Board of trustees unanimously votes to change Dixie State to Utah Tech University

Attendees at Tuesday's meeting of the Dixie State University Board of Trustees' meeting, St. George, Utah, June 29, 2021 | Photo by Ammon Teare, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — At noon on Tuesday, the Dixie State University Board of Trustees voted unanimously to change the name of Dixie State to Utah Tech University. 

Members of the Dixie State University Board of Trustees heard from members of the name recommendation committee as they met to vote, St. George, Utah, June 29, 2021 | Photo by Ammon Teare, St. George News

The passing vote will advance the name change process to the next reviewing body, which will be the Utah State Board of Higher Education. In the meeting, the board members prefaced their vote with discussion of the entire name change process, including their decision to move away from the previous frontrunner, Utah Polytechnic State University.

On June 14, the Name Recommendation Committee voted 11-3 in favor of renaming the school Utah Polytechnic State University. The proposed name was poorly received by students and members of the community.

“It is very clear that ‘Utah Polytechnic State University’ was an epic failure,” said trustee Tiffany Wilson. “It met the requirements. There were three parts that we needed to include in the name, as per the state mandate: that it reflected the local region, it allowed the university to compete at a national level and it needed to reflect the mission of the university. The mission of the university is polytechnic, but it clearly doesn’t make a good name.”

Online and at protests, critics of the proposed name made jokes about the initials “UPSU” and their similarity to the package delivery service, UPS. 

Randy Wilkinson, a member of the name recommendation committee who walked out in protest, asked permission to address the board of trustees and was allowed to speak.

Randy Wilkinson, one of three members of the name recommendation committee that left due to his continuing support for the name “Dixie,” St. George, Utah, June 29, 2021 | Photo by Ammon Teare, St. George News

“As I was appointed to that committee, I felt very strongly about Dixie: that name and what it meant to this area and to this institution. During the course of the committee … my love for Dixie grew even greater.”

Wilkinson asked that the board of trustees make allowances to hear from other supporters of retaining the name “Dixie,” especially Tim Anderson.

After Wilkinson’s remarks, the trustees discussed their personal history with region and with the name “Dixie,” many emphasizing the rigor of the research that went into the process and the labor they and others performed in completing the process.

Near the meeting’s end, trustees Larry Bergeson and Jon Pike requested that a motion be made to start the process of review for referring to the central campus in St. George as the “Dixie Campus,” and the board voted 8-1 in favor of the motion. Trustee Penny Mills, a current student, was the lone dissenting vote.

The board met in the Zion Room of the Jeffrey R. Holland Centennial Commons building on the Dixie State University campus. The meeting room was packed with attendees, with over 150 members of the public in the room and more attendees in a nearby room where the meeting was broadcast. Over 370 individuals joined the meeting via Zoom. 

The audience was dominated by attendees wearing red shirts emblazoned with the words “Keep Dixie.” Crowd members booed and occasionally spoke out in disagreement with the trustees, with campus police officers occasionally speaking with the more rowdy attendees.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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