The Dixie State University Board of Trustees voted Tuesday to recommend Utah Tech University as the new institutional name. The board’s recommending vote will now go to the Utah Board of Higher Education for their vote before being forwarded to the Utah State Legislature.
“The Name Recommendation Committee was tasked with a very difficult assignment with many, many factors to consider, and they recommended a name that led us to where we are now,” David Clark, DSU Board of Trustee chair, said. “Utah Tech University distinguishes the university as a polytechnic institution that serves the entire state while offering a shorter name that quickly establishes our approach to education that emphasizes active learning and career preparation.”
The name highlights the university’s comprehensive polytechnic mission, which means the institution focuses on offering active learning experiences to ensure students graduate career ready and dives deeper into STEM, business and healthcare fields. To meet industry demands for highly skilled employees, Dixie State has added 111 programs, 85 percent of which are in the STEM disciplines, in the last five years. These additions will address residents’ desires for their children to be able to earn a livable wage and raise their families in Washington County.
“This is a very strong name. In fact, of the top 100 ranked universities in the nation, more than 60 include the name of their state and the only universities to include a mission are all technological or polytechnic institutions,” Clark said. “We are confident that as soon as the community steps on campus and meets our students and graduates, they will see the great benefit of this academic focus for our students and alumni as well as our area’s economic and workforce needs.”
To alleviate confusion with the state’s technical college system and address the incorrect assumption that the university doesn’t offer a comprehensive education in all academic disciplines, the naming committee in collaboration with DSU Trustees and Utah Board of Higher Education looked to other states to find possible solutions. It was discovered there are currently 12 states with a state-funded technological or polytechnic university that work effectively with their state-funded technical college system.
“The Trustees are confident we can build a similar model for the state of Utah,” Clark said.
In voting on a name, the board relied on the instructions provided by the Utah State Legislature in House Bill 278, Name Change Process for Dixie State University. The bill indicates that the name should reflect the institution’s mission and significance to the surrounding region and state and enable the institution to compete and be recognized nationally.
The process began in July 2020, when the university announced it would gather information on the impacts of the Dixie name and has since received more than 20,000 responses from stakeholders. Based on the initial information gathered, Dixie State determined it was necessary to formally study the name’s impacts. DSU then commissioned Cicero Group in August 2020 to conduct an in-depth Dixie Name Impact Study that included a survey of more than 3,000 participants and more than 100 interviews and focus groups.
After reviewing Cicero’s findings and consulting with stakeholders, Dixie State’s Board of Trustees voted in December 2020 to recommend an institutional name change to the Utah Board of Higher Education, voted to take the recommendation to the Utah State Legislature. During the 2021 General Session, legislators passed House Bill 278, which also laid out a plan for the Board of Trustees to establish a Name Recommendation Committee. Since its formation in March, the committee received responses from individuals including residents of southwestern Utah, institutional partners and university faculty, staff, students and alumni.
In addition to holding listening meetings, the committee commissioned Love Communications to create a name survey that was completed by 14,449 individuals in April and helped the Name Recommendation Committee narrow the field to six overarching name themes: academic mission, Deseret, Dixie, geological/geographical, St. George and Utah. The themes were presented to more than 300 stakeholders via 47 focus groups. Based on the provided feedback, the committee selected academic mission and Utah as the final themes. After further vetting these themes through 12 additional focus groups, Love Communications presented findings to the committee.
Moving forward, the Board of Trustees’ recommending vote will be presented to the Utah Board of Higher Education, and if approved, forwarded to the Utah State Legislature since the current name is part of state statute. The recommendation must receive a majority vote from both the House and Senate as well as the governor’s approval in order to become law.
For the complete name recommendation process timeline and other details, visit utahtech.edu/nameprocess.