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Nate Alder: ‘Polytechnic’ is fine, but leave ‘State’ to the Aggies

Proposed new name for Dixie State University steals most of Utah State University’s name.

(Kim Raff | Tribune file photo) Old Main on the campus of Utah State University in Logan on Feb. 25, 2013.

Dixie State University is ready to rebrand to a new institutional name. This has happened before, both in its own history, and for other institutions of higher education in Utah. For example, Utah Valley University, Weber State University and Southern Utah University have taken on new names in the past few decades.

As Utah’s political and higher education leaders sort through options for Dixie, one thing should be obvious – don’t take all three words comprising “Utah State University” and give them to Dixie. Does Dixie really need four words to say Utah Tech? What the heck?

With vigor, Dixie’s leaders are now attempting to roll out the name “Utah Polytechnic State University” as the committee’s final choice. But just prior to that announcement, they had forwarded six finalist names that did not contain the word “State.” The six were: Utah Technological University, Utah University of Technology and Arts, Utah University of Technology and Humanities, Utah Polytechnic University, Utah Institute of Technology and Utah University of Technology. Interestingly, the committee’s research told them that some of these names were “too long” and thus had become lower-tiered options. The committee favored three-word combinations.

Well, USU’s central nervous system was shocked when “Utah Polytechnic State University” became a surprise reveal by Dixie’s committee. Indeed, the committee added “State” at the last minute.

Think of the long and well-established identity of Utah State University, which, by the way, has campuses, classrooms and extension facilities throughout Utah, including Tremonton, Brigham City, Kaysville, Taylorsville, Park City, Tooele, Heber City, Orem, Nephi, Price, Delta, Richfield, Ephraim, Beaver, Junction, Bicknell, Vernal, Roosevelt, Moab, Monticello, Blanding, Monument Valley, Panguitch, Cedar City, Kanab and yes, even St. George. USU is not singularly located at Old Main Hill in Logan, 382 miles north of the Dixie campus. Indeed, Utah’s leaders have designed Utah State University to deliver higher education to citizens statewide.

It is important to note that Weber State University and Dixie State University do not use the word “Utah.” Likewise, Utah Valley University and Southern Utah University do not use the word “State.” Utah’s leaders have carefully protected the brand identity and name of Utah’s historic, land-grant, teaching, research and service institution — Utah State University. All three words. No other institution of higher education possesses every single word of Utah State University.

Somehow the committee charged with finding a new name for Dixie thought that every single word in “Utah State University” could suddenly be available for its use. Perhaps they figured Aggies would not see that “Utah State University” had come to surround the word “Polytechnic.” Instead, Aggie Nation immediately took notice of the committee’s late acquisition.

The Dixie committee has a simple solution here. It clearly liked the three-word name “Utah Polytechnic University.” The shorter names had risen to the top. The longer names to the bottom. Their research had led them to the three-word version with “Polytechnic” in the middle. The committee never finalized “State” for any of its six best names. So, why use four words now when three will do?

Utah Polytechnic University gets the committee what it really wanted – three words, and the nickname “Utah Tech.” Leave Utah State to the Aggies.


Nate Alder is a graduate of both Dixie College, A.A. ’89, and Utah State University, B.A ’91. He served as an elected student body officer on both campuses. He is now an attorney and mediator in downtown Salt Lake City.

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