ST. GEORGE, Utah — The university formerly known as "Dixie State" has unveiled its new logo, with rebranding of the campus getting under way immediately.
Utah Tech University's logo was unveiled on Sunday. It includes some intentional nods to the university's past and more inclusive of the state as a whole. It features a red and blue scheme, designed to represent the blue skies and red rocks of southern Utah. The "U" logo includes the outline of the state of Utah and a "1" is carved into it to represent those who settled Dixie State.
The university is keeping the existing bison mascot and the "Trailblazers" name.
"Our students have been waiting for this," said Dr. Richard "Biff" Williams, the president of Utah Tech. "Our faculty, our staff, some of our community members. It’s nice to have this process behind us and we can move forward."
The new name and new logo comes after a contentious battle in southern Utah and on Capitol Hill to dump "Dixie." University and student body leaders pressed for a new name change, arguing the term "Dixie" was hurting recruitment and retention of students and faculty. Opponents of the name change argue "Dixie" has a regional meaning, related to Mormon pioneers who settled in southwestern Utah to grow cotton. They decried a "cancel culture" to strip the region of its historic name.
But supporters of the name change pointed to the term's ties to the Civil War and the Confederacy which was even on campus in the form of a "Rebel" mascot. There was also a yearbook called "The Confederate" featuring students in blackface and statutes of Confederate soldiers, even though Utah was never in the Civil War. Public opinion surveys showed support for a name change and students said they were tired of trying to explain the Utah version of "Dixie."
The issue reached a head and the Utah State Legislature voted last year to rename Dixie State University to Utah Tech University as the school focuses more on polytechnic education. But as part of an agreement, the main campus will still be known as the "Dixie campus." That will appear on a new sign leading into campus. There will also still be some memorials to the early pioneer settlers on campus that invoke the term "Dixie" and the university said there was no intention to remove the "D" on the bluff above St. George.
The name change doesn't officially take place until July 1, but the university is speeding up the rebranding so that it will be completed by the time the fall semester starts and more students return.
Dr. Williams told FOX 13 News he believed the community will ultimately unite around Utah Tech.
"This is our sixth or seventh name change and they’ve always come back and always supported us, and it’s really about the students," he said.
While some alumni have vocally threatened to withhold funding from the new "Utah Tech," Dr. Williams said they have more than made up for it with alumni contributions that came in since the new name was announced.
"We haven’t seen any decline. In fact, we’ve seen an increase in donations of our university. We know there are some who will not donate," he said.
Dr. Jordon Sharp, the university's vice-president of marketing and communications, told FOX 13 News the top question they now get on social media is from past graduates who want a reissued diploma that says "Utah Tech University." The university bookstore on Monday started selling new merchandise with "Utah Tech" branding.
"Alumni outside of our area didn’t feel comfortable wearing our clothing. It’s really hard because people love their alumnus, they’re proud of it, and yet some people felt uncomfortable," Dr. Sharp said.
The rebranding will cost millions to fully implement, but university leaders feel it is important.
"A new name for a new mission, a new type of student, a new economy and for the fastest growing city in America," Dr. Sharp said.
This is a breaking news story. Updates on FOX 13 News and fox13now.com as information becomes available.