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One Word in School's Name Has Prompted Push for Change

Board of trustees approves motion to drop 'Dixie' from Dixie State University in Utah
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 15, 2020 9:30 AM CST

(Newser) – Dixie State University appears to be following the lead of the Chicks. The Utah university's board of trustees unanimously approved a motion to change the school's name on Monday after a survey showed respondents related it to the Confederacy. Some 41% of Utahans and 64% of respondents from the school's recruiting region say "Dixie"—a name applied to southwestern Utah when it was first slapped on the school in 1913, per the New York Times—was evocative of the South or Confederacy. Among the latter group, 42% said the name made them less likely to attend the public university. The name "now shows agreement, whether tacit or explicit, with Confederate ideals of racism, oppression, and exclusion," reads an executive summary, per KSL. The study was launched after the university's faculty senate voted earlier this year to change the name, following the death of George Floyd.

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Some 22% of recent alums said out-of-state employers had expressed concern at seeing the word "Dixie" on resumes, while 47% of out-of-state alumni said they were uncomfortable sporting DSU's brand, per KSL. Additionally, 48% of African American respondents said that keeping the name would negatively impact the school's reputation. Some 33% of white respondents said the same, compared to 29% in both groups who said the name would reflect positively. University President Richard "Biff" Williams says the school needs a name that "will help us recruit, maintain, and graduate the best and brightest." Though the name is cherished locally, locals can't "explain it to everyone," said trustee Tiffany Wilson, per KSL. She voted for the change as Dixie State's mission "is to be open and inclusive." Utah's System of Higher Education will need to give its OK before any change can be made. (Read more name change stories.)

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