Letter to the Editor: ‘Saint George University,’ a compromise for our community

Dixie State University campus, St. George, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of Dixie State University, St. George News

OPINION — When the pioneers built the St. George Stake Academy, they surely couldn’t have imagined the thriving university Dixie State University is today. These hard-working, peculiar, and beautiful people built this place, and several generations have contributed to its success. This isn’t just about funding. This is about community.

A group of Dixie State University students participating in Alternative Breaks over spring break pose for a photo, March, 2021 | Photo courtesy of Holly Hurtado, St. George News.

While we don’t own the school, our community deserves a say; the Utah legislature supports this, as they issued the compromise legislation asking DSU to include us. DSU surveyed our community and received an overwhelming response—over 14,000 respondents—we love DSU! As Dixie State’s name change committee pointed out, location and mission were the top two priorities for the people of Southern Utah.

With the rich heritage and unique landscape that Southern Utah provides, it’s likely our community did not mean “Utah” for our location focus. And, as we all know, the “tech” focus came from DSU’s new shift to a polytechnic focus. Also revealing were the community’s top name choices for the university.

The top two names were Dixie and St. George (Dixie 46.9% and St. George 45.6%). If DSU’s Board of Trustees, Utah’s Board of Higher Education, and Utah’s legislature have all approved a name change for Dixie, is there a name that preserves our community’s tie to DSU? The answer is a resounding yes.

Not only would the St. George name return Dixie State to its roots (the original name), but it would also bring recollection of the great pioneer, George Albert Smith, who settled nearly all of Southern Utah. Smith’s heritage connection to our area is why the mayors of Saint George, Santa Clara, Hurricane, Washington City, and Ivins have given their support for his name (please thank them). His story is every whit the heritage our community reveres.

Smith, a potato farmer making his way westward, would eat the skins of the potatoes, so as to allow his family to enjoy the delicious flesh of the potatoes. When his family was hit with scurvy—and he lost one of his wives and four children—he learned potato peels could cure it. His loss and discovery would spare many others that hardship, as he blazed his way back across the plains to plant potatoes for others making their way west, hence the nickname “Saint George.” What could be more fitting for DSU than a literal trailblazer? The St. George name also fits DSU’s current Mission Statement:

…the enrichment of the professional and personal lives of its students and community by providing opportunities that engage the unique Southern Utah environment.

We hope DSU will continue to include our community in all it does. The enrichment that comes from our unique environment includes the rich heritage of our area. As DSU continues to grow and gather new programs, we must continue to value this focus. There is great value in the rich heritage of the Southern Utah community, and since DSU’s mission reflects this, our name should too.

Let’s preserve our community’s connection to DSU. If you’d like to join in support of the St. George name, please sign and share our petition!

Submitted by ALEXIS ENCE, Santa Clara.

Letters to the Editor are not the product of St. George News, its editors, staff or news contributors. The matters stated and opinions given are the responsibility of the person submitting them. They do not reflect the product or opinion of St. George News and are given only light edit for technical style and formatting.

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