ST. GEORGE, Utah — In a 13-3 vote, a committee created to explore a name change for Dixie State University has voted to formally dump the name "Dixie."
It follows recommendations by focus groups and community surveys that concluded it was time to remove the name, because its connotation with the Civil War Confederacy was hurting the school's image. FOX 13 reported on Sunday that focus groups had passionate opinions for and against the "Dixie" name, but a 65% majority concluded it was time to retire the name from the university.
"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 statement Monday. "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 also decided to reject names like "Deseret" or "Red Rock" from consideration, as well as any names using St. George (to avoid confusion as a religious school), instead focusing on academic and Utah-centric themes. Future names now under consideration could be things like 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.
Love Communications, a Salt Lake City-based ad and public relations firm, will now workshop the new names before taking suggestions to Dixie State's Board of Trustees, the Utah Board of Higher Education and, ultimately, the Utah State Legislature.
New names could be presented to DSU's trustees next month.
The Utah State Legislature approved a bill earlier this year to change the name of Dixie State University. The school has long faced complaints about its ties to the Civil War South, with its use of Confederate imagery, including a "Rebel" mascot at one point. However, supporters of the "Dixie" name have argued it is more tied to Mormon pioneers who settled in the St. George area to grow cotton.
A new name will be brought back to the legislature to vote on next year. Governor Spencer Cox told FOX 13 on the last night of the legislative session that it would not include the name "Dixie."