Dixie State University naming recommendation committee votes on new name

FILE - Undated 2021 photo of Dixie State University, St. George, Utah | Photo courtesy of Dixie State University, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A committee appointed to choose a new name for Dixie State University has voted on a possibility.

According to St. George News, the committee voted 11-3 in favor of renaming the university Utah Polytechnic State University, with a possible shorthand version of the name being Utah Tech, during a public meeting Monday morning.

“Selecting Utah Polytechnic State University as the committee’s recommendation was an arduous process, but well worth the effort,” Julie Beck, DSU Board of Trustee member and chair of the Name Recommendation Committee, said in a press release. “The name distinguishes the university on a statewide scale, offers it the prestigious status it deserves and emphasizes the university’s comprehensive polytechnic mission. The Utah Polytechnic State University name will serve our students and alumni well as they enter into the careers and graduate programs of their dreams.”

During deliberations, committee members said including “Utah” in the name will help establish the university as an institution that serves and benefits students from the entire state while providing a broad location identifier to those outside of Utah, the press release stated.

The inclusion of “Polytechnic” highlights the university’s academic mission to be the nation’s first open, inclusive, comprehensive, polytechnic university. Under this academic focus, the university combines active and applied learning with a strong foundation in liberal arts and sciences to prepare students to meet industry demands. Additionally, the term “University” was retained to emphasize the comprehensive nature of the university’s more than 200 academic programs.

“Regional workforce needs, specifically in the tech, healthcare, engineering and other similar sectors, are increasing and the university is perfectly positioned to fill these needs with our active learn-by-doing programs in a location that is desperately lacking polytechnic universities,” said Dr. Michael Lacourse, Dixie State provost and vice president of Academic Affairs. “Universities like Cal Poly, Texas Tech and Virginia Tech are great examples for us to look to as we work toward filling this void in our own state.”

The recommendation will now go to the Dixie State University Board of Trustees for a vote. If approved, it will then be sent to the Utah Legislature for a final vote, at which time the name change would either become official or sent back to the committee for another recommendation depending on the vote.

The committee previously voted to drop the name “Dixie” and also opted not to pursue a name that included “St. George” or “Red Rock.”

The committee, comprising students, university employees, community members and industry leaders, discussed several themes that emerged from the community survey completed by 14,449 individuals throughout April.

The committee extensively discussed the pros and cons of retaining Dixie in the name, according to a statement from the university. Proponents on the committee of keeping Dixie expressed support for it honoring the community and university’s heritage and serving as a location identifier within Utah. Others raised concerns about its location confusion and meaning outside of Utah.

The committee chose to include a term from the academic mission theme in the institutional name, noting that the university’s comprehensive polytechnic education that combines active and applied learning with a strong foundation in the liberal arts and sciences will not only prepare students for careers that respond to industry demands but also set the institution apart from any other university in the state and nation. As such, the committee was in favor of showcasing this mission in the institutional name.

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