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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 Name Change Bill May Not Make It Out Of The Utah Senate

A photo of a sign that reads 'Dixie State University, Founded 1911.'
Lexi Peery
There’s a bill in the Utah Legislature that would change the name of Dixie State University. It’s passed the House but is stalled in the Senate.

The bill to change the name of Dixie State University has stalled in the Utah Senate. University administrators have been told the bill won’t be heard again this session, according to the Associated Press.

Senate leadership wouldn’t definitively say if it would be debated on the Senate floor at a press conference Friday. Sen. Don Ipson, R-St. George, said the bill is still being looked at.

“The situation is that the people of the community and the university are a little bit at a difference, and we're going to see if we can’t work that out,” Ipson said. “We're going to continue to work on it.”

University officials and legislators in favor of dropping “Dixie” are not happy about the stall. House Speaker Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, said it’s disappointing it may not make it to the Senate floor. Last week the bill passed in the House 50-21.

“I hope that the Senate will take this issue up and vote on it and give members a chance to debate this issue,” Wilson said Friday. “That's what we're here for. We are here to debate the big issues of the day and to talk about the things that we need to do to move our state forward, including southern Utah.”

The university board of trustees and state board of higher education unanimously recommended dropping Dixie in December. A survey about the name found it had negative impacts on recruiting outside of the region.

Dixie State University spokesperson Jyl Hall said university officials were “taken aback” by the latest development.

“University administration strongly feels this bill deserves to be discussed publicly on the Senate floor, where we are confident the bill has sufficient support to pass,” university officials said in a statement. “The residents of Utah deserve for the Senate to fully hear and understand the intent, purpose and impacts of this recommendation on our students, school and state.”

Tim Anderson, a member of a pro-Dixie group in southwest Utah, said he’s hopeful about the latest development, but he said they’re remaining vigilant.

“I think the level of hurt and anger and frustration here among the community in southern Utah and among many students, I don't think that was really being fully understood and appreciated in the legislature until just recently,” Anderson said.

The Legislative session ends in two weeks. If the bill isn’t heard by then it’s effectively dead.

Lexi is KUER's Southwest Bureau reporter
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