Dixie State University
|Established||September 19, 1911|
|President||Richard Biff Williams|
* Main campus: 100.11 acres (41 ha)
* Off-campus property: 97.1 acres (39 ha)
|Colors||Red, White, and Blue|
|NCAA Division I – Western Athletic Conference|
|Mascot||Brooks the Bison|
Dixie State University (DSU or, colloquially, Dixie) is a public university in St. George, Utah, in the state's Dixie region. The university offers 4 master's degrees, 45 bachelor's degrees, 11 associate degrees, 44 minors, and 23 certificates/endorsements. As of Fall 2019, there are 11,193 students enrolled at DSU, and the university has an 80% acceptance rate. The student body is 56% female and 44% male, and DSU is in the top three for diversity in the state of Utah, with 23% of the student body being minority students.
The institution began as St. George Stake Academy, founded in 1911 by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). Later it became a state school of the Utah System of Higher Education. In February 2013, the former Dixie State College, as it had been known since 2000, officially became Dixie State University.
DSU's 15 athletic teams compete in NCAA Division I and are collectively known as the Dixie State Trailblazers. The Trailblazers football team joined the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference in 2016, and the Women's Swimming team competes in the Pacific Collegiate Swim Conference, but DSU's 13 other teams belong to the PacWest Conference. Dixie State announced that the university will reclassify to NCAA Division I and join the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) beginning in the 2020–2021 season. As the WAC does not sponsor football, Dixie State's football program will compete as a FCS independent.
The institution was founded by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) on September 19, 1911, as St. George Stake Academy. In 1916, the academy, located in a region called "Utah's Dixie" by Brigham Young and local settlers, became Dixie Normal College, and then, in 1923, the name was changed to Dixie Junior College. In 1933, the LDS Church discontinued its support of the college, and rather than give up on it, the local citizenry came together and maintained the school's operation through donations and labor for two years.
In 1935, the State Board of Education took over the funding for the school, but wanted to split the college students from the high school students, with the high school moving under the direction of Washington County. The community resisted, feeling that the approximate 200 college students and similar number of high school students needed to be combined to provide a good-sized student body for the many social and academic programs. Another concern was that the county did not have the funds to build a new high school.
Between 1935 and 1963 there were close calls when various state leaders proposed closing the college, but the local citizens were fiercely loyal to the college and willing to donate to keep it alive. These local citizens, particularly the Dixie Education Association, raised the funds to purchase four blocks of land on 700 East and 100 South for a new campus. They presented that land to the state which, in turn, agreed to fund a few buildings for a new campus there. In 1957 the gymnasium was finished and by 1963 four other buildings were ready for college students with the high school students remaining on the downtown campus.
On September 7, 2007, Dixie State College Board of Trustees members announced that Dixie State College of Utah would petition the University of Utah to become the University of Utah–St. George. The proposal was approved by the Dixie State College Board of Trustees on October 7, 2007, and by the University of Utah Board of Trustees on October 14, 2007; however, this did not come to fruition.
The institution contracted with a local advertising firm, Sorenson Advertising, to investigate names for the institution as a university and found that alumni overwhelmingly supported the name "Dixie" while less than half of faculty/staff supported the name "Dixie" (p. 48). Controversy over the name "Dixie" has arisen many times.
In 2013, the Utah Legislature changed the status of the institution from a college to a university and named it Dixie State University. Governor Gary Herbert signed the bill into law in a ceremony on campus, calling the new university into existence on February 16, 2013. President Stephen Nadauld of Dixie State University and others recognized this step as the fulfillment of the dream of the original Mormon pioneers of the area to have a university for their communities. That same year the Board of Trustees approved a student driven proposed campus-wide tobacco ban. The ban prohibits all tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes. The ban went into effect on January 1, 2014.
Also in 2013, Dixie State University student Indigo Klabanoff pushed for the creation of a sorority and its financial support. DSU did not approve it or the creation of clubs with Greek letters in their names (excepting honor societies), because they said introducing Greek Life properly requires significant funding and the inherent "partying" stereotype of a Greek system was not a culture they wanted to encourage on campus.
In December 2014, theater professor Varlo Davenport received a notice of dismissal and termination of employment in connection with a student complaint of an alleged assault but because of his tenure was allowed to request a termination appeal hearing as outlined in DSU Policy. A reinstatement petition was started by students that ultimately garnered over 1,400 signatures, many letters were also sent to the State Board of Regents from the community and faculty members. A faculty review board convened, and after hearing testimony and evidence from both sides, recommended Davenport's reinstatement. In the final review of the hearing evidence and testimony, DSU President Williams found the faculty review board's recommendation to be contrary to the information presented. He rejected the recommendation and upheld the termination. Members of the faculty review board subsequently met with President Williams, pressing for a change in his decision. They were unsuccessful. The student pressed charges and the City of St. George agreed to file Class B misdemeanor charges in Justice Court. In the ensuing 2016 City of St. George v. Davenport trial, the jury found him not guilty.
Accusations of censorship
In 2015, in accordance with school policy, three students requested permission from the university to post fliers with satirical images of former President George W. Bush and revolutionary leader Che Guevara on campus. The university disapproved the request because the fliers violated school policy by mocking people. The three students filed a lawsuit against Dixie State University in federal court, stating that the university violated their Constitutional right to free speech with an overly restrictive and overly vague school policy.
Shortly thereafter, President Williams announced that all campus policies that infringed upon free expression and free speech were temporarily rescinded and new directives were being drafted. A few months later, Dixie State University settled the lawsuit with the three plaintiffs involved in the case. The university agreed to pay the students $50,000 total in damages and attorney fees. The university also agreed to revise its speech policies that the three plaintiffs said were restrictive and vague.
The primary campus of Dixie State University is in St. George, Utah. The Hurricane Education Center campus extension located in Hurricane, Utah, is 20 minutes to the east. At the center of DSU campus is the Encampment Mall, where Mormon pioneers first camped when they arrived in 1861 to settle and grow cotton in the desert.
The university offers over 150 academic programs. Dixie State currently offers three master's degrees, 52 bachelor's degrees with 65 different emphases, as well as 19 associate degrees, 36 minors, and 16 certificate options. On January 26, 2018, the university added its first graduate degree program, a Master of Accountancy.
Dixie State University's Student Association (DSUSA) is a federated student administrative body overseeing the functions, funding, and promotion of official student organizations. Executive and legislative power is primarily vested in an elected Executive Council, the President's Cabinet, and the Student Senate. Student clubs interact with the DSUSA governing bodies primarily through non-elected Club Representatives. Club Representatives work on behalf of the following organizational categories: Academic Clubs, Student Organizations, Non-Traditional Clubs, Multicultural and Diversity Clubs, Health Science Clubs, and Athletic and Recreation Clubs. All Executive Council members and most Managers receive some sort of financial aid in return for their work.
Various responsibilities fall to DSUSA including the planning of most on-campus events, charity and service work, and relations between university students and the school's faculty and surrounding community. Any student is able to apply for any position in DSUSA, and if chosen is asked to maintain good academic and community standing, while abiding by the university's other rules and bylaws.
The DSUSA Inter-Club Council (ICC) comprises all the university club presidents and DSUSA's Club Council. ICC meetings are held bi-weekly and club presidents are encouraged to attend.
Dixie State University competes in NCAA Division I as a full member of the Western Athletic Conference (WAC). The teams are collectively known as the Dixie State University Trailblazers—an identity which was unveiled on April 11, 2016. Jason Boothe serves as the university athletic director and is in his 8th year. During his first seven years at the helm, Dixie State continued to establish itself as a powerful NCAA Division II program as it experienced high levels of success both on and off the courts and fields. In July 2020, Dixie State will begin the multi-year reclassification process to NCAA Division I. The Trailblazers will begin competition against Division I opponents in the 2020–21 season, joining the WAC and the football program will compete as a FCS independent.
The trailblazers have won 16 PacWest Championships, 5 PacWest Community Engagement Awards, and have appeared in 34 NCAA Division II tournaments. The men's basketball team appeared in the sweet sixteen in 2011 and the women's volleyball appeared in 2014. The women's softball team has appeared in the College World Series three times and finished as runner up of the 2015 College World Series. The athletic department as a whole has completed 8,500 hours of community service since 2010 and held a grade point average of 2.97 during the 2016–2017 academic year.
The Trailblazers' mascot is Brooks the Bison, who made his first appearance on September 1, 2016, during half-time at the Fall 2016 football season-opener against New Mexico Highlands in Greater Zion Stadium (formerly known as Legend Solar Stadium). The football team went on to win that game, marking its first season-opening win since August, 2009.
The mascot is named after the first student in the institution's history, Samuel Brooks, who slept on the steps outside what was then St. George Stake Academy to be the first to pay the $10 tuition the next morning. The descended family of Samuel Brooks sat in the stands and was recognized when Brooks first arrived in the stadium.
The Dixie State student section is called "The Stampede" and is run by the Dixie State University Student Association.
Dixie's Men's soccer team, won the PacWest 2016 championship by going 13–0, for the first time in school history. They also earned 11 PacWest Postseason Honors. Bradley Tella earned Goalkeeper of the year, and Bryan Baugh was named First team all-conference.
The Trailblazers football, soccer, and track and field teams compete in Greater Zion Stadium, formerly known as Hansen Stadium, and shortly known as Legend Solar Stadium. On April 29, 2016, Legend Solar announced it a donation of $10 million in cash and trade toward the renovation of DSU's stadium. The west grandstand was previously named "Hansen Grandstand" in honor of the George T. Hansen family, who funded the construction of the stadium in the 1980s and who support the renaming and renovation of Legend Solar Stadium. In April 2018, Legend Solar and Dixie State parted ways due to financial troubles for the solar company. As of January 2020, the Dixie State stadium is now known as "Greater Zion Stadium" since the school reached an agreement with the Washington County Greater Zion Convention and Tourism Office that included naming rights for the stadium as well as planned expansions to DSU's athletic facilities.
The planned renovations include the construction of an east grandstand (completed in 2019); an addition to the top of the west grandstand for banquet rooms, executive boxes, and new press box (in progress as of October 2020); a renovation below the west grandstand to create new locker rooms and training facilities (in progress as of October 2020); a new scoreboard and video board (completed in October 2020) and the installation of solar panels and a 1,500-kilowatt system in the stadium and throughout the DSU campus.
The Trailblazers basketball teams play in the Burns Arena, named after Dixie alumnus and donor M. Anthony Burns. The arena contains over 4,700 permanent seats, and recently underwent multiple upgrades, including adding a new large-scale video board and scoreboard hanging above mid-court (funds donated by Mountain America Credit Union).
DSU women's volleyball plays in the Old Gymnasium, located in the Student Activities Center. The Old Gymnasium has seating for just under 1,500 spectators, and offers close, intimate views from nearly every seat.
Dixie State University baseball has called Bruce Hurst Field their home since 1994. Named after St. George native and former Major League pitcher Bruce Hurst, the stadium has seen its share of great teams in both the junior college and NCAA Division-II ranks. The field features a natural grass surface in the infield and outfield. Fences are 12 feet high from the foul poles to the batter's eye in center, which extends to 20 feet high. Hurst Field sits 2,500 capacity, with a reserved section of seats in the main seating bowl. Nine field-level boxes were added in 2008 right behind home plate to complement four boxes just beyond the first base dugout. The complex also hosts multiple high school baseball tournaments and summer league games.
Dixie State University softball has called Karl Brooks Field its home since construction of the Cooper Diamonds. The field has played home to multiple runs for the Trailblazers toward Pacific West Conference and Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference championships. The complex hosted the 2009 West Regional and Super Regional during DSU's run to the Division-II College Softball Championships.
Dixie State University women's swim team competes in the Human Performance Center which holds a 50-meter Olympic-sized swimming pool, grandstands which can hold a capacity of 750 attendees, a large-scale video board, 2 movable bulk heads, two 3-meter and two 1-meter diving springboards, and a 20-person spa. The Human Performance Center also houses a multi-story gym, multiple basketball courts, an indoor soccer court, a large climbing wall, pickleball courts, indoor/outdoor running track, classrooms and labs, and more.
Dixie State University golf teams call Entrada Golf Course their home. The off-campus course is known for it's breathtaking scenery due to its location near Snow Canyon State Park.
Dixie State's tennis team plays at the Dixie State Tennis Courts. Their old courts were demolished in 2018 to make room for the construction of the Human Performance Center and a larger parking lot. The new courts were constructed in place of an old parking lot just a block West of campus.
The Frank Habibian Wrestling and Athletic Center was constructed in 2010 and houses a 6,400-square-foot weight training facility for DSU student-athletes, along with 4,800 square feet dedicated to youth and college club wrestling. In addition, the Habibian Center houses locker-room facilities for the men and women soccer teams, two coaches’ offices, and one classroom.
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