Utah Tech University

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Utah Tech University
The presidential seal of Utah Tech University, with a representation of the red rocks behind it
Seal of Utah Tech University
Other name
Former name
St. George Stake Academy (1911–1913)
Dixie Academy (1913–1916)
Dixie Normal College (1916–1923)
Dixie Junior College (1923–?)
Dixie College (?–2000)
Dixie State College (2000–2013)
Dixie State University (2013–2022)
TypePublic university[1]
EstablishedSeptember 19, 1911; 110 years ago (1911-09-19)
Parent institution
Utah System of Higher Education
PresidentRichard "Biff" Williams (since July 2014)[2]
Academic staff
Students12,266 (Fall 2021)[3]
Undergraduates12,201 (Fall 2021)[3]
Postgraduates65 (Fall 2021)[3]

37°5′43″N 113°34′40″W / 37.09528°N 113.57778°W / 37.09528; -113.57778Coordinates: 37°5′43″N 113°34′40″W / 37.09528°N 113.57778°W / 37.09528; -113.57778
* Dixie (main) campus: 100.11 acres (41 ha)
* Off-campus property: 97.1 acres (39 ha)
ColorsRed, white, blue
Sporting affiliations
NCAA Division IWAC
MascotBrooks the Bison
Utah Tech monogram logo

Utah Tech University (UT), formerly known as Dixie State University and by similar names, and colloquially as Dixie, is a public university in St. George, Utah, in the state's Dixie region.[4] The university offers 4 master's degrees, 45 bachelor's degrees, 11 associate degrees, 44 minors, and 23 certificates/endorsements.[5] In the fall of 2021, there were 12,266 students enrolled at (then) DSU.[3] The student body was 58% female and 42% male with 24% of the student body being minority (non-white) students.[3]

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.[6] Until 2000, it was a two-year junior college named Dixie College. In 2000 the institution was renamed Dixie State College. In February 2013 the school officially became Dixie State University.[6] In November 2021, after controversy over the use of the term "Dixie" in the school's name, the state legislature approved the bill that allowed the school to become Utah Tech University. The school started using the name in mid-May 2022, though the legal change doesn't occur until July 2022.[7]

UT's 16 athletic teams compete in NCAA Division I and are collectively known as the Utah Tech Trailblazers. The Trailblazers football team joined the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference in 2016,[8] and the Women's Swimming team competes in the Pacific Collegiate Swim Conference,[9] but DSU's 14 other teams belonged to the PacWest Conference.[10] Dixie State reclassified to NCAA Division I in 2019[11] and joined the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) beginning in the 2020–2021 season. [12]


The former Dixie Academy building in St. George, the original home of St. George Stake Academy

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. The academy, located in a region called "Utah's Dixie" by Brigham Young and local settlers,[13] was renamed to Dixie Academy in 1913[14] Dixie Normal College in 1916, and Dixie Junior College in 1923.[14] 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.[15]

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.[15]

Between 1935 and 1963 there were close calls when various state leaders proposed closing the college, but the local citizens were 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.[15]

UT Holland Centennial Commons and Clock Tower

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.[16] 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.

In 2011, a bill was drafted for the review of the Utah State Legislature and the Utah State Governor to support Dixie State College's transition to university status.[17]

The institution contracted with a local advertising firm, Sorenson Advertising, to investigate names for the institution as a university[18] and found that alumni overwhelmingly supported the name Dixie while less than half of faculty/staff supported the name Dixie (p. 48).[19] Controversy over the name Dixie has arisen many times.[20] In December 2020, the university's board of trustees unanimously voted to recommend removing the word Dixie from the school's name.[21]

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.[22]

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),[23] 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.[24]

"Dixie" name, Confederacy symbols, and mascot changes[edit]

The Dixie College sports teams were called the Rebels starting in 1952 and a Confederate soldier was used as a mascot starting in 1956.[25] Until 1994, the university used the Confederate Battle Flag as a school symbol (and for a time, still used a reminiscent pattern of stripes with stars after dropping it),[26] and the yearbook was called The Confederate.[27][28][14] The Salt Lake Tribune described the yearbooks containing "troubling photos, some as late as the early 1990s", in which "White students sing in black face, dress as Confederate soldiers, stage slave auctions and affectionately display the Confederate battle standard."[14]

In 2009, the school dropped its "Rodney the Rebel" mascot and "the Rebels" as the name for the sports teams, renaming the teams to Red Storm, with a bull mascot.[25][29] The sports team name was eventually changed to Trailblazers with Brooks the Bison as the mascot in 2016.[30]

Dixie State University (DSU) institutional logo (2013–2022)

The process of changing the university's name began in June 2020[31] during the George Floyd protests in the midst of the 2020–2022 racial unrest and the Black Lives Matter movement. In December 2020, both the university board of trustees and the Utah Board of Higher Education unanimously voted to recommend a name change to the state legislature, which established the name in state law.[31] Although the legislature delegated the task to a committee that collected suggestions[32] and decided on Utah Polytechnic State University, the Dixie board of trustees recommended Utah Tech University after the original proposed name received negative community input.[33] The Utah System of Higher Education voted unanimously to recommend the name change to Utah Tech University which the Utah State Legislature approved with the condition that the main St. George campus will be named the "Dixie Campus" of UT. The name change takes effect July 1, 2022.[34] [7]

2014 termination of a professor[edit]

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 tenured status he was allowed to request a termination appeal hearing as outlined in (then) DSU Policy.[35] A reinstatement petition was started by students that ultimately garnered over 1,400 signatures, and 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.[36] In the final review of the hearing evidence and testimony, University President Richard 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 City of St. George filed Class B misdemeanor charges in Justice Court and a trial was held in 2016, with the jury finding the professor not guilty.[37]

2015 accusation of censorship[edit]

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.[38] The university disapproved the request because the fliers violated school policy by mocking people.[38] 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.[38] 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.[39][40] A few months later, Dixie State University settled the lawsuit with the three plaintiffs involved in the case.[41] The university agreed to pay the students $50,000 total in damages and attorney fees.[41] The university also agreed to revise its speech policies that the three plaintiffs said were restrictive and vague.[41]


The primary campus of Utah Tech University is in St. George, Utah (known as the "Dixie Campus" in ode to it's former name)The Hurricane Education Center campus extension located in Hurricane, Utah, is 20 minutes to the east. At the center of UT campus is the Encampment Mall, where Mormon pioneers first camped when they arrived in 1861 to settle and grow cotton in the desert.[42]


Part of the campus of Dixie State University

The university offers over 150 academic programs.[43] Dixie State currently offers 3 master's degrees, 52 bachelor's degrees with 65 different emphases, as well as 19 associate degrees, 36 minors, and 16 certificate options.[44] On January 26, 2018, the university added its first graduate degree program, a Master of Accountancy.[45]

The university is split into six colleges:

  • College of the Arts
  • College of Business
  • College of Education
  • College of Health Sciences
  • College of Humanities and Social Sciences
  • College of Science, Engineering, and Technology

Student life[edit]

Utah Tech University's Student Association (UTSA) 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 UTSA 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.[46] All Executive Council members and most Managers receive some sort of financial aid in return for their work.[47]

Various responsibilities fall to UTSA 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 UTSA, and if chosen is asked to maintain good academic and community standing, while abiding by the university's other rules and bylaws.[48]

The UTSA Inter-Club Council (ICC) comprises all the university club presidents and UTSA's Club Council. ICC meetings are held bi-weekly and club presidents are encouraged to attend.[49]

In August 2019, students of (then) DSU created a nationally recognized chapter of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity. [1]


Utah Tech University competes in NCAA Division I as a full member of the Western Athletic Conference (WAC). Previously, Dixie played in the Intermountain Collegiate Athletic Conference.[50] The teams are collectively known as the Dixie State University Trailblazers—an identity which was unveiled on April 11, 2016.[51] Ken Beazer serves as Executive Director of Intercollegiate Athletics and is in his first year replacing former director Jason Boothe. During Boothe's 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.[52] In July 2020, Dixie State began the multi-year reclassification process to NCAA Division I.[12] The Trailblazers began competition against Division I opponents in the 2020–21 season, joining the WAC and the football program will compete as a FCS independent.[12]

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.[53]

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).[54] The football team went on to win that game, marking its first season-opening win since August 2009.[55]

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 the Bison first arrived in the stadium.

The Utah Tech student section is called "The Stampede" and is run by the Utah Tech Student Association.

The Trailblazers 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.

Athletic facilities[edit]

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.[56] 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.[57] 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.[58]

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 UT- Dixie 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,[59] 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).

UT's women's volleyball plays in the Old Gymnasium, located in the Student Activities Center.[60] The Old Gymnasium has seating for just under 1,500 spectators, and offers close, intimate views from nearly every seat.

Utah Tech 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.[61]

Utah Tech 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.[62]

Utah Tech University women's swim team competes in the Human Performance Center which holds a 50-meter Olympic-sized swimming pool, grandstands that 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.

Utah Tech University golf teams call Entrada Golf Course their home. The off-campus course is known for its breathtaking scenery due to its location near Snow Canyon State Park.

Utah Tech's tennis team plays at the Utah Tech 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 UT 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.

Notable alumni[edit]

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]