Arguments for and against renaming Dixie State University during special session

Nov 9, 2021, 8:50 PM

(The DSU "Road Scholar" bus parked at the Capitol for the special session.  Photo: Paul Nelson, Nov...

(The DSU "Road Scholar" bus parked at the Capitol for the special session. Photo: Paul Nelson, November 9, 2021)

(The DSU "Road Scholar" bus parked at the Capitol for the special session. Photo: Paul Nelson, November 9, 2021)

SALT LAKE CITY – Some intense emotions and heated discussion happened Tuesday on Utah’s Capitol Hill as people on both sides debated renaming Dixie State University.  Supporters of the name change say it will help graduates looking for work, while critics says it’s fixing a problem that doesn’t exist.

Many officials and students with Dixie State University say the name is becoming a problem for them once they graduate.  Some students say they know the term “Dixie” doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing as in other states, but the connection the word has with being sympathetic to the southern states during the Civil War is prominent outside of Utah.  One DSU athletics official told the Interim Education Committee that students are declining scholarships because of that word.

“There are student-athletes that have said no to us and don’t want to be recruited and don’t want to come here because of the name,” he said.

Renaming Dixie State University

The bill allowing the school to choose a new name was signed earlier this year, and DSU Name Recommendation Committee Chair Julie Beck says the instructions set out by the legislature were followed to the letter.  She also said the new name, Utah Tech University, got unanimous support from student groups, faculty, the Board of Trustees and the Utah System of Higher Education.

Beck said, “I have overseen many complex and important projects.  However, there is nothing I have participated in during my life that I feel better about than the process that was undertaken to fulfill House Bill 278.”

Danny Ipson, DSU Board of Trustees member, became emotional while speaking about his alma mater.  He said he understood the deep sense of identity that comes with the name “Dixie,” but he also believes changing it will make life easier for graduates.

“By supporting an institutional name change, as mentioned before, it should not, in any way, be perceived as changing history or wiping away the rich heritage that we enjoy in our community,” Ipson said.

Heated words on both sides

During the public comment period, sharp words were traded between both sides.  One supporter of the name Utah Tech University accused people opposing the change of being “selfish” and “conceited.”  Opponents of the change said comments like that were “immature.”

Some St. George residents told the committee they had no business deciding what the school’s name should be.

One woman said, “You people in this room have no skin in the game.”

Others question the claims that employers are refusing to hire DSU graduates because of its name, adding that they’ve been able to get jobs all over the country without anyone raising any concerns.  Some residents say removing the name “Dixie” will cause bad blood between the university and southern Utah residents.

“If you change the name of this school, you are doing damage to the community that can never be resolved,” one woman said.

That sentiment was echoed by Washington County Commissioner Victor Iverson.

“It will cause a permanent rift and damage with the relationship between the university and the community that supported it,” according to Iverson.

House Bill 2001 was not brought up on the House floor during the first day of this special session.  Both the House and the Senate are expected to vote on the bill Wednesday.

Read more:

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Education + Schools

Childcare unaffordable...

Eric Cabrera

Unaffordable childcare plagues Utah families

Childcare in Utah is becoming unaffordable for many Utah parents as costs for care are outpacing inflation.

9 hours ago

students celebrate utah sports championship, international students in question with utah rules...

Amy Donaldson

Utah proposes ban on some international students in high school sports

A proposed new rule before the Utah High School Activities Association would bar international students from playing varsity sports in the state next year. 

13 hours ago

Natalie Cline attends the monthly meeting for the Utah State Board of Education, the first since th...

Lindsay Aerts

LISTEN: Utah School Board member Natalie Cline loses GOP convention bid

Controversial Utah State School Board member Natalie Cline lost her bid for reelection in District 9.

4 days ago

An American Fork third-grade teacher is well-known for transforming his classroom into his own vers...

Eric Cabrera

American Fork third-grade teacher transforms classroom into Hogwarts

An American Fork third-grade teacher is well-known for transforming his classroom into his own version of Harry Potter's Hogwarts.

5 days ago

byu mark pope shown...

Allessandra Harris Gurr

BYU students react to Mark Pope’s move to Kentucky

BYU men's basketball head coach Mark Pope will leave for Kentucky, but some students think the team will be ok.

5 days ago

Unique theater design...

Michael Camit

New, unique theater thriving in historic University of Utah building

Meldrum Theatre is a new, unique theater at the University of Utah. The design creates an engaging audience experience.

5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.


Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Arguments for and against renaming Dixie State University during special session