Following directives from the Utah State Legislature, the Dixie State University Board of Trustees commissioned a committee to begin a name exploration process for DSU. The Name Recommendation Committee (NRC) consists of students, university personnel, community members, and industry leaders, and meets frequently to learn, listen, and discuss all considerations involving our institutional name. In addition, the NRC is overseeing surveys, listening tours, town hall meetings, and focus groups with the entire community as part of this important process. Here you can track the NRC’s progress, find frequently asked questions, and provide feedback to the committee.
Letter to the Community from the DSU Board of Trustees
July 2, 2021
As DSU moves forward with the name recommendation of Utah Tech University, we appreciate your interest during this pivotal moment in our history. We know this topic has overtaken your social media feeds and family dinners for the past year, but this exhaustive process was necessary to establish the strongest name possible. The Utah Tech University name embodies our trailblazing spirit of forging stronger paths for others to follow.
Career Ready Mission
Many of you have asked why DSU is moving toward a polytechnic focus and what that means. Starting in 2014, we set out to discover what kind of university we needed to become. We talked personally with hundreds of you. You shared the types of employees you needed, the skills you required, and most importantly, your great desire for your children and grandchildren to earn a livable wage and raise their families in Washington County.
Consequently, we studied the most effective teaching models in the nation. Considering our workforce needs, we gravitated toward a polytechnic mission that provides career readiness for all students and adds much-needed programs in the STEM and healthcare fields. This model is similar to other prestigious state-funded comprehensive universities like Texas Tech, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, and Cal Poly. There are approximately 33 polytechnic/technological institutions in the nation, but there are no such declared institutions in our state or surrounding region. It is a national best practice for states to support both technical/vocational colleges and polytechnic/technological universities to fulfill vital workforce needs. On any given day in the tech sector alone, there are 12,000 to 15,000 available jobs starting at $80,000 a year within 300 miles of St. George. As an institution of higher learning, we must adapt to meet these demands.
As a result, in the last five years alone, DSU has added 111 programs with 85% of them in the STEM and healthcare disciplines. We created active learning experiences for all students and nearly doubled our facilities. With this mission, we will continue to offer exceptional hands-on experiences in more than 200 academic disciplines at the lowest university tuition cost in the state. Please take a moment to learn more about this focus and how it will impact all of us at dixie.edu/polytech.
Many have asked about DSU’s name recommendation process. Was it comprehensive enough? Did it take enough time? Did it include enough people? The simple answer to all these questions is a resounding YES. The yearlong process included more than 20,000 responses through surveys, interviews, focus groups, listening meetings, and more. In addition to fulfilling instructions from the Utah State Legislature, Utah Board of Higher Education, and DSU Board of Trustees, the Name Recommendation Committee considered countless factors such as trademarks, acronyms, availability, double meanings, stakeholder feedback, and more.
The process will continue as the Utah Tech University recommendation goes to the Utah Board of Higher Education and the state legislature for final approval. The sheer magnitude of this discussion has generated many narratives, and while some have been correct, others have been greatly misconstrued. You can find accurate, up-to-date information regarding the process, timeline, data, frequently asked questions, and much more below on this webpage.
Utah Tech University
Although it is impossible for tens of thousands of individuals to agree on a topic as subjective as a name, it is our hope you will understand the sincerity and significance of this process. We are working to secure the most authentic and aspirational name possible for our school, and based on countless factors, Utah Tech University is that name. Of the top 100 ranked universities in the U.S., more than 60 include the name of their state and many are technological or polytechnic institutions.
We will continue to support the local name of Dixie and protect the D on the Hill. DSU has plans to create a special committee to preserve our heritage and maintain our traditions. A Utah Tech Trailblazer will honor the contributions of our pioneers while creating a thriving future for generations to come.
Thank you for your partnership. We would not be the University we are today without you, our community.
The Dixie State University Board of Trustees’ recommended name for the university, Utah Tech University, appears on apparel and athletic jerseys in logo renderings that are not final. The university will undergo a comprehensive process to create official logos.
Dixie State University's Strategic Plan
Trailblazing Distinction, Dixie State’s strategic plan that is guiding the University’s growth from 2020 to 2025, outlines the institution’s plan for becoming the nation’s first and only open, inclusive, comprehensive, polytechnic university.
Dixie Name Impact Study
The Dixie Name Impact Study was conducted by Cicero Group during the Fall 2020 semester to understand interpretations of Dixie, quantify the reception of perspectives, and measure impacts and implications.
Name Exploration Survey
The Name Exploration Survey was administered by Love Communications to 14,449 community members during the Spring 2021 semester to identify the most important considerations in selecting a name and determine common patterns among name themes.
Initial Focus Group Findings
Focus Group Findings share the results from the 47 focus group discussions with more than 300 key stakeholders that Love Communications conducted.
Final Focus Group Findings and Name Recommendation
After the themes were narrowed down to academic mission and Utah, Love Communications conducted a dozen focus groups that involved nearly 150 students and other key stakeholders. At the completion of this round of focus groups, Love made name recommendations to the Name Recommendation Committee.
House Bill 278
House Bill 278, Name Change Process for Dixie State University outlines the criteria the Name Recommendation Committee should follow to recommend an institutional name.
Name Recommendation Timeline
July 2020: DSU announces it will gather information regarding the Dixie State University name.
During the summer of 2020, many institutions around the world announce changes to their brands due to direct or implied connections with the Confederate South or other symbols of racial inequality. DSU decides to not make any changes at that time, but announces in July 2020 they will be “closely monitoring the situation, actively gathering information and assessing all viable options to ensure the campus is a welcoming environment to all.”
September 2020: DSU partners with the Cicero Group to gather initial data regarding the impacts of the Dixie name on DSU students, alumni, employees, and partners.
Following the July announcement, the DSU administration meets personally with hundreds of community members to better understand the impacts of the name “Dixie” as part of the institutional name. From these discussions, DSU announces in September 2020 it will be “partnering with Cicero Group, an independent research firm headquartered in Salt Lake City, to conduct comprehensive research to help the institution and its governing bodies understand the positive and negative impacts of continuing to include ‘Dixie’ in the University’s name.” The Cicero study continues for three months and includes thousands of participants.
December 2020: DSU Board of Trustees and Utah Board of Higher Education unanimously recommend a name change to the Utah Legislature.
Based on the results of the comprehensive impact study, the DSU Board of Trustees and the Utah Board of Higher Education unanimously recommend a name process to the Utah State Legislature. Additionally, the recommendations are supported by DSU’s Cabinet, University Council, Student Executive Council, Staff Association Board, and Faculty Senate.
March 2021: Utah State Legislature passes House Bill 278S01.
Following the unanimous recommendation from the DSU Board of Trustees and the Utah Board of Higher Education to review DSU’s name, in March 2020 the Utah legislature passes House Bill 278S01 in support of a name recommendation process. The legislation tasks the DSU Board of Trustees in collaboration with the Utah Board of Higher Education with creating a committee to identify a name for the university that “reflects the institution’s mission and significance to the surrounding region and state and enables the institution to compete and be recognized nationally.” DSU Board of Trustees identifies Love Communications as the third-party consultant to assist with the process.
March 2021: The Name Recommendation Committee is formed.
The Dixie State University Board of Trustees votes to approve the Name Recommendation Committee membership, instructions, timeline, and process, laying the foundation for the committee to start its work.
March 2021: The Name Recommendation Committee starts its listening tour.
The chair and other members of the Name Recommendation Committee hold town hall listening meetings, consulting with stakeholders from across the community including the Defending Southwestern Utah Heritage Coalition, Chamber of Commerce, local business leaders, various student groups, and University faculty and staff.
April 2021: Love Communications creates and distributes a name survey.
April 2021: The Name Recommendation Committee reviews all available data.
May 2021: Love Communications presents the final name themes to community focus groups.
Hundreds of community members are presented with the data collected during Love’s survey as well as positive and negative potential impacts of names within each theme group. Factors focus groups will be asked to take into consideration include trademarks, acronyms, other meanings, similarly named institutions, etc.
June 2021: Love presents focus group data to the Name Recommendation Committee.
During a committee meeting, Love Communications shares insights gathered from focus group participants, including remarks sharing support and concerns about each theme. Love’s report is available here.
June 2021: The Name Recommendation Committee narrows down themes.
After carefully considering the feedback provided from the focus groups, the NRC goes through a rigorous process of narrowing down the name themes to the academic mission and Utah themes. The committee deeply considers all factors of name possibilities within these two themes and presents the name ideas to stakeholders through another round of focus groups.
June 2021: Love Communications presents the final two name themes to focus groups.
Love conducts a dozen focus group discussions that involve nearly 150 key stakeholders, such as students and decision makers. Focus group discussions center on the final themes of academic mission and Utah and specific name ideas.
June 2021: The Name Recommendation Committee selects one name to recommend.
Heavily weighing the information gathered in all previous steps, the NRC narrows the specific name ideas to one name and recommends the name Utah Polytech State University and the nickname Utah Tech.
June 2021: The Name Recommendation Committee recommends a name to the Board of Trustees.
The committee presents its name recommendation to the DSU Board of Trustees in an open public meeting, where the board votes to recommend the name Utah Tech University to the Utah Board of Higher Education. The Trustees must ensure the name recommendation reflects the institution’s mission and significance to the surrounding region and state and enables the institution to compete and be recognized nationally, per the requirements of House Bill 278.
Time To Be Determined: The Utah Board of Higher Education votes on the name recommendation.
The Utah Board of Higher Education is presented with the name recommendation and chooses whether to forward the recommendation to the Utah State Legislature’s Legislative Management Committee.
Time To Be Determined: The Utah State Legislature is presented with a name recommendation.
Legislators will vote on whether to formalize the new name after being presented with the considerations that went into the recommendation. The recommendation must receive a majority vote from both the House and Senate as well as the governor’s approval in order to become law.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What factors have the Name Recommendation Committee considered throughout the name recommendation process?
Most collegiate school names fall within one of three categories: founder/historical names, location identifier names, and academic mission names. Although there are limited options for the name of a university, there are countless considerations. Each potential institutional name was expected to meet certain requirements outlined in House Bill 278 along with other vital considerations such as trademark, availability, double meanings, acronyms, and more. For example, popular name options included Desert State University, St. George University, and Deseret State University. However, St. George’s University already exists, Desert State University is currently trademarked by Marvel, and the definition of Deseret is tied squarely to a religious organization that many felt was not suitable for a public, state funded university. These are just a few example of the many considerations reviewed by the naming committee. Ultimately, the committee worked to secure a name that would recognize our area (Utah), reflect our mission (a polytechnic focus), and help the university compete nationally as outlined in HB 278. Although these considerations were important to the decision, the most critical factor was to secure a name that would best assist our students and alumni in securing employment after graduation.
Does recommending a name with Tech in it narrow the program offerings or eliminate opportunities for humanities or liberal arts students?
No. As part of our new academic mission, we are working toward being the nation’s first and only open, inclusive, comprehensive, polytechnic university. Simply put, polytechnic means applied learning opportunities that prepare students to graduate career-ready in all disciplines. There are models throughout the nation that demonstrate this. For example, Virginia Tech and Cal Poly have robust humanities and arts programs. Additionally, MIT has the leading Modern Languages program in the nation. Based on feedback they received, the Board of Trustees shortened “Polytechnic” to “Tech” in their recommendation in line with best practices among other polytechnic institutions.
Has the Name Recommendation Committee and other approving bodies considered popular names such as Desert State University, St. George University, Red Rock University, or Zion University?
Yes. Stakeholder feedback is very important to consider when naming an institution but is not the only consideration. Other considerations include factors such as trademarks, uniqueness, connotations, and direction from the Utah State Legislature, Utah State Board of Higher Education, and DSU Board of Trustees. When taking these factors into consideration, these names don’t work.
Desert State University is trademarked by Marvel due to Bruce Banner attending a fictional university by this name in The Incredible Hulk comic books. Because it’s trademarked, DSU can’t use it.
St. George’s University is the name of a medical school in Grenada, so there could be confusion between the two institutions if DSU were to adopt St. George University as a name. Plus, St. George’s University already owns URLS and other assets DSU would need. Additionally, using a city name rather than a state name makes the university feel smaller than it is and appear to serve only a small population of people. Also, at first reference, the name could be mistaken for a Catholic institution, not an open-enrollment one.
As a geographic/geological name, Red Rock University was ranked 4th out of 6 themes by the focus groups. Red Rocks didn’t fall under the location theme because red rocks aren’t unique to Southern Utah. For example, Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado is well known and fills the first page of search results when Red Rocks is Googled. Additionally, focus groups indicated that Red Rocks did not sound like an esteemed academic institution.
Similarly, the focus groups indicated that Zion didn’t sound academic and also had religious connotations and could make the University sound like a private, religious institution.
Has the University actively acquired URLS associated with possible future institutional names?
Yes. It is best practice before announcing even a potential name change to secure domain names so others can’t. Large organizations are often targeted when they announce they are looking into changing their names; popular domain names can go for tens of thousands of dollars. We acted proactively to ensure this didn’t happen to us. We purchased any available domain name we thought could be a possible name option.
How did the University release logo renderings so soon after the Board of Trustees' name recommendation?
The renderings of Utah Tech University apparel that the University released the day of the Trustees’ vote are quick and basic mock-ups based on the ones included in Love Communications’ June 14, 2021, Focus Group Report. In this report, Love included mock-ups of multiple names to help the Name Recommendation Committee and focus groups visualize possible logos.
What are the next steps in this process and when can we expect a final decision?
On June 29, 2021, the DSU Board of Trustees voted to forward the name of Utah Tech University to the Utah Board of Higher Education, who will then vote whether to forward the recommendation to the Utah State Legislature. If that happens, legislators will vote on the new name in an upcoming legislative session. To our knowledge, the Utah Board has not finalized a time to meet, discuss, and potentially vote on this matter, but all of their meetings follow the Utah Open and Public Meeting Act and will be publicly announced.
Legislation requires us to have a name recommendation ready for the Utah State Legislature by November.
With a number of community members in favor of keeping the Dixie name, why was the Dixie theme not chosen to move forward for consideration?
A good brand name should have nearly zero negative issues. However, with the Dixie name, 22 percent of recent graduates indicated on the Cicero Group survey that they have had issues with the Dixie name when searching for jobs outside of Utah.
While stakeholder feedback was taken very seriously throughout the name recommendation process, it is important to realize that branding decisions are not made on a majority-rules system. There are considerations like trademark, availability, connotations, and other factors the general public does not take into consideration.
Additionally, in the focus group survey results, Dixie ranked fifth out of the six theme options. In the community survey, less than half of all participants indicated they’d like to retain the Dixie State University name.
Was the community involved in the name recommendation process?
Yes. House Bill 278S01, Name Change Process for Dixie State University, charges the University’s Board of Trustees with forming a name change committee comprised of community members and industry leaders in addition to students and university personnel. Additionally, the committee collaborated with residents of southwestern Utah, institutional partners, and university faculty, staff, students, and alumni in the recommendation process. From town hall listening meetings and focus groups to the impact study and community survey, the Name Recommendation Committee received 20,000 responses.
Who is on the Name Recommendation Committee and how were members chosen?
The Dixie State University Board of Trustees, in consultation with the Utah Board of Higher Education, selected a variety of students, university personnel, community members, and industry leaders who represent a wide variety of the University’s stakeholders. Each member of the committee represents at least one stakeholder group, including, but not limited to, those groups statutorily mandated to be represented, mentioned above.
Name Recommendation Committee members and the stakeholder group(s) they represent are:
- Chair Julie Beck (DSU Board of Trustees; industry leader; alumni)
- Vice Chair Shawn Newell (Utah System of Higher Education; industry leader)
- Bruce Hurst (industry leader; alumni)
- Danny Ipson (community; industry leader; alumni)
- Michael Lacourse (university administration)
- Susan Ertel (faculty representative)
- Deven Macdonald (DSU Board of Trustees; industry leader)
- Patricia Jones (Utah System of Higher Education; industry leader)
- Penny Mills (student)
- Deven Osborne (student)
- Megan Church (staff representative; alumni)
- Chip Childs (community; industry leader)
- Jordon Sharp (university marketing)
- Darcy Stewart (community; industry leader)
- Terri Draper (community; industry leader; alumni)
- Randy Wilkinson (community; industry leader; alumni)
- Ralph Atkin (community; industry leader; alumni)
- Connor Shakespeare (community; industry leader; alumni)
Is it really necessary for the University to look into changing its name?
If the Dixie name wasn’t negatively affecting students’ success or the University’s ability to continue to recruit students, the University wouldn’t pursue a name change. We fully understand how rebrands can be arduous, expensive, and can wage a toll on campus communities. However, Cicero Group’s study indicated that 22% of recent graduates looking for jobs outside of Utah have had an employer express concern that Dixie is on their résumé. Additionally, we learned that 42% of respondents from our recruiting region and 27% of alumni indicated that the Dixie name has a negative impact on their willingness to attend DSU or encourage a student to do so. Data such as this made it impossible for us to ignore.
As a community college that primarily served Utah students, the Dixie name was linked to our geography and served as a description of where in Utah the institution is located. Now that we recruit students and faculty from all across the nation — and have an expanding national presence — the name is confusing, leading many to believe we are located in the South.
As the University continues to grow and gain attention on a national level by competing in NCAA Division I athletics, recruiting students, faculty, and staff from all over the country, and participating in national conferences and symposiums, the institution will only receive increased attention on the name. In fact, 45% of faculty and staff indicate that when they meet others in the academic field, they assume DSU is in the South. Attention on the University name rather than the University itself only detracts from the University’s mission, offerings, and accomplishments.
From a branding perspective, the University faces a significant problem. A brand’s most powerful conduit is its own people. Of our students, alumni, faculty, and staff — those who are most familiar with the institution and consequently should be the proudest of it — 28% are uncomfortable wearing the name Dixie on apparel when outside of Utah. Understanding that a strong brand name is typically embraced by nearly 100% of stakeholders, having over a quarter of our people purposely shy away from sharing our brand is a major red flag that needs immediate attention. Additionally, a national retail store and longtime licensing partner recently told DSU they will no longer sell our merchandise due to the Dixie name.
Is the name Dixie really hurting students and alumni?
The Cicero study indicates that 22% of recent graduates looking for jobs outside of Utah have had an employer express concern that Dixie is on their résumé. As preparing students for the careers of their dreams is at the very core of the University’s mission, retaining a name that has negatively impacted the job search process for more than 1 in every 5 of our alumni would be doing them an incredible disservice. In competitive job markets, it’s crucial that a DSU education gives graduates a competitive advantage rather than present an obstacle they must overcome.
Data also shows the name will hinder our ability to get students on campus to participate in DSU’s unique “active learning. active life.” experience. In fact, 41% of out-of-state prospective students think keeping the name Dixie will have a negative impact on recruiting.
The strength of the education offered at DSU is dependent on the quality of faculty we employ. Due to the nature of specialized credentials needed to work in a university setting, there is a limited pool of qualified job candidates in the region, so it is necessary to recruit faculty and staff from all across the nation. If the name precluded candidates from out of state from applying for DSU jobs, then the University struggles to fill positions as we continue to grow and the teaching and learning experience will suffer, which will lead to decreased enrollment. Almost half (49%) of current faculty and staff think keeping the name Dixie will have a negative impact on recruiting new faculty and staff.
Additionally, the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, our accrediting body, recently added a heavy emphasis on inclusion and diversity to their accrediting process, which could affect our score in the future. Although the NWCCU recently granted DSU’s accreditation for seven more years, of the four major commendations for the University, looking into changing our name was among them.
Since the study results indicate that a majority of stakeholders are in favor of retaining Dixie in the University’s name, why is the University recommending a name change to the Utah Board of Higher Education?
At first glance, the data seem to provide a compelling reason to retain the Dixie name, with a majority of the Southern Utah community (75%) and 55% of all study respondents in favor of keeping it. However, branding decisions are not made on a majority-rules system, as a strong brand name should be accepted by nearly 100% of stakeholders. It’s important to realize that 16% of our community, 29% of current students, 48% of faculty and staff, 24% of alumni, and 30% of prospective students feel the name will negatively impact the brand of the institution. A brand name should not be a problem at all. Rather, a good brand name will only lift an organization’s reputation and exposure. This study asked nothing about our academic reputation or any other component of the educational experience offered at Dixie. For these populations, the University’s name alone deters them from the institution.
The name doesn’t seem to be holding back the institution, as it has recently experienced growth. Why is a change being recommended now?
In addition to gaining University status, the incredible growth DSU has experienced over the last five years — adding 111 academic programs and increasing the student body by 41 percent, for example — is the reason why a name change is being recommended. However, issues involving the name are increasing in ways that have not impacted the institution and its students in the past. In the past year alone, our institutional name has negatively impacted scholarship opportunities, partnerships, donations, recruiting, lending, merchandising, graduate school acceptance, and job placement.
As DSU continues to grow and serve both our local community as well as students from other areas, it is important to have a name that is not only inclusive but also avoids any confusion about the location of the institution. By continuing to grow, more opportunities will become available at the University, offering local and national students alike optimal learning experiences, career preparation, and the skills necessary to meet workforce demands particularly as large companies look to move to this region.
In addition, the number of students graduating from high schools nationwide will drop considerably during the coming years. All institutions of higher learning are carefully working to eliminate any competitive disadvantages in preparation for this highly competitive recruiting environment.
Why can’t the Dixie name be retained since all of the University’s ties to the Confederacy have been severed?
The University is committed to ensuring all individuals are welcomed, safe, and valued members of Trailblazer Nation. Because the institution has used Confederate language and symbols in the past, it is important the University makes a clear declaration that we do not stand for what these symbols represent. Furthermore, the word Dixie still is synonymous to the Confederacy to many. According to Cicero findings, 33% of Southern Utah residents, 41% of Utahns, and 64% of respondents from our recruiting region indicated that Dixie means the South/Confederacy to them.
As we grow into an open, inclusive, comprehensive polytechnic university that recruits students, faculty, and staff from all over the nation, it is important we have a brand that represents who we are and where we’re going.
Does DSU understand the name Dixie is cherished in our region?
Dixie State University is a product of the remarkable Southern Utah community. While the University understands that the local meaning of Dixie embodies the region’s pioneering heritage of grit, service, and sacrifice, we also acknowledge that the term evokes negative connotations associated with discrimination and intolerance to others around the nation. As much as we all love our community and heritage, we should not ask students to use a name that could potentially hurt them in the future. Student success is our number one priority, just as it has always been.
Will the University changing its name lead to other local organizations facing pressure to remove Dixie from their names?
The local use of Dixie, included in the name of 150 businesses in the area, has always honored the region’s pioneers without tying to the Confederate South. However, Dixie State hurt the local meaning when it introduced Confederate symbols in the 1950s. While local, private businesses with Dixie in their names can declare that their brand identity is not connected to Confederate ideology and never has been, the University, a public institution, unfortunately, cannot make the same assertions. Furthermore, most local companies serve a local audience who understand and embrace the local meaning of the name Dixie. DSU’s students come from all over the country and then graduate and work all over the country. While private businesses typically have a niche customer base, Dixie State University is a public institution with a responsibility to serve the broader public.
What will happen to the D on the Hill and the Dixie on the Sugarloaf should DSU change their name?
Currently, DSU owns and maintains the D on the Hill and the City of St. George owns and maintains the Dixie Sugarloaf at Pioneer Park. DSU has no desire to take-away or alter the D on the Hill, and the city has no plans to remove Dixie from the large sugarloaf rock. As has been shared, we honor and respect the local meaning of Dixie. In that spirit, and with the support of the City of St. George, we are in the process of applying to have the D on the Hill and the Dixie Sugarloaf be included on the National Register of Historic Places. Our goal is to ensure these landmarks remain honored symbols for our entire community. We plan to use the D-light capabilities to celebrate not only DSU accomplishments, but also feature local high schools’ colors when they win state championships in addition to recognizing holidays, traditions, initiatives, and more. For example, when Dixie High School wins a championship, we will change the D blue, and when Snow Canyon wins, the D will proudly shine gold and green.
How will DSU honor the Southern Utah heritage and the institutional founders if the name changes?
The lasting contributions our community and founders have continuously made since the institution’s founding in 1911 are not lost on us. Our campus is located where the founders of our city set up their encampment mall and even taught out of the back of their covered wagons; we already honor this on our campus with a statue garden and will continue to do so with student traditions.
The success we are experiencing today is possible due to the countless sacrifices and achievements of those who have supported our University throughout the years. In recognition of this, our recent athletic rebrand from the Red Storm to the Trailblazers was specifically designed to better honor our heritage. We will remain the Trailblazers on the court and field as well in the classroom, community, and workplace. We will keep the Trailblazing spirit at the center of everything we do. Nearly every tradition, story, and feeling regarding our heritage can be enjoyed under the Trailblazer identity. Songs and other traditions that honor Dixie as the nickname of Southern Utah will continue to be sung and recognized on campus. As discussed, we will continue to maintain and honor the D on the Hill, and we will continue to share our history during our first-year experience classes, Freshman Friday, and other traditional events.
In addition, the Utah Legislature has committed to allocate $500,000 to a Heritage Committee to implement strategies to preserve the heritage, culture, and history of the region on the campus if the institutional name changes from Dixie.
Why is the name offensive to some, when it is so positive in our area?
We respect, understand, and love the regional meaning of Dixie that refers to the cotton mission and means pioneer heritage, camaraderie, grit, sacrifice, and service. However, beyond our regional borders, the term Dixie means something different and often stirs negative connotations associated with discrimination and intolerance. In fact, 33% of Southern Utah residents, 41% of Utahns, and 64% of respondents from our recruiting region indicated that to them, Dixie means the South/Confederacy and what it stands for.
Although several meanings of Dixie exist, throughout our nation, today the term Dixie is most commonly associated with the old South and Confederate states – the eleven Southern states that seceded from the United States in 1860 to form the new Confederate States of America. Dixie was essentially considered the land south of the Mason-Dixon line, where slavery was legal. Because slavery was at the center of the Civil War and a deep fracture in our country’s history, for some, the term Dixie stirs up derogatory connotations of discrimination and intolerance. As a public, open-enrollment institution, it is in our mission and values to be welcoming and accepting of our students.
We acknowledge that the institution used symbols and terms related to the Confederacy in the past. We apologize for this and recognize that such use was insensitive.
With multiple rebrands over the years, why is the institution rebranding again?
As Dixie State has gone through the process of growing from a community college to a comprehensive university, the athletic and institutional brands have had to grow along with the institution. As a result, it was necessary for DSU to study our brand and ensure it accurately represented the institution and its planned growth at that time. Because the Red Storm athletic identity did not resonate with the campus community or pay homage to our history and founders, it was necessary to rebrand the athletic identity to accomplish this important goal. Previous rebrands were conducted with the goal of retaining the Dixie name because of the importance it holds to the community and University. However, now that Cicero’s impact study has indicated that 48% of faculty and staff, 30% of prospective students, 29% of students, 24% of alumni, and 16% of community members feel the name will negatively impact the brand of the institution, it is clear that the name will continue to be problematic and needs to be directly addressed.
Is a move to change the University’s name reactive?
Discussions surrounding whether the University should retain the Dixie name have been taking place long before the “cancel culture” mentality rose to prevalence. In fact, in 2013, when the institution gained university status, questions about the name were raised, and the University commissioned an impact study at that time. Then, the results indicated that it was not the right time for a change, but the study did suggest that if the University were to obtain a more national presence, it would need to highly consider a name change. With the institution’s continued growth since that time and increase in recruiting students, faculty, and staff from across the country, we need our name to accurately represent our vision for the future.
While DSU was still working through our 2015-2020 strategic plan, which guided the university from university status to university stature, the administration began formulating the next plan. Our latest strategic plan is highly focused on creating an academic direction that will set us apart from the 5,300 other institutions of higher education in the U.S. As the University’s Strategic Plan Steering Committee began looking into becoming an open, inclusive, comprehensive polytechnic university, it became clear that working toward this mission certainly would set Dixie State apart, as there currently are no other institutions in the country that satisfy all four elements of the mission.
Of all 3,255 respondents, when asked what factors are the most important to the future success of the University, the top four responses were academic reputation of the University, making the University a welcoming/inclusive place for all, enabling students to obtain jobs after graduation, and growing its reputation as a STEM-focused polytechnic institution.
As DSU begins adopting its new polytechnic academic focus, it is important the University’s name is befitting of a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)-focused institution. With our polytechnic mission focused on preparing students for careers of the future, the institution needs a name that will help us attract, recruit, maintain, and graduate the best and brightest students.
What is a polytechnic university, and why is that term being used to describe DSU?
A polytechnic education is characterized by active and applied learning opportunities in the classroom and through industry partnerships, career development, and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM)-focused academic programs integrated with liberal arts and sciences.
In preparation for our 2020-2025 strategic plan, DSU has been working for the last five years on building the infrastructure necessary to become a polytechnic university. As part of this, we have added 111 new academic programs, emphasized the “active learning. active life.” approach to education, and opened Atwood Innovation Plaza, Southern Utah’s hub for entrepreneurism and innovation.
As an open, inclusive, comprehensive polytechnic university, Dixie State will be committed to expanding our capacity to offer affordable, active, and meaningful educational opportunities and preparing a highly skilled workforce for our growing region and state. Even as we implement new cutting-edge polytechnic programs, Dixie State will remain a comprehensive university and continue to offer a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate programs that integrate a liberal arts education and engage the community.
In line with our mission to be an inclusive university, Dixie State will help diverse individuals learn and succeed by offering a variety of inclusive teaching methods that resonate with all students. As an open institution, we will continue to remove any obstacles that traditionally block students from earning an education while making our resources available to anyone who seeks them.
Is rebranding the University responsible stewardship of taxpayer dollars?
As a state institution, we strive to use all state resources conservatively and responsibly. We’ll work collaboratively with state leaders to keep costs as low as possible. Rebranding is never taken lightly because it is often expensive and no organization wants to lose brand equity. At times, however, the cost of not rebranding can be much greater. For example, the data shows 24% of white, 27% of non-white, and 43% of African American prospective students say the name Dixie has a negative impact on their willingness to attend the school. Additionally, the research shows that the name itself would prevent 36% of out-of-state, recent alumni from referring others to DSU. With these data points and others provided in the report, it is easy to see how in a short amount of time, the cost of not changing could be far greater than the costs associated with a rebrand.
Does the University understand that if the name is changed, some may choose not to support the University?
Results from the Cicero study indicate that 2/3 of alumni who graduated prior to 2009 would consider reducing their support if the name of the University changes, which is very difficult to learn. We understand that any movement to change the name of Dixie State University could lead community members and supporters to distance themselves from the University. While this prospect concerns and saddens us, we have a deep obligation to help foster our students’ success. Looking out for the best interest of our current and future students, in this case by ensuring their employment prospects are not hindered by the name of the alma mater listed on their résumés, needs to be our top priority. It is our hope that all alumni will eventually see that no one is attempting to take away their history or memories. We simply aim to build a legacy that will help both the institution and our students reach their full potential.
Love Communications’ Community Survey requires me to pick more options than I would like to select. Won’t me including options that are not truly my favorite skew the results?
The Community Survey was designed to understand potential names for the University from a broad scope of understanding, meaning that while specific names are required to be selected throughout the survey, the general goal of the study is to understand what naming patterns and general themes emerge as the most important to people in a name. We understand that this entails some questions’ wordings and response requirements that don’t completely align with how some individuals may wish to respond to the survey, but please note that when the data is analyzed, the results will only be relayed in a fashion that focuses on thematic takeaways and not on the prevalence of specific naming choices or opinions therein. In order to come upon these broad conclusions, we need individuals to answer with multiple names they prefer from a broader pool to avoid a scenario in which we don’t receive a broad understanding of potential names to utilize from too people only selecting one favorite name and ignoring all others. Again, this is because naming themes are the focus of the study, otherwise, too much attention will be paid to singular names.
In addition, please understand that this survey data will be combined with qualitative data from numerous focus groups that will be held in the coming weeks.
What were the results of Cicero Group’s research?
Cicero Group used a multi-directional approach to conduct more than 100 in-depth interviews and focus groups across various populations in addition to administering a survey to more than 3,000 respondents. Through these efforts, Cicero discovered a number of key findings. The results indicate that at least a quarter of each population identified has concerns with the name Dixie for a four-year institution of higher learning in today’s world. In addition to racial implications, the name leads to confusion and uncertainty about the University’s location. Overall, the Dixie name is affecting the University’s ability to recruit students and employees, graduates’ ability to secure a job, and faculty and staff’s ability to secure external funding. Additionally, 30% of those surveyed from Utah and 39% of those surveyed from outside of Utah believe that keeping Dixie in the name will have a negative impact on the University’s reputation. The study measured a number of metrics that led University administration to recommend a name change to the Utah Board of Higher Education. Review the study in its entirety here.
Who is Cicero Group, and can their work be trusted?
Cicero Group is one the nation’s premier data collection and consulting firms specializing in data-driven strategies for a broad mix of private, public, and social sector organizations. Cicero Group is headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah. Cicero assists clients in 49 countries including brands such as Boeing, Intermountain Health Care, Cisco, George W. Bush Institute, Hitachi, Rio Tinto, Symantec, and many more. Cicero was named the “No. 43 Fastest Growing Firm in North America” in 2018 by Consulting magazine, ranked as a “Top 50 Consulting Firm,” the “No. 12 Boutique Consulting Firm”, and the “No. 40 Overall Consulting Firm” by Vault in 2018, and has received eight consecutive Utah “Best of State” awards.
In addition, the well-respected, locally owned and operated Dan Jones & Associates firm, a political polling and market research firm based in Salt Lake City, became a subsidiary of Cicero Group in 2010.
Why did you commission a survey when you had already conducted one in 2013?
It was important to DSU administration to determine if the name is in fact hindering our students’ ability to secure jobs after graduating, as successfully preparing Trailblazers for the careers of their dreams is at the core of our mission. To accomplish this, it was important the University had comprehensive, up-to-date data. DSU commissioned Cicero Group to conduct more than 100 in-depth interviews and focus groups across various populations in addition to administering a survey to more than 3,000 respondents using a multi-directional approach. Where the 2013 study only surveyed the local community, for this study, Cicero engaged with a wide variety of stakeholders including the local community, students, faculty, staff, alumni, prospective students, prospective faculty and staff, donors, NCAA representatives, accrediting bodies, branding professionals, and more. To cover the expenses of the $98,500 study, DSU used funds from internal revenues generated by business services; no tuition, taxpayer, or donated dollars were used for the survey. While we recognize that a significant amount of resources were used on the study, it was critical to DSU to secure this data so we can confidently make decisions that will best serve our students well into the future.
In the News
New name for Dixie State properly looks to the future, Editorial Board writes
It’s time to support the proposed new name for Dixie State
Change Dixie State name, 65% of focus group participants say — but don’t call it Deseret
Dixie State University may not be able to change its name as Republicans in the Utah Senate delay hearings
Richard B. Williams: Dixie State University’s name must change for students’ benefit
‘A brand should never hurt’: Dixie State University hosts discussion on ‘Dixie’ name change
‘Now I can hoop’: Dixie State basketball players grateful the school could change its name
Utah university board votes to drop ‘Dixie’ from name after recent grads worried it affected job prospects
Read the report that helped DSU officials decide to drop ‘Dixie’ from the school’s name
‘We all have connections here’: Dixie State president, stakeholders speak on university name change
Dixie State University trustees recommend removing ‘Dixie’ from school’s name
Trustees vote to drop ‘Dixie’ from Dixie State University name
Utah College Votes To Nix Confederate-Tied ‘Dixie’ From Name
Confederate flags, mock slave auctions, minstrel shows: Can Utah’s ‘Dixie’ be separated from past associations?