Trustees vote unanimously; ‘Dixie’ stays

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Welcome to Dixie State University.

At least, that’s what the college will be known as if it continues on its path to university status. 

In one of the most anticipated board of trustees meeting in Dixie State College’s history, the institution’s new name was motioned, seconded and then voted upon on Jan. 18.

Students, faculty, staff, alumni, community members and journalists packed the Zion Room in the Holland Centennial Commons to hear the decision that’s been hotly debated since the first public forum on the name held Nov. 1, 2012.

The trustees unanimously voted for DSC to move forward as a university under the name Dixie State University. Although the Sorenson Advertising information gathered over the past few months strongly indicated that Dixie State University would indeed be the majority’s preference, a large audience still attended the meeting to hear the decision in person.

The board first voted on DSC’s moving forward as a university, and the trustees’ unanimous vote was almost instantaneous, but only after reflection from the board members.

“We’re ready to go to the next level and change the status of Dixie State College of Utah to the university status,” said Steven Caplin, DSC board of trustees chair. “With tears in my eyes, I place that motion before you that we resolve…to become a university.”

Trustee Hal Hiatt, who represents the DSC Alumni Association, said he wanted to recognize the pioneering spirit of those who made the school possible in the past, present and future. Trustee Julie Beck teared up as she spoke about her great grandparents coming to southern Utah.

When the motion passed unanimously, almost everyone in attendance stood and applauded.

The trustees then reflected upon the actual name and discussed the issue in great detail before moving forward.

DSC Student Association President Brody Mikesell, a senior integrated studies major from Henefer, was the lone voice of opposition in the crowd; when the floor was opened for trustee comments, Mikesell admitted his reluctance to vote for “Dixie.”

“I’m a little emotional,” he said. “I’ve been very outspoken on my advocacy for the removal of ‘Dixie.’ But I made a commitment to the president and to the students that I would…represent the student voice, and the student voice is overwhelmingly for Dixie State University.”

Mikesell had spearheaded a campaign in the fall semester to bring a voice to the minority who found “Dixie” offensive.

“Based on public response, it’s just obvious and it would be inappropriate for the trustees to vote in the other way from what the public wants,” he said. “But it would also be equally inappropriate to not recognize the 17 percent that are affected just as strongly by…the name ‘Dixie.’

He said he would continue to advocate for that minority, but ultimately he would vote for the name in order to unify the students.

The path toward becoming a university will continue on Jan. 25. The Utah Board of Regents will vote on both the name and status of Dixie State College. If the regents approve, then the vote will continue on to the Utah legislation and finally to Gov. Gary Herbert’s desk for final approval.