Q: Why did the Name Recommendation Committee select Utah Polytechnic State University as their recommendation?
A: To best explain this, it’s easiest to break the name recommendation down into its four main components. Including Utah in the name establishes the university as an institution that serves 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. Additionally, the term State was retained to emphasize the university’s status as an open-enrollment public institution. And the term University highlights the comprehensive nature of the university’s more than 200 academic programs.
Q: What did the committee take into consideration in making this decision?
A: As we have shared from the beginning of the name recommendation process, selecting an institution’s brand name is not a popularity contest. Rather, the Name Recommendation Committee took many factors into consideration such as past name and perception studies, best practices among other institutions of higher learning, and the University’s goals for growth and academic differentiation, as outlined in the university’s 2020-2025 strategic plan, Trailblazing Distinction. Of course, the committee also heavily weighed public opinion collected in various surveys, focus groups, and town hall listening meetings conducted throughout the yearlong name recommendation process that elicited 20,000 responses.
- In the fall of 2020, Cicero Group conducted an in-depth impact study that engaged more than 3,000 stakeholders and revealed that 22% of recent graduates looking for jobs outside of Utah have had a prospective employer express concern that the word “Dixie” is on their résumé and 42% of respondents from the university’s recruiting region and 27% of alumni indicated that the Dixie name has a negative impact on their willingness to attend DSU or encourage a student to do so.While the study also indicated that a majority of the Southern Utah community (75%) and 55% of all study respondents were in favor of keeping the Dixie name, a strong brand name should be accepted by nearly 100% of stakeholders. A good brand name will only lift an organization’s reputation and exposure. Equipped with this knowledge, the University’s Board of Trustees — with the support of DSU’s Cabinet, University Council, Student Executive Council, Staff Association Board and Faculty Senate — voted to recommend an institutional name change to the Utah Board of Higher Education.
- In the spring of 2021, Love Communications administered a survey to 14,449 community members with the goal of narrowing possible naming themes down to five or six. With the information collected and prevailing themes and patterns noted, Love recommended the committee move forward with St. George, Dixie, geological, academic mission, Deseret, and Utah themes.
- To digest the large amount of data collected in the impact study and community survey, examine the details, and test what would work and what wouldn’t, Love Communications conducted two rounds of focus groups with 450 participants throughout spring and summer 2021. The qualitative data gathered in this step helped the committee break down the pros and cons of each recommended theme. With participants receiving additional information and gaining greater understanding of considerations linked to each theme, the trends that emerged from this qualitative data were slightly different than the information gathered in the quantitative study and survey. Through the focus group research, preference for names within the Utah and academic mission themes increased considerably. Bearing in mind all the other data we were looking at and other considerations such as the University’s growth trajectory, adoption of the academic mission to become an open, inclusive, comprehensive polytechnic university, trademarks, uniqueness, connotations, and other factors, Utah Polytechnic University emerged as the strongest option.
Q: If the University community doesn’t support the Utah Polytechnic State University name, would that have any impact on the recommendation process?
A: We are aware that it will take the University community some time to accept the name recommendation. The full name is quite long, but it is fashioned after some of the most prestigious higher learning institutions in America. For example, Virginia Tech’s full name is Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and Cal Poly really is California Polytechnic State University. We, too, will be known by a shorter nickname. Our future nickname still needs more research, but possible options that have been suggested include Utah Tech, Utah Polytech and UTech. Utah Polytechnic State University is the most authentic name for both who we are as a University now and who we aspire to be in the future. We are optimistic that as the nickname is established, logos are created, and the community learns more about our polytechnic mission, they will better understand and appreciate the recommended name.
Q: Is our acronym going to be UPS University?
A: In line with the national standard for polytechnic universities to be known by a shorter name, we’ll likely go by a nickname rather than an acronym. As mentioned above, ideas for our nickname are still under consideration, but possible options include Utah Tech, Utah Polytech and UTech.
Q: What does it mean that DSU is a comprehensive polytechnic university?
A: A polytechnic education is characterized by active learning opportunities, industry partnerships, and career development in all academic disciplines. Dixie State is committed to expanding our capacity to offer affordable, active, and meaningful educational opportunities and preparing a highly skilled workforce for our growing region and state. As we implement new cutting-edge polytechnic programs, we will remain a comprehensive university and continue to offer a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate programs that integrate a liberal arts education and engage the community.
Q: When did DSU decide to become a comprehensive polytechnic university?
A: In preparation for our 2020-2025 strategic plan, DSU has been working for the last five years on building the infrastructure necessary to become a polytechnic university. As part of this, we have added 111 new academic programs, emphasized the “active learning. active life.” approach to education, and opened Atwood Innovation Plaza, Southern Utah’s hub for entrepreneurism and innovation.
Q: Will programs not in the tech field be eliminated or receive less attention or funding?
A: No. As we continue to grow, we will only add more programs and applied learning opportunities to ensure our students have access to a well-rounded education. Since learning by doing is a central part of a polytechnic education, every program will be infused with active learning experiences that prepare students to immediately enter the careers of their dreams upon graduation. For example, Virginia Tech and Cal Poly have robust humanities and arts programs. Additionally, MIT has one of the leading modern languages programs in the nation, and they are a technological university.
Q: Is a comprehensive polytechnic university different than a technical college?
A: Yes. As a comprehensive polytechnic university, we offer certificate, associate, baccalaureate, and master’s programs that feature applied learning opportunities blended with a traditional liberal arts education. Simply put, students get a well-rounded, comprehensive education with added active learning experiences and a greater focus on career readiness.
Q: What are the next steps in the name recommendation process?
A: 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.