Dixie State University has redefined itself several times over the years since it was established in 1911 as St. George Academy with 42 students enrolled. Founded by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for the purpose of providing opportunities for higher education in turn-of-the-century southern Utah, the school later became Dixie Normal College, then, in 1923 was re-named Dixie Junior College. In 1970, the designation as a junior college was dropped and the 2-year institution became Dixie College. In 2000, the southwestern Utah school became a 4-year college offering baccalaureate degrees. The name was again changed – this time to Dixie State College of Utah – and enrollment reached approximately 7000 students. Today, the school, under the direction of President Richard “Biff” Williams, is known as Dixie State University, so designated by the Utah Legislature and the Utah Board of Regents in 2013.
Name changes at Dixie are still being considered. Sports and academic teams and mascots competed for many years as the Rebels, but in 2009 – because of the growing perception relating to slavery – the Rebels became the “Red Storm.” For several years, this team name and logo was met with negativity by longtime supporters and students who questioned its significance in southern Utah. Current university President Williams recently announced a new strategic plan for DSU which took more than a year to complete and involves input from hundreds of local residents and professionals who worked together to create a solid and comprehensive plan to guide the university into the next decade … and which also includes the creation of a new identity with a more fitting team name and logo.
The University offers over 150 academic programs with baccalaureate degrees in Accounting, Art, Biology, Business Administration, Communications, Computer and Information Technology, Computer Science, Criminal Justice, Dance, Dental Hygiene, Elementary Education, English, Finance, History, Individualized Studies, Integrated Studies, Music, Music Education, Nursing, Psychology, Physical Science Composite Teaching, Spanish, Social Sciences Composite Teaching, and Theatre, while Dixie State University continuously works to provide more. New dorms are currently under construction to provide growth for student enrollment. A Human Performance Center will break ground in the very near future. DOCUtah, a growing documentary film festival held every year in September, is seeing increasing attendance and recognition by local, national and international filmmakers – and the Sears Invitational Art Show in February displays magnificent art from painters, sculptors from all over the United States – both events under the direction of faculty and staff at Dixie State University. There is much to love about our local university and is on track to becoming the best university of its size in the nation.
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