Utah university board votes to drop ‘Dixie’ from name after recent grads worried it affected job prospects
Dixie State University in Utah is considering a name change after a recent study found the school’s name had negative connotations and affected students and alumni looking for job opportunities outside the state.The university board of trustees voted to recommend an institutional name change to the Utah Board of Higher Education on Monday, following a university-commissioned study that examined the positive and negative impacts of continuing to include Dixie in the university’s name, according to the university.
The study conducted this summer by the consulting firm Cicero Group showed that 22% of the university’s recent graduates looking for jobs outside of Utah have had a potential employer express concern about the word “Dixie” on their resume.The study also found the name Dixie hindered the university in other areas, including recruitment of faculty and staff and building partnerships.
“Preparing students for the careers of their dreams is at the very core of the university’s mission, so it’s crucial that a DSU education gives graduates a competitive advantage rather than present an obstacle they must overcome,” said University President Richard B. Williams.The name Dixie has represented the school for more than 100 years and carries a cherished meaning in St. George, Utah, where the university is located.
The community has gone by the nickname of “Utah’s Dixie” since 1857, when 38 families moved to the southwest corner of the state to establish a town and grow cotton, according to the university. The name belongs to several local businesses and institutions in the area, even the local high school.However, Dixie has different associations for people outside southwest Utah.
The study found that the term “Dixie” carried negative connotations of slavery and the Confederacy, and 45% of faculty and staff indicated that when they meet others in their academic field, they assume DSU is in the South.”At the core of this discussion is one simple truth, there are different meanings for the word Dixie,” Williams said in a video released by the university. “Locally, the term Dixie is widely accepted understood and cherished. Outside of the region, the meaning is much different and does not encompass inclusion and acceptance.
“The proposed name change for the university comes after several entities removed the problematic term from their names this year following the protests and national conversation about racial inequality after the death of George Floyd.Earlier this year, the country music trio formerly known as the Dixie Chicks changed its name to The Chicks and Dixie Brewery, the oldest brewery in New Orleans, changed its name to Faubourg Brewing Company.
The new name is a tribute to the city’s diverse neighborhoods, as faubourg (pronounced Fo-burg) is a French word that is often interchangeably used with “neighborhood” in New Orleans.Miami-Dade County commissioners in Florida voted to rename portions of The Dixie Highway to Harriet Tubman Highway.If the Utah Board of Higher Education agrees with the university’s decision, it must ask the Utah Legislature for approval to change the name. If the legislature approves, a process would be started to choose a new name, the university said.