SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Board of Higher Education is throwing its support behind a plan to change Dixie State University’s name.
The board voted unanimously for the change during its meeting on Friday.
Aaron Andersen with the Cicero Group said their study for the university showed as many as 25% of graduates said the name hurt job opportunities.
Professors are also feeling and experiencing prejudice.
“Faculty and staff are seeing impacts in their ability to obtain grants and funding,” Andersen said.
As the school continues to grow, recruitment outside of Utah is getting harder because of the word “Dixie”, according to Andersen.
However, Board Vice Chairman Aaron Osmond questioned the survey, saying some residents thought the questions themselves were slanted. They also felt there was a “political goal” to them.
Andersen strongly disagreed, saying they do “unbiased research”.
Dixie State University President Richard Williams said the name change will not be cheap. It will probably cost a couple million dollars.
“To change the letterhead and some signs and things like that,” Williams said.
However, he feels it is worth the cost because of what students will gain.
“[Right now], students can’t obtain employment after they spend tens of thousands of dollars for their education. That’s problematic,” Williams said.
Board member Lisa Michele-Church has deep roots in southern Utah and graduated from Dixie College. She also supports the change.
“It comes down to, what is the role of a public university? This is not a heritage monument. This is a public university that has to serve students,” Michele-Church said. “As much as I love my community, I don’t think it serves anyone’s interests to constantly defend and explain the name, and I’ve done that my whole life.”
It’s unclear what the university would be renamed. However, the Utah Legislature has the final say on any name changes.
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