‘A difficult day’: Dixie State University Board of Trustees votes to recommend university name change

File photo: Signage on 700 East in St. George welcomes students, staff and visitors to Dixie State University, St. George, Utah, Dec. 14, 2020 | Photo by Hollie Stark, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Members of the Dixie State University Board of Trustees voted unanimously Monday afternoon to recommend a university name change to the Utah State Board of Higher Education.

The vote came after trustees were presented with, and reviewed the results of, a study conducted by independent consultant group Cicero Group on what kind of impact the continued use of the name “Dixie” has and will have on the university.

The independent study, which was commissioned by DSU, was designed to meaningfully measure the impacts, both positive and negative, of the name “Dixie” and provide feedback on the results, Cicero Group’s Aaron Andersen said during the presentation.

The study comes on the heels of talks and name changes throughout the community, including Intermountain Healthcare announcing earlier this year that they will be dropping “Dixie” from the name of Intermountain Dixie Regional Medical Center and changing it to Intermountain St. George Regional Hospital.

Additionally, in June, the Washington County St. George Interlocal Board tabled talks about changing the name of the Dixie Convention Center to the Greater Zion Convention Center, which would have brought the center’s name in line with the branding of the Greater Zion Convention and Tourism Office.

Dixie State University, St. George, Dec. 14, 2020 | Photo by Hollie Stark, St. George News

Members of the board had the opportunity to review the data and ask questions of members of the Cicero Group regarding the findings of the impact of the name “Dixie” as well as express their opinions.

In her comments, board member Julie Beck said one of the most disappointing findings from the survey was that name is a hindrance to Dixie State University being taken seriously as a comprehensive polytechnic university both in and outside of the Washington County Community.

After a nearly two-hour meeting, Penny Mills, student body president and board of trustee member, made the motion to accept cabinet recommendation to propose a name change to the Utah State Board of Higher Education.

“This is a difficult day, a great day, a momentous day,” Beck said.

While the vote was unanimous to make the recommendation, many in the meeting said a name change would not remove what is known as “the Dixie spirit” from the campus or the community.

This is a developing story.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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