ST. GEORGE – As a part of its strategic plan announced last month, Dixie State University has commissioned an Identity Committee to oversee the rebranding of the school’s nickname and mascot.
The committee consists of individuals representing Dixie State University’s alumni, students, Athletics Department, faculty, staff, administration and community.
“A strong identity allows an organization to more effectively tell its story,” Dr. Jordon Sharp, director of student involvement and leadership at DSU, said in a statement Monday. Sharp is also a member of the Identity Committee. “Dixie State University has a rich history, an incredibly bright future and an amazing story to tell, and it deserves an identity that will articulate its unique message.”
The school’s current institutional nickname and mascot are the Red Storm and Big “D” the Bull.
“The research overwhelmingly demonstrates that the current identity is confusing and a more authentic brand is not only desired, but much needed,” Sharp said.
Rebranding the school’s identity is one of six points laid out in a five-year strategic plan called Dixie 2020, which DSU President Richard Williams introduced to the public in September.
“The goal is to establish a strong brand and identity for the university,” according to a DSU news release concerning the plan. “This will be accomplished by highlighting the unique aspects of the university’s academic programs and location, strengthening the athletics program and forging more alliances with businesses, alumni, and community members.”
DSU’s Identity Committee will be working with Utah-based Love Communications to establish the school’s new identity and mascot.
“Although mascots, nicknames and colors are subjective, I believe we will discover an identity that is clear, authentic, and distinct and that successfully tells the great story of Dixie State University,” Sharp said.
Official name remains
Based on the data collected from the research, DSU’s new nickname and mascot will not include any current or past identities, DSU officials said in a press release.
Though a new nickname and mascot will be rolled out, the formal name of the school remains Dixie State University.
Controversy over the name of the institution has been raised in recent years as some groups have sought to have the school’s name changed when it was made a university in early 2013.
While locals associate the Dixie name with the area’s history which they say has nothing to do with the Confederacy or slavery, others disagree, including a psychology professor who currently teaches at the university.
Earlier this year, Dannelle Larson-Rife wrote a guest editorial in The Spectrum that rekindled discussion over the school’s name. For her, the Dixie name relates to slavery and racism – something that a public institution of higher learning looking to expand shouldn’t be associated with.
Some among the community and Dixie Alumni staunchly defend the name regardless of how others choose to see it.
Dixie 2020: DSU’s strategic plan
As previously stated, the rebranding of the school’s nickname and mascot are a part Dixie 2020, a six-point strategic plan officially rolled out in September.
“I am so proud of the plan we produced — not only does it lay out a bright future for Dixie State University, but it also is a great example of what can be achieved when the entire community works together,” Williams said. “Dixie 2020 is not my strategic plan; it is the entire community’s vision for the future of our university.”
The six-points of the Dixie 2020 plan are outlined as followed:
The first goal is to promote student success and increase retention and completion rates at all degree levels. To reach this goal, Dixie will develop academically focused recruitment approaches, increase faculty members’ roles in student retention, and create processes that provide students with access to more educational opportunities.
The second goal is to broaden and enhance academic programs to facilitate growth. This will be accomplished by developing new areas of study, creating the School of Interdisciplinary Innovation to promote excellence, and improving the quality and method of course delivery.
The third goal is to invest in faculty and staff recruitment, retention, and development. The university will accomplish this in part by maximizing professional development opportunities.
The fourth goal is to promote the success of underrepresented faculty, staff, and students by enhancing support for inclusion and equity. The university will provide accessible and equitable educational opportunities and resources to underrepresented students and provide yearly workshops and training opportunities to faculty, staff, and administration.
The fifth goal is to engage with the southern Utah region to strengthen civic, cultural, and economic life. Dixie State will create an entity that will oversee all of the university’s community service efforts, take stock of our efforts, identify ways to better serve the community, and host an annual community service fair.
The sixth and final goal is to establish a strong brand and identity for the university. This will be accomplished by highlighting the unique aspects of the university’s academic programs and location, strengthening the athletics program and forging more alliances with businesses, alumni, and community members.
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