In just a few weeks, Dixie State University will no longer exist.
The school in St. George will move forward under the new name Utah Tech University. The transition comes after more than a year — filled with rallies and debates and questions from lawmakers — of supporters pushing to drop the title that had grown tied to slavery and the Confederacy of the Civil War South.
Now, after getting final approval for the change and after graduating its last class this spring under the Dixie name, the rebranding is finally underway. Here’s what you need to know about the new tech-savvy name, including a first look at logos and timing.
1. The logo for Utah Tech University is filled with symbolism.
The school released the new logos on Sunday. The images are split in half by color — with blue on the top and red on the bottom.
President Richard Williams said in an editorial board meeting with The Salt Lake Tribune that it represents the blue skies of southern Utah and the red sandstone cliffs.
The school noted in a news release that it could also be seen as a nod to the cooler temperatures in northern Utah and the warmer weather around St. George. The university said part of the transition is also taking a bigger role in being an institution that represents the entire state.
Also embedded in the logo is the shape of the state of Utah. If you look at the “U” at the start, you can see the outline for the state.
Similarly, the front of the “U” includes the outline of the No. 1. That is a nod to the school’s Division I athletics, but also being at the forefront of the innovation and research, Williams said.
The design is also meant to look modern to showcase the school’s technology focus.
2. The official rollout comes this summer.
The school agreed to have the class of 2022 graduate under the Dixie name. So the transition to the new name comes this summer.
“Dixie” will officially be dropped on July 1.
It has been an extensive process to get to this point, including many surveys, hearings and some protests.
“This process was one of the most visible, notable and comprehensive rebrands the state has ever experienced,” said Julie Beck, chair of the Name Recommendation Committee, in a statement.
The group Defending Southwestern Utah Heritage Coalition has been the main driver of opposition to the name change. Members have said “Dixie” is not tied to slavery or racism, but rather the pioneering spirit of the region.
However, some 19th-century pioneers in the southwest part of Utah were growing cotton, and a few of the area’s early settlers owned slaves.
3. The Trailblazers nickname and bison mascot will stay. And the campus will keep some nods to “Dixie.”
Still, the school has promised to honor that heritage and keep some elements of “Dixie” around.
The name will appear on the school’s marquee on its main campus. It will be updated to say Utah Tech University, with “Dixie Campus” appearing below that, Williams said.
The president said, additionally, that the school will highlight the full heritage of the area, including the Native American peoples who were there first. It will do so with displays and collections.
The school has hired a person, for instance, to work for two years to pull together a memorial for “why this community is so fond of the name Dixie,” Williams noted.
“We’re trying to do what we can,” he said. “We feel like our community supports us, but there will still be a few opposed.”
The school had already dropped its use of the Confederate flag in 1993 and Rodney the Rebel mascot in 2007. It removed a statue of a Confederate soldier in 2012. And the slave auctions and minstrel shows and blackface that students did up until the 1990s — which fill the pages of the yearbooks there — ended, too.
Its board voted to change the university name after conducting a study that found 64% of respondents outside of Utah related the term “Dixie” to racism. Williams also said several students told him that was hurting their chances in job interviews and graduate school applications. And students of color have said that the name made them uncomfortable.
But the school will keep the Trailblazers nickname that refers to the Latter-day Saint pioneers who came to the region. And it will continue with the bison mascot.
“That really fits into that pioneer spirit of grit and resilience,” Williams said.
4. The name change is already having a positive impact.
Williams said he’s noticed, anecdotally, that the new name is helping the school succeed.
He said enrollment will increase across every category this fall, including freshmen, transfer students and general retention.
The school had about 12,200 students last year and expects to grow to more than 13,000 this year. (As such, the school is breaking ground on a new dorm building in January that will provide 500 more beds.)
Donations to the university have also shot up, Williams said. And he noted that they’ve been able to hire more top faculty. He said several new staff members have personally told him that they wouldn’t have come to the school if it the “Dixie” name was staying.
“We’re trying to raise the university all at once,” Williams added. “We can all excel at the same time.”
Williams said the new name better fits the mission and the future of the school.
5. The transition will cost $3 million.
The school has changed its name eight times before this. It started in 1911 as St. George Academy and has since transitioned into a college and a university (in 2013).
The latest change, noted Jordon Sharp, the vice president of marking for the school, is “kind of the last piece of the story.”
The university sits in one of the fastest growing cities in America, and administrators want to take advantage of the momentum.
The cost to rename the school will sit at about $3 million, Williams said. And the money for that was provided by the Utah Legislature.
That will cover all rebranding for things like the main campus marquee and stadium signs.
The other costs are already line items that the school regularly pays for, including stationary, business cards and the banners across campus (that are regularly faded by the sun). The school’s email addresses will also change. And its website has already been updated.
More information can be found at utahtech.edu/brand.