The board of trustees at Dixie State University in St. George, Utah, voted unanimously to ask the Utah Board of Higher Education to change the name of the educational institution. Pioneers, mainly from the South, settled in southwest Utah to grow cotton beginning in 1857.
An independent study found that:
- 22 percent of recent graduates looking for jobs outside of Utah have had an employer express concern that Dixie is on their résumé.
- 42 percent of respondents from the university’s recruiting region and 22 percent of respondents from Utah say the name makes them less likely to attend Dixie State University.
- 17 percent of the univerity’s community members, 38 percent of Utahns, and 52 percent of people outside of the state feel uncomfortable wearing our apparel outside of Utah; 47 percent of recent alumni who live outside of the state feel uncomfortable wearing their alma mater’s brand.
In a statement, Richard Williams, president of Dixie State University, said that “although we deeply believe moving toward an institutional name change is in the best interest of our campus community, we understand this change will be difficult for many since the name has been cherished in our region since 1857. We share in the profound pride of the local meaning of Dixie that embodies the region’s pioneering heritage of grit, service, and sacrifice. However, the word Dixie has a national meaning that is vastly different from the local understanding of the term. The data shows that Dixie means the Confederacy to 33 percent of Southern Utah residents, 41 percent of Utahns, and 64 percent of respondents from our recruiting region.”
Dixie State University enrolls about 11,000 undergraduate students and under 50 graduate students, according to the most recent data posted by the U.S. Department of Education. African Americans make up 2 percent of the student body.