Dixie Bill Continues Through the Legislative Process with Community Input Included

March 1, 2021

 H.B. 278 Name Change Process for Dixie State University passed the Senate Education Committee this afternoon. The substitute bill establishes a collaborative process for recommending a name that involves university students, faculty and the local community.

The substitute bill facilitates an opportunity for additional input from the Southern Utah community. With the change, Dixie State University (DSU) may still determine a name to better reflect the university’s future, enabling the institution to reach its potential and match its mission. This does not delay the timeline or process initially outlined in the bill.

“Creating a space for public input and listening to all sides of the issue is our duty as legislators,” said Senate President J. Stuart Adams. “We do not take our responsibility lightly, and as such, were compelled to find consensus with the community and the university before moving the bill forward through the legislative process. By listening to all sides, we found a solution that involves the community and respects the goals of the university.”

H.B. 278 received considerable input from DSU students and the Southern Utah community. Lawmakers met with students, local business leaders, university leaders and community members to determine how best to move forward.

“Dixie State has laid out a vision to become a regional university and selecting a name that better reflects the evolving scope and mission of the institution is a pivotal step in that process,” said Speaker Brad Wilson. “The substitute bill adopted today attends to the demands of all sides and seeks to preserve the regional heritage of the area while also recognizing the need for a name that will project well beyond the borders of Southern Utah.”

The DSU Student Association Executive Council, University Council, President’s Cabinet, Board of Trustees, the Utah Board of Higher Education and Utah System of Higher Education presidents unanimously supported changing the university’s name.

“The University is thrilled with the action taken today by the Legislature,” said President Richard Williams. “H.B. 278 will keep the name change process initiated by the DSU Board of Trustees moving forward. We are excited to continue working with community and institutional partners to identify a name that reflects our new academic focus and fully supports our students’ and alumni’s goals.”

Following community input, the Board of Trustees and Board of Higher Education may recommend a name for the institution that best reflects the university’s focus. With the recommendation, $500,000 will be appropriated to the Heritage Committee to preserve the regional heritage, culture and history on DSU’s campus, should the trustees opt to change the name.

“After listening and talking with constituents and voicing their concerns, we have reached a consensus,” said Sen. Don L. Ipson, floor sponsor. “The bill has received considerable input from DSU students and the St. George community, and as representatives of the people, we listened to the concerns of all Utahns before proceeding with the bill. With the substitution and removing the name Dixie from the bill, it now enables community input, which will preserve the heritage of our great community.”

“Today’s action is an important step down the path already laid out by university leadership and students,” said Rep. Miles, bill sponsor. “I am confident that the DSU Board of Trustees and the Utah Board of Higher Education will return later this year with a new name recommendation that enables the university to fulfill its mission as a regional and even national institution.”

Following today’s Senate Education Committee hearing, the bill will be heard on the Senate floor and then go back to the House for a concurrence vote. Track H.B. 278 here.