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State Board of Higher Education Recommends Dixie Name Change, Along With University Trustees

Photo of Dixie State Entrance.
David Sanborn
The decision to change the name of Dixie State University is up to the Utah Legislature.

The decision to rename Dixie State University is now in the hands of the state legislature, since the Utah Board of Higher Education and DSU Board of Trustees have unanimously recommended removing “Dixie” — which has ties to the confederacy.

The board of trustees at the school voted Monday to remove the name and the board of higher education followed suit Friday morning.

Lisa-Michele Church sits on the board of higher education and is a former DSU trustee. She said it was a difficult decision for her to come to since she’s from St. George and has strong ties to the university.

“I think it comes down to what is the role of a public university,” she said. “This is not a heritage monument. This is a public university that has to serve students, and I want the students to have a successful experience there.”

The board of higher education was given a presentation by Cicero Group, which is the company that conducted a survey about how people feel about the name Dixie. The survey found that 22% of recent DSU graduates that have looked for a job out of state have had an employer express concern that Dixie is on their resume. Also, the study found the name has a negative impact on out-of-state recruiting.

This isn’t the first time a name change for DSU has been considered. In 2013, when the school switched from a college to a university people debated about dropping “Dixie.”

It ultimately didn’t happen, but Trisha Dugovic, a spokesperson for the board of higher education said this time is different.

“Given the special circumstances and the current social climate, I think that’s why it’s moving forward,” Dugovic said. “There's more widespread support for it this time, and so I think that's why we're hearing about it again now.”

It’s now up to legislators if they want to sponsor a bill to change the name. Rep. Walt Brooks, R-St. George, said he’s against changing it, but he thinks a bill will be introduced in the next general session.

“I guarantee you someone is going to bring it up and it'll probably be someone from down here,” Brooks said. “If it was sponsored by someone outside the region, it would look really bad.”

The legislature has the final say in the decision, and if a bill doesn’t pass, the school would keep its name.

Updated: December 18, 2020 at 1:03 PM MST
Lexi is KUER's Southwest Bureau reporter
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