ST. GEORGE, Utah (ABC4) – A bill to change the name of Dixie State University, in southern Utah, has been signed into law.

The bill, House Bill 278, passed in a 26-3 vote and was signed by Governor Cox on March 16, 2021.

Now that the bill has been signed, what’s next in the name-changing process? 

Jyl Hall, Public Relations Director for Dixie State University tells ABC4 the university is working to put together a 19 member “Name Recommendation Committee” to review options for the institution’s name, provide opportunities for public input and make a formal name recommendation to the Board of Trustees.

Hall says the Utah Legislature asked the Board of Trustees Executive Committee to put the naming committee together. Since the bill has been passed, Hall says the university has been working to put together the naming committee of invited members. 

The committee will include members who represent students, university employees, community members, and industry leaders.

Hall says by Utah State law, the primary task of the committee is to identify a name for the university that reflects the institution’s mission and significance to the surrounding region and state as well as enabling the institution to compete and be recognized nationally. 

She says once the committee is put in place they will hire a 3rd party partner to conduct a survey from thousands of Utahns to decide on possible names for the school. 

The committee and partner will review the survey’s data, narrow the search to approximately five name themes and present them for additional input, Hall adds

After collecting feedback from the public survey and focus groups and reviewing all past and present data and considerations, the Name Recommendation Committee will choose a final name theme, present it to additional focus groups, and put forth a final name recommendation to the DSU Board of Trustees. 

“Isn’t a popularity contest,” Hall says. She says it about looking at all the factors to protect students, faculty, and alumni. 

Photo: Dixie State University

The biggest motivating factor, Hall shares, is to protect students and remove any barriers when they are applying for jobs and graduate schools.

The university wants “to give them a name they are proud of,” Halls shares with ABC4. 

The deadline for name submissions stated by the legislature is November 1, 2021.  

The push for the bill came from the connotations associated with the word ‘Dixie’ and the school receiving many years of controversial comments. During the time the bill was in the legislative session, Dixie State University students gathered at the steps of the Utah Capitol – and a few in opposition to the change – to call on senators to hear the bill.

This is a developing story. ABC4 will follow the story and share updated as they become available.