To: Sen. McKell, M.,
Subject: Dixie State University Must Change Its Name
As a former black student and employee of Dixie State University for almost a decade, I wanted to share my concern surrounding the proposal to change the University’s name. I also currently work in higher education as the Assistant Director of International Student Services at the University of Utah. With my experience in higher ed for over a decade in Utah, and having helped students for many years from recruitment through graduation, I have an excellent understanding of student affairs.
As a recruiter I was asked on multiple occasions about the name “Dixie” from students, parents, and agents that were not familiar with the name as anything other than its ties to the geographic region of the deep south, especially the Confederate states. The name is then also by default linked to the Confederate flag, slave auctions, Confederate soldiers, etc. Having your brand tied to these things does not work well if you are trying to attract a diverse student population.
Not only is the name difficult in the sense that it doesn’t attract students, but the students that then graduate from Dixie State University are often questioned in graduate school or in job interviews regarding the name. Simply put, I am concerned about not only the ability of the University to attract students but also about the graduate students' future success with such an ambiguous name. St. George is one of the fastest growing areas in the country and Dixie State University is by default one of the fastest growing schools in the country. While locals may valiantly support tradition and want to keep the University’s name, a large majority of the country sees the term Dixie as being connected to the south, the Confederacy, and racism. The school is a public institution and as such should be inclusive to all who choose to enroll.
In my experienced opinion, it is definitely in the best interest of the students, faculty, city, and state to change the name Dixie State University. Thank you for your support.