The Dixie State University Name Recommendation Committee voted Monday morning to recommend Utah Polytechnic State University as the new institutional name. The committee’s recommendation will now go to the university’s Board of Trustees for a vote.
“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. “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 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,” Dr. Michael Lacourse, Dixie State provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, said. “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.”
Prior to the meeting, committee members had the opportunity last week to listen to a dozen focus groups that involved more than 100 students and other key stakeholders. Focus group discussions centered on the final themes of academic mission and Utah and specific name ideas. In these conversations, participants discussed nicknames to consider in line with the national standard for polytechnic universities to be known by a shorter name. Nicknames focus group participants suggested for future consideration and research included Utah Tech, Utah Polytech and UTech.
A proposed nickname was a large portion of the committee’s discussion Monday morning, with some members expressing a strong affinity for Utah Tech and others expressing a need to conduct more research and hear more opinions before casting a vote for a nickname. In the end, prior to taking a vote on the official name, the committee voted to recommend Utah Tech to the university’s Board of Trustees as the nickname. Prior to the vote, the committee noted that the body is not tasked with recommending a nickname but voted on the motion in an effort to share their full recommendation with the Board of Trustees.
In selecting a recommended name, the committee 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. Additionally, the committee pored over research gathered throughout the name recommendation process.
The process began in July 2020, when the university announced it would gather information on the impacts of the Dixie name. 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, who went on to vote to take the recommendation to the Utah State Legislature. During the 2021 General Session, legislators passed House Bill 278.
Since its formation in March, the Name Recommendation Committee received 20,000 responses from individuals including residents of southwestern Utah, institutional partners and university faculty, staff, students and alumni, based on the instructions provided in HB 278.
In addition to holding town hall 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.
Moving forward, the DSU Board of Trustees will set up a meeting to vote on the committee’s recommendation. If the Trustees approve the name, the recommendation 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 dixie.edu/nameprocess.