EDUCATION & SCHOOLS

St. George Resident Starts GoFundMe To Keep ‘Dixie’ In Dixie State University

Dec 18, 2020, 10:48 AM | Updated: 10:49 am

Dixie State University (Photo: Matt Glade, KSL) Sports...

(KSL TV)

(KSL TV)

ST. GEORGE, Utah – A southern Utah resident and “proud Dixie College graduate 1972” has started a GoFundMe to help keep “Dixie” in the title of Dixie State University.

The fundraiser has a goal of $50,000 and had raised $2,720 by Friday morning.

The campaign states that “funds are needed now to fight this on a state and legislative level,” though it does not specify how the money raised will be put to use. However, it did note that any funds remaining “will be given in the form of scholarships to Dixie State University students.”

On Dec. 14, the Dixie State Board of Trustees announced they were recommending removing the word “Dixie” from the university’s name. The Utah System of Higher Education is meeting Friday to discuss the decision. If the USHE board approves the name change, the issue will then go to the Utah State Legislature.

“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,” said DSU trustee Tiffany Wilson. “To foster this, it is crucial that our institution’s name reflects the quality education DSU offers. As an open-enrollment public university, we are committed to helping our students thrive and creating an institutional name that thrives alongside them.” 

The move came following findings that 22% of DSU graduates who sought work outside of Utah had potential employers express concern over the name of the university on their resume.

The survey was conducted by the Cicero Group, which studied the impact of removing “Dixie” from the university’s title.

According to that research, 42% of respondents from DSU’s recruiting region and 27% of alumni said the word “Dixie” had a negative impact on their willingness to attend the university or encourage a student to attend.

More than half of the current faculty and staff also think keeping “Dixie” in the title will have a negative impact on recruiting new faculty and staff, according to the Cicero Group’s findings.

According to DSU, other findings include:

  • 25% of southwestern Utah, 44% of greater Utah, and 56% of out-of-state recruiting areas believe the name will have a negative impact on the institution’s general brand
  • 36% of current students believe the name will have a negative impact on the institution’s general brand
  • 17% of community members, 38% of Utahns, and 52% of people outside of the state feel uncomfortable wearing the apparel outside of Utah; 47% of recent alumni who live outside of the state feel uncomfortable wearing their alma mater’s brand

“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,” said university president Richard B. Williams.

The GoFundMe campaign asserts that “many Dixie people have vowed to come together to let outsiders know that we will stand up for our pioneer ancestors and we will honor those who founded this community,” according to St. George resident Ilene Hacker.

According to the Cicero Group’s survey, “the ‘Dixie’ name creates particular challenges for out-of-state recruitment but is perceived to have more positive effects on recruiting within Utah, and especially within Southwestern Utah.”

The research noted that the “Dixie” brand is strong in southwest Utah, but “is largely problematic outside of Utah.”

“A name change would likely result in decreased alumni donations,” according to Cicero, “whereas keeping the ‘Dixie’ name could meant trouble for grant seeking, corporate donations, and partnerships.”

And, according to the research, the “Dixie Pride” perspective is most resonant for locals and older alumni, like Hacker.

“Erasing history and tearing down statues will not be tolerated in Utah’s Dixie,” she wrote. “We have watched other communities throughout our nation work together to save their history and heritage, we can do this too.”

KSL TV’s Madison Fitzpatrick and Cary J. Schwanitz contributed to this report.

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St. George Resident Starts GoFundMe To Keep ‘Dixie’ In Dixie State University