustees, Utah Board of Higher Education and Utah state legislators, the DSU statement says.
“This more concentrated selection of focus groups will exhaustively delve into the final themes and specific name ideas to consider strengths and weaknesses in areas such as trademark, uniqueness, abbreviations and connotations. In line with the Utah State Legislature’s instruction, the final name recommendation will reflect the institution’s mission and significance to the surrounding region and state and enable the institution to compete and be recognized nationally.”
Currently proposed name options recommended by the committee included Utah Technological University, Utah University of Technology & Arts, Utah University of Technology & Humanities, Utah Polytechnic University, Utah Institute of Technology and Utah University of Technology. Names presented to participants are not final recommendations.
The Name Recommendation Committee will reconvene next week to discuss specific names that performed well in the focus groups and narrow down the search to one specific name to recommend to the university’s Board of Trustees this month.
For more information about the Dixie State University name recommendation process, visit dixie.edu/nameprocess.