Utah Tech University

Dixie State University Name Process

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Now that the Utah State Legislature has approved the name Utah Tech University and Governor Cox has signed off on the bill, what is the next step?

The institution will begin to prepare for this transition and will officially assume the new name effective July 1, 2022.

What university name will students’ diplomas have on them?

Students who graduate prior to July 1, 2022, will graduate from Dixie State University and their diplomas will reflect this. Students who graduate after July 1, 2022, will receive a diploma from Utah Tech University. Any alumni who graduated before July 1, 2022, can request a new diploma with the Utah Tech University name for a $10 processing fee. Students who graduate between July 1, 2022, and June 30, 2023, may request a Dixie State University diploma with no associated fee. DSU diplomas will not be available to students graduating after June 30, 2023.

What does "Tech" represent in Utah Tech University?

The “Tech” in Utah Tech University represents our comprehensive polytechnic academic mission, characterized by active learning and industry partnerships that prepare students in all fields to graduate career ready. The University has been implementing this model for six years and will continue to offer degree programs in a wide variety of fields.

What is a polytechnic university?

A polytechnic education means active learning within all academic disciplines. Utah Tech University’s human-centered approach to problem solving prepares students for successful careers and meaningful lives. Students learn through our hands-on education and authentic industry experiences that cater to diverse abilities. The University’s more than 200 programs offer transformative learning across all disciplines – humanities, arts, education, health sciences, business, and STEM.

Will programs not in the tech field be eliminated or receive less attention or funding?

No. We will only add more programs and applied learning opportunities to ensure our students have access to a well-rounded education. Since learning by doing is a central part of a polytechnic education, every program will be infused with active learning experiences that prepare students to graduate career ready.

What steps are being taken to honor the Dixie Heritage?

The St. George campus will be designated as the Dixie Campus, per House Bill 2001 Utah Tech University, to recognize our remarkable Southern Utah community and honor the pioneers who started the local tradition of valuing education.

Who is on the Heritage Committee?

The Heritage Committee is exploring the best ways to preserve the heritage, culture, and history of the region and the institution, as outlined in HB 278. The Heritage Committee members include:
Steven Snow, Co-Chair
Lyman Hafen, Co-Chair
Tiffany Wilson
Danny Ipson
Laurie Lundin
Jess Bills-Brinkerhoff
Kelly Peterson-Fairchild
Adam Lenhard
Kress Staheli
Connor Shakespeare
Ralph Atkin
Betty Barnum
Danielle Larkin
Carmen Clark
Vince Brown
University Staff Member Assigned to Assist the Committee: Courtney White

How much will renaming the institution cost?

We estimate the cost to be around $2.7 million. As a state institution, we strive to use all of our resources conservatively and responsibly. We will continue with our regular maintenance schedule, and as items such as the basketball court, football field, and other spaces that experience wear and tear need to be replaced, we will do so with Utah Tech University branding. Marketing dollars that are annually budgeted for branding will be utilized as part of the rebrand.

Is the Trailblazers mascot also changing?

No. Our athletic brand of Trailblazers will remain part of the institution and will continue to be used in conjunction with the new name, Utah Tech University. In addition, Brooks the Bison will continue to serve as the mascot for the institution.

Why did the institutional name need to be changed?

We exist to educate students and prepare them for their future careers. If the name on alumni’s diplomas is presenting a barrier to their success in any way, we owe it to them to remove this obstacle. Cicero Group’s study indicated that 22% of recent graduates looking for jobs outside of Utah have had an employer express concern that Dixie is on their résumé.

As a small college that primarily served Utah students, the Dixie name served as a description of where in Utah the institution is located. Now that we recruit from all across the nation — and have an expanding national presence — it is important we have a name that strongly identifies our location and academic mission.

What factors did the Name Recommendation Committee consider throughout the name recommendation process?

Most collegiate school names fall within one of three categories: founder/historical names, location identifier names, and academic mission names. Although there are limited options for the name of a university, there are countless considerations. Each potential institutional name was expected to meet certain requirements outlined in House Bill 278 along with other vital considerations such as trademark, availability, double meanings, acronyms, and more. For example, popular name options included Desert State University, St. George University, and Deseret State University. However, St. George’s University already exists, Desert State University is currently trademarked by Marvel, and the definition of Deseret is tied squarely to a religious organization that many felt was not suitable for a public, state funded university. These are just a few example of the many considerations reviewed by the naming committee. Ultimately, the committee worked to secure a name that would recognize our area (Utah), reflect our mission (a polytechnic focus), and help the university compete nationally as outlined in HB 278.  Although these considerations were important to the decision, the most critical factor was to secure a name that would best assist our students and alumni in securing employment after graduation.

Has the University actively acquired URLS associated with possible future institutional names?

Yes. It is best practice before announcing even a potential name change to secure domain names so others can’t. Large organizations are often targeted when they announce they are looking into changing their names; popular domain names can go for tens of thousands of dollars. We acted proactively to ensure this didn’t happen to us. We purchased any available domain name we thought could be a possible name option.

Was the community involved in the name recommendation process?

Yes. House Bill 278S01, Name Change Process for Dixie State University, charges the University’s Board of Trustees with forming a name change committee comprised of community members and industry leaders in addition to students and university personnel. Additionally, the committee collaborated with residents of southwestern Utah, institutional partners, and university faculty, staff, students, and alumni in the recommendation process. From town hall listening meetings and focus groups to the impact study and community survey, the Name Recommendation Committee received nearly 20,000 responses.

Who is on the Name Recommendation Committee and how were members chosen?

The Dixie State University Board of Trustees, in consultation with the Utah Board of Higher Education, selected a variety of students, university personnel, community members, and industry leaders who represent a wide variety of the University’s stakeholders. Each member of the committee represents at least one stakeholder group, including, but not limited to, those groups statutorily mandated to be represented, mentioned above.

Name Recommendation Committee members and the stakeholder group(s) they represent are:

  • Chair Julie Beck (DSU Board of Trustees; industry leader; alumni)
  • Vice Chair Shawn Newell (Utah System of Higher Education; industry leader)
  • Bruce Hurst (industry leader; alumni)
  • Danny Ipson (community; industry leader; alumni)
  • Michael Lacourse (university administration)
  • Susan Ertel (faculty representative)
  • Deven Macdonald (DSU Board of Trustees; industry leader)
  • Patricia Jones (Utah System of Higher Education; industry leader)
  • Penny Mills (student)
  • Deven Osborne (student)
  • Megan Church (staff representative; alumni)
  • Chip Childs (community; industry leader)
  • Jordon Sharp (university marketing)
  • Darcy Stewart (community; industry leader)
  • Terri Draper (community; industry leader; alumni)
  • Randy Wilkinson (community; industry leader; alumni)
  • Ralph Atkin (community; industry leader; alumni)
  • Connor Shakespeare (community; industry leader; alumni)
Is the name Dixie really hurting students and alumni?

The Cicero study indicates that 22% of recent graduates looking for jobs outside of Utah have had an employer express concern that Dixie is on their résumé. As preparing students for the careers of their dreams is at the very core of the University’s mission, retaining a name that has negatively impacted the job search process for more than 1 in every 5 of our alumni would be doing them an incredible disservice. In competitive job markets, it’s crucial that a DSU education gives graduates a competitive advantage rather than present an obstacle they must overcome.

Data also shows the name will hinder our ability to get students on campus to participate in DSU’s unique “active learning. active life.” experience. In fact, 41% of out-of-state prospective students think keeping the name Dixie will have a negative impact on recruiting.

The strength of the education offered at DSU is dependent on the quality of faculty we employ. Due to the nature of specialized credentials needed to work in a university setting, there is a limited pool of qualified job candidates in the region, so it is necessary to recruit faculty and staff from all across the nation. If the name precluded candidates from out of state from applying for DSU jobs, then the University struggles to fill positions as we continue to grow and the teaching and learning experience will suffer, which will lead to decreased enrollment. Almost half (49%) of current faculty and staff think keeping the name Dixie will have a negative impact on recruiting new faculty and staff.

Additionally, the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, our accrediting body, recently added a heavy emphasis on inclusion and diversity to their accrediting process, which could affect our score in the future. Although the NWCCU recently granted DSU’s accreditation for seven more years, of the four major commendations for the University, looking into changing our name was among them.

The name doesn’t seem to be holding back the institution, as it has recently experienced growth. Why is a change being recommended now?

In addition to gaining University status, the incredible growth DSU has experienced over the last five years — adding 111 academic programs and increasing the student body by 41 percent, for example — is the reason why a name change is being recommended. However, issues involving the name are increasing in ways that have not impacted the institution and its students in the past. In the past year alone, our institutional name has negatively impacted scholarship opportunities, partnerships, donations, recruiting, lending, merchandising, graduate school acceptance, and job placement.

As DSU continues to grow and serve both our local community as well as students from other areas, it is important to have a name that is not only inclusive but also avoids any confusion about the location of the institution. By continuing to grow, more opportunities will become available at the University, offering local and national students alike optimal learning experiences, career preparation, and the skills necessary to meet workforce demands particularly as large companies look to move to this region.

In addition, the number of students graduating from high schools nationwide will drop considerably during the coming years. All institutions of higher learning are carefully working to eliminate any competitive disadvantages in preparation for this highly competitive recruiting environment.

Why can’t the Dixie name be retained since all of the University’s ties to the Confederacy have been severed?

The University is committed to ensuring all individuals are welcomed, safe, and valued members of Trailblazer Nation. Because the institution has used Confederate language and symbols in the past, it is important the University makes a clear declaration that we do not stand for what these symbols represent. Furthermore, the word Dixie still is synonymous to the Confederacy to many. According to Cicero findings, 33% of Southern Utah residents, 41% of Utahns, and 64% of respondents from our recruiting region indicated that Dixie means the South/Confederacy to them.

As we grow into an open, inclusive, comprehensive polytechnic university that recruits students, faculty, and staff from all over the nation, it is important we have a brand that represents who we are and where we’re going.

Will the University changing its name lead to other local organizations facing pressure to remove Dixie from their names?

The local use of Dixie, included in the name of 150 businesses in the area, has always honored the region’s pioneers without tying to the Confederate South. However, Dixie State hurt the local meaning when it introduced Confederate symbols in the 1950s. While local, private businesses with Dixie in their names can declare that their brand identity is not connected to Confederate ideology and never has been, the University, a public institution, unfortunately, cannot make the same assertions. Furthermore, most local companies serve a local audience who understand and embrace the local meaning of the name Dixie. DSU’s students come from all over the country and then graduate and work all over the country. While private businesses typically have a niche customer base, Dixie State University is a public institution with a responsibility to serve the broader public.

What will happen to the D on the Hill and the Dixie on the Sugarloaf should DSU change their name?

Currently, DSU owns and maintains the D on the Hill and the City of St. George owns and maintains the Dixie Sugarloaf at Pioneer Park. DSU has no desire to take-away or alter the D on the Hill, and the city has no plans to remove Dixie from the large sugarloaf rock. As has been shared, we honor and respect the local meaning of Dixie. In that spirit, and with the support of the City of St. George, we are in the process of applying to have the D on the Hill and the Dixie Sugarloaf be included on the National Register of Historic Places. Our goal is to ensure these landmarks remain  honored symbols for our entire community. We plan to use the D-light capabilities to celebrate not only DSU accomplishments, but also feature local high schools’ colors when they win state championships in addition to recognizing holidays, traditions, initiatives, and more. For example, when Dixie High School wins a championship, we will change the D blue, and when Snow Canyon wins, the D will proudly shine gold and green.

Why is the name offensive to some, when it is so positive in our area?

We respect, understand, and love the regional meaning of Dixie that refers to the cotton mission and means pioneer heritage, camaraderie, grit, sacrifice, and service. However, beyond our regional borders, the term Dixie means something different and often stirs negative connotations associated with discrimination and intolerance. In fact, 33% of Southern Utah residents, 41% of Utahns, and 64% of respondents from our recruiting region indicated that to them, Dixie means the South/Confederacy and what it stands for.

Although several meanings of Dixie exist, throughout our nation, today the term Dixie is most commonly associated with the old South and Confederate states – the eleven Southern states that seceded from the United States in 1860 to form the new Confederate States of America. Dixie was essentially considered the land south of the Mason-Dixon line, where slavery was legal. Because slavery was at the center of the Civil War and a deep fracture in our country’s history, for some, the term Dixie stirs up derogatory connotations of discrimination and intolerance. As a public, open-enrollment institution, it is in our mission and values to be welcoming and accepting of our students.

We acknowledge that the institution used symbols and terms related to the Confederacy in the past. We apologize for this and recognize that such use was insensitive.

With multiple rebrands over the years, why is the institution rebranding again?

As Dixie State has gone through the process of growing from a community college to a comprehensive university, the athletic and institutional brands have had to grow along with the institution. As a result, it was necessary for DSU to study our brand and ensure it accurately represented the institution and its planned growth at that time. Because the Red Storm athletic identity did not resonate with the campus community or pay homage to our history and founders, it was necessary to rebrand the athletic identity to accomplish this important goal. Previous rebrands were conducted with the goal of retaining the Dixie name because of the importance it holds to the community and University. However, now that Cicero’s impact study has indicated that 48% of faculty and staff, 30% of prospective students, 29% of students, 24% of alumni, and 16% of community members feel the name will negatively impact the brand of the institution, it is clear that the name will continue to be problematic and needs to be directly addressed.

Is a move to change the University’s name reactive?

Discussions surrounding whether the University should retain the Dixie name have been taking place long before the “cancel culture” mentality rose to prevalence. In fact, in 2013, when the institution gained university status, questions about the name were raised, and the University commissioned an impact study at that time. Then, the results indicated that it was not the right time for a change, but the study did suggest that if the University were to obtain a more national presence, it would need to highly consider a name change. With the institution’s continued growth since that time and increase in recruiting students, faculty, and staff from across the country, we need our name to accurately represent our vision for the future.

While DSU was still working through our 2015-2020 strategic plan, which guided the university from university status to university stature, the administration began formulating the next plan. Our latest strategic plan is highly focused on creating an academic direction that will set us apart from the 5,300 other institutions of higher education in the U.S. As the University’s Strategic Plan Steering Committee began looking into becoming an open, inclusive, comprehensive polytechnic university, it became clear that working toward this mission certainly would set Dixie State apart, as there currently are no other institutions in the country that satisfy all four elements of the mission.

Of all 3,255 respondents, when asked what factors are the most important to the future success of the University, the top four responses were academic reputation of the University, making the University a welcoming/inclusive place for all, enabling students to obtain jobs after graduation, and growing its reputation as a STEM-focused polytechnic institution.

As DSU begins adopting its new polytechnic academic focus, it is important the University’s name is befitting of a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)-focused institution. With our polytechnic mission focused on preparing students for careers of the future, the institution needs a name that will help us attract, recruit, maintain, and graduate the best and brightest students.

Is rebranding the University responsible stewardship of taxpayer dollars?

As a state institution, we strive to use all state resources conservatively and responsibly. We’ll work collaboratively with state leaders to keep costs as low as possible. Rebranding is never taken lightly because it is often expensive and no organization wants to lose brand equity. At times, however, the cost of not rebranding can be much greater. For example, the data shows 24% of white, 27% of non-white, and 43% of African American prospective students say the name Dixie has a negative impact on their willingness to attend the school. Additionally, the research shows that the name itself would prevent 36% of out-of-state, recent alumni from referring others to DSU. With these data points and others provided in the report, it is easy to see how in a short amount of time, the cost of not changing could be far greater than the costs associated with a rebrand.

Does the University understand that some may choose not to support the institution as a result of the name change?

Results from the Cicero study indicate that 2/3 of alumni who graduated prior to 2009 would consider reducing their support if the name of the University changes, which is very difficult to learn. We understand that any movement to change the name of Dixie State University could lead community members and supporters to distance themselves from the University. While this prospect concerns and saddens us, we have a deep obligation to help foster our students’ success. Looking out for the best interest of our current and future students, in this case by ensuring their employment prospects are not hindered by the name of the alma mater listed on their résumés, needs to be our top priority. It is our hope that all alumni will eventually see that no one is attempting to take away their history or memories. We simply aim to build a legacy that will help both the institution and our students reach their full potential.

Data Reports

Dixie State University's Strategic Plan

Trailblazing Distinction, Dixie State’s strategic plan that is guiding the University’s growth from 2020 to 2025, outlines the institution’s plan for becoming the nation’s first and only open, inclusive, comprehensive, polytechnic university.

Dixie Name Impact Study

The Dixie Name Impact Study was conducted by Cicero Group during the Fall 2020 semester to understand interpretations of Dixie, quantify the reception of perspectives, and measure impacts and implications.

Name Exploration Survey

The Name Exploration Survey was administered by Love Communications and yielded responses from 14,449 community members during the Spring 2021 semester to identify the most important considerations in selecting a name and determine common patterns among name themes.

Initial Focus Group Findings

Focus Group Findings share the results from the 47 focus group discussions with more than 300 key stakeholders that Love Communications conducted.

Final Focus Group Findings and Name Recommendation

After the themes were narrowed down to academic mission and Utah, Love Communications conducted a dozen focus groups that involved nearly 150 students and other key stakeholders. At the completion of this round of focus groups, Love made name recommendations to the Name Recommendation Committee.

House Bill 278

House Bill 278, Name Change Process for Dixie State University outlines the criteria the Name Recommendation Committee should follow to recommend an institutional name.

House Bill 2001 Utah Tech University

House Bill 2001, Utah Tech University codifies the name Utah Tech University, introduces the Dixie Campus and outlines the effective date of July 1, 2022.

Name Recommendation Timeline

July 2020: DSU announces it will gather information regarding the Dixie State University name.

During the summer of 2020, many institutions around the world announce changes to their brands due to direct or implied connections with the Confederate South or other symbols of racial inequality. DSU decides to not make any changes at that time, but announces in July 2020 they will be “closely monitoring the situation, actively gathering information and assessing all viable options to ensure the campus is a welcoming environment to all.”

September 2020: DSU partners with the Cicero Group to gather initial data regarding the impacts of the Dixie name on DSU students, alumni, employees, and partners.

Following the July announcement, the DSU administration meets personally with hundreds of community members to better understand the impacts of “Dixie” as part of the institutional name. From these discussions, DSU announces in September 2020 it will be “partnering with Cicero Group, an independent research firm headquartered in Salt Lake City, to conduct comprehensive research to help the institution and its governing bodies understand the positive and negative impacts of continuing to include ‘Dixie’ in the University’s name.” The Cicero study continues for three months and includes thousands of participants.

December 2020: DSU Board of Trustees and Utah Board of Higher Education unanimously recommend a name change to the Utah Legislature.

Based on the results of the comprehensive impact study, the DSU Board of Trustees and the Utah Board of Higher Education unanimously recommend a name process to the Utah State Legislature. Additionally, the recommendations are supported by DSU’s Cabinet, University Council, Student Executive Council, Staff Association Board, and Faculty Senate.

March 2021: Utah State Legislature passes House Bill 278S01.

Following the unanimous recommendation from the DSU Board of Trustees and the Utah Board of Higher Education to review DSU’s name, in March 2020 the Utah legislature passes House Bill 278S01 in support of a name recommendation process. The legislation tasks the DSU Board of Trustees in collaboration with the Utah Board of Higher Education with creating a committee to identify a name for the university that “reflects the institution’s mission and significance to the surrounding region and state and enables the institution to compete and be recognized nationally.” DSU Board of Trustees identifies Love Communications as the third-party consultant to assist with the process.

March 2021: The Name Recommendation Committee is formed.

The Dixie State University Board of Trustees votes to approve the Name Recommendation Committee membership, instructions, timeline, and process, laying the foundation for the committee to start its work.

March 2021: The Name Recommendation Committee starts its listening tour.

The chair and other members of the Name Recommendation Committee hold town hall listening meetings, consulting with stakeholders from across the community including the Defending Southwestern Utah Heritage Coalition, Chamber of Commerce, local business leaders, various student groups, and University faculty and staff.

April 2021: Love Communications creates and distributes a name survey.

At the direction of the Name Recommendation Committee, in April 2021 Love Communications creates a name survey to distribute to all interested parties resulting in 14,449 responses. The survey allows the Name Recommendation Committee to narrow the field to six overarching name themes.

April 2021: The Name Recommendation Committee reviews all available data.

The NRC reviews Love Communications’ survey results along with DSU’s Strategic Plan, the DSU Name Impact Study, and DSU Perception Study to identify name themes that will be presented to focus groups.

May 2021: Love Communications presents the final name themes to community focus groups.

Hundreds of community members are presented with the data collected during Love’s survey as well as positive and negative potential impacts of names within each theme group. Factors focus groups were asked to take into consideration included trademarks, acronyms, other meanings, similarly named institutions, etc.

June 2021: Love presents focus group data to the Name Recommendation Committee.

During a committee meeting, Love Communications shares insights gathered from focus group participants, including remarks sharing support and concerns about each theme. Love’s report is available here.

 

June 2021: The Name Recommendation Committee narrows down themes.

After carefully considering the feedback provided from the focus groups, the NRC goes through a rigorous process of narrowing down the name themes to the academic mission and Utah themes. The committee deeply considers all factors of name possibilities within these two themes and presents the name ideas to stakeholders through another round of focus groups.

Watch the committee meeting

June 2021: Love Communications presents the final two name themes to focus groups.

Love conducts a dozen focus group discussions that involve nearly 150 key stakeholders, such as students and decision makers. Focus group discussions center on the final themes of academic mission and Utah as well as specific name ideas.

June 2021: The Name Recommendation Committee selects a name to recommend.

Heavily weighing the information gathered in all previous steps, the NRC narrows the specific name ideas to one name and recommends the name Utah Polytech State University and the nickname Utah Tech.

Watch the committee meeting

June 2021: The Name Recommendation Committee recommends a name to the Board of Trustees.

The committee presents its name recommendation to the DSU Board of Trustees in an open public meeting, where the board votes to recommend the name Utah Tech University to the Utah Board of Higher Education. The Trustees must ensure the name recommendation reflects the institution’s mission and significance to the surrounding region and state and enables the institution to compete and be recognized nationally, per the requirements of House Bill 278.

Watch the Board of Trustees meeting

October 2021: The Utah Board of Higher Education votes on the name recommendation.

The Utah Board of Higher Education is presented with the name recommendation and votes to forward the name Utah Tech University to the Utah State Legislature’s Legislative Management Committee.

November 2021: The Utah State Legislature voted and approved new name Utah Tech University.

Legislators voted to formalize the new name Utah Tech University.

November 2021: Utah Gov. Spencer Cox signed HB2001 into law

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox signed HB2001 into law Friday Nov. 12, officially renaming Dixie State University as Utah Tech University.

July 2022: Utah Tech University becomes the institution's official name.

After months of vetting logo design concepts with more than 400 focus group participants, the University rolls out the new brand.

In the News

Tiffany Wilson: Dixie State University name change is about student success

 

Salt Lake Tribune

New name for Dixie State properly looks to the future, Editorial Board writes
 

The Salt Lake Tribune

It’s time to support the proposed new name for Dixie State
 

Deseret News

‘Now I can hoop’: Dixie State basketball players grateful the school could change its name

The Spectrum

Letter to the Editor: The ‘Dixie’ dilemma

St. George News

Latter-day Saints (not Mormons!) know what’s in a name. ‘Dixie’ is no different

Deseret News

Dixie State’s name change isn’t about the past. It’s about students’ future

Deseret News

Why Dixie State students support a name change

Deseret News

Scott N. Howell: Now we know enough to change the name of Dixie State University

The Salt Lake Tribune

George Pyle: Time to make a list of things to change in Utah

The Salt Lake Tribune

Letter to the Editor: Can you hear us? Our student perspective on the Dixie State name change

St. George News

Time for Dixie State University to get a new name

The Salt Lake Tribune

Feedback

If you’d like to provide any feedback regarding this decision, please email name@utahtech.edu.