SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – A House committee voted in favor of a bill that would remove the word ‘Dixie’ from Dixie State University Wednesday evening.
Bill 278, sponsored by Rep. Kelly Miles, (R) Ogden, passed the Utah House Education Committee with a 12-2 vote.
The push for the bill originated from the connotations associated with the word ‘Dixie’, in which the school received many years of controversial comments in regards to endorsing the south and the confederacy.
“We have a great love for southern Utah and Dixie State University, but we’re looking at it as a whole of what’s in the best interest of the students,” says Rep. Miles. “The primary charge is to help educate and place students into the workforce, and I think all of this distraction with the name is coming between that.”
When concerns about the school’s name started to arise, officials with Dixie State University commissioned an impact study that addressed the positives and negatives of keeping “Dixie” in the school name by the firm Cicero Group.
“A name change would likely result in decreased alumni donations,” according to Cicero, “whereas keeping the ‘Dixie’ name could mean trouble for grant seeking, corporate donations, and partnerships.” Below are some of the key findings of the study:
- 22% of recent DSU graduates have had a potential employer express concern about seeing the word “Dixie” on their resume.
- 54% of faculty and staff and 36% of current students believe the name will have a negative impact on the institution’s general brand.
- 33% of Southern Utah residents, 41% of Utahns, and 64% of survey participants from DSU recruiting areas associated the term “Dixie” with the South or the Confederacy.
- 45% of current DSU staff said that when they meet other academic professionals, they assume DSU is located in the southern United States.
Another key finding that researchers found that the use of “Dixie” in the name is hurting employment prospects for some alums and some faculty and staff see impacts to their ability to obtain funding
While the bill calls for the name of the University to be changed, an amendment was made to the bill that would allow for the main campus of the University to be named the “Dixie Campus” to “honor the local traditional significance of the name of the institution.”