Dixie State University Committee Recommends ‘Utah Polytechnic State University’ As New Name
Dixie State University is one step closer to a new name.
Its Name Recommendation Committee voted 11-3 Monday to recommend calling the school Utah Polytechnic State University, with “Utah Tech” as its nickname.
Monday’s vote is the latest step in a push to rename the school, which started after last year’s racial reckoning across the country and some people’s concerns about “Dixie’s” ties to the Confederacy.
The state Legislature passed a bill earlier this year that requires the university’s Board of Trustees to recommend a name and then, if they choose, send it to the Legislature for approval. The Board voted in December in favor of dropping “Dixie.”
The name change has been deeply controversial in Southwestern Utah. Supporters of a new title argue “Dixie” is offensive, limits students’ job prospects and hurts the school’s recruitment efforts. But critics say the term means something different in Utah than in the south and is important to their heritage in the region.
“This name recommendation will alleviate a lot of the pressure that's been on the community,” said Julie Beck, a member of the Board of Trustees and chair of the Name Recommendation Committee. “People will now be free to get behind and support something that is a unifying, inclusive and free name. It can bring in people from all origins ... to this university building upon the heritage of the past.”
The committee said they chose “Polytechnic” because it refers to an educational experience that focuses on hands-on skills and career readiness.
“It will be our job to start telling that story [about what polytechnic means],” said Jordon Sharp, a committee member and university spokesperson. “But it's something we're excited to do. We found that it resonates and that it is exciting to students, it's exciting to partners, it's exciting to our staff and faculty. So it's we're we're willing and ready to take this on and to become the first in Utah.”
However, some committee members argued that including “tech” in the name could be confusing.
“Here in Utah, we have a number of institutions that are technical colleges and I worry about the confusion with those colleges right now that are in place,” said Shawn Newell, who is also a member of the Utah Board of Higher Education.
Others suggested that “poly” could be conflated with “polygamy” given the state’s history.
A motion to suggest naming the St. George campus “Dixie Campus” failed.
The Board of Trustees will vote on the change next before sending it to the state Legislature for final approval.