Board Votes To Drop ‘Dixie’ From University Name

Dec 14, 2020, 4:30 PM | Updated: Jul 12, 2023, 5:29 pm

(Dixie State University)...

(Dixie State University)

(Dixie State University)

ST. GEORGE, Utah — The Dixie State Board of Trustees has voted to recommend dropping “Dixie” from the university’s name.

The announcement was made Monday afternoon.

The Utah System of Higher Education will meet Friday to discuss the trustees’ decision, according to Tricia Dugovic, communications director for USHE.

If the USHE board approves the name change, it will go to the Utah State Legislature, likely by next month’s session.

The University decided to review the name last summer as demonstrations against racial injustice flared across the country in the wake of the death of Floyd George at the hands of the Minneapolis, MN police department.

That included a focus on Confederate symbols and monuments.

Calls Renewed To Remove ‘Dixie’ From Southern Utah

“Our responsibility is to ensure our students gain the ‘active learning. active life.’ experience that is paramount to a Dixie State University education and prepares them for continued success. To foster this, it is crucial that our institution’s name reflects the quality education DSU offers,” Tiffany Wilson, DSU Trustee and alumna, said. “As an open-enrollment public university, we are committed to helping our students thrive and creating an institutional name that thrives alongside them.” 

The Trustees’ decision Monday was based on a study from Cicero Group. The University hired Cicero Group to study the impact of removing “Dixie” from the University’s name.

A news release said more than 3,000 stakeholders in St. George, Utah, and the University’s recruiting areas took part in focus groups, interviews, and surveys.

The news release noted the following findings from the study: 22% of recent graduates looking for jobs outside of Utah had a potential employer express concern of the word Dixie on their resume. Also, 42% of respondents from the university’s recruiting region and 27% of alumni indicated that the Dixie name has a negative impact on their willingness to attend DSU or encourage a student to do so, a news release said. Additionally, almost half of current faculty and staff think keeping the name Dixie will have a negative impact on recruiting new faculty and staff.

University President Richard B. Williams said, “Preparing students for the careers of their dreams is at the very core of the university’s mission, so it’s crucial that a DSU education gives graduates a competitive advantage rather than present an obstacle they must overcome.”

A new name has not been decided yet.

The school said it has been known as Utah’s Dixie since 1857 when 38 families moved to southwestern Utah to establish a new town at St. George and grow cotton. The news release said the regional name Dixie is used to honor the pioneering heritage of “grit, service, and sacrifice”. However, the study pointed out that many people in Southern Utah, statewide, and in recruiting regions equate Dixie with the Confederacy and the South.

The University will make the full study from Cicero Group available online starting at 8 a.m. Tuesday morning.

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Board Votes To Drop ‘Dixie’ From University Name