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Reporting from the St. George area focused on local government, public lands and the environment, indigenous issues and faith and spirituality.

Dixie State Trustees Drop ‘Polytechnic,’ Recommend ‘Utah Tech University’ As New Name

A photo of a room of people, some sitting at a table with microphones, and some sitting behind them in red shirts reading 'keep dixie.'
Lexi Peery
Dixie State University trustees met Tuesday to vote on a new name. They decided to recommend Utah Tech University to the Utah Board of Higher Education and state Legislature.

The Dixie State University Board of Trustees voted Tuesday on another new name: Utah Tech University.

It came after a university committee recommended Utah Polytechnic State University on June 14. That was the result of surveys and focus groups finding the new name should include “Utah” and the school’s academic mission. At the time, the committee also suggested Utah Tech should be the school’s nickname.

More than 100 people were at the trustees’ meeting, many wearing red “Keep Dixie” shirts. Since it was not a public hearing, audience members weren’t allowed to address the board, though they did express frustration about the new name and shouted Dixie chants to close out the meeting.

UPSU quickly received backlash from community members, students and even some trustees. Tiffany Wilson, vice chair of the board, said it was an “epic failure,” but she said she still found humor in the jokes made about the name, such as UPS University.

Wilson said the latest suggestion includes the best components of UPSU.

“As I look at what it's going to do,” she said, “The benefit for our students is that it gives them the leg up as they go out into the world with some extra tech education under any major that they have. We're just preparing them for the future.”

The name change debate sparkedin July 2020 as the nation and Utah had a racial reckoning. The board of trustees voted in December to drop Dixie. However, the push for a new name stalled in the state Legislature.

A bill defining the name change process ended up getting approved, and included funds to establish a heritage committee, if “Dixie” was ultimately not included.

The trustees also passed a motion Tuesday suggesting to the future heritage committee the name of the campus be known as Dixie.

David Clark, chair of the DSU trustees, said he still has fondness for Dixie, just not having it as the name of the university.

“Quite frankly, I love the term Dixie, [it is] a term of endearment for me,” he said. “It means something to me when we start talking about grit and determination ... I'm looking forward to sharing those messages with [my grandkids and great grandkids] as well of their history and their heritage that is right here in this county. We want to continue to bring that forward, that will never change.”

The recommendation now goes to the Utah Board of Higher Education. After that, it moves to the state Legislature.

Lexi is KUER's Southwest Bureau reporter
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