Utah Tech University

Our History


Utah Tech University’s history goes all the way back to the settlement of St. George in 1857, when leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints asked 38 families to move to the southwest corner of Utah to establish a town and grow cotton. The encampment mall where these pioneers parked their covered wagons, raised their families, and taught their children school lessons is now the center of Utah Tech’s campus.

When the community was ready for a more formal college in 1909, the LDS Church began construction on the institution, then called St. George Stake Academy. A true community effort, Washington County residents funded $35,000 of the $55,000 project that was built on the corner of Main Street and 100 South. When the academy was ready to open in September 1911, Samuel Brooks was eager to earn an education and waited on the front steps beginning at 4 a.m. the day that registration opened so he could be the first student to enroll. A trailblazer in his own right, Samuel Brooks is who Utah Tech’s mascot, Brooks the Bison, got his name from.

During the Great Depression when the LDS Church withdrew its support of the college, the community acted as trailblazers again, covering the operational costs for two years until the state was prepared to assume ownership. The institution survived this period of transition thanks to the generous help of the community and their passion for education.

In 1950, when the institution desperately needed student housing, the residents of Washington County stepped in again, forming the Dixie Education Association and purchasing property where student housing would be built. College employees even donated their time and efforts to help with the construction. This dedication paid off when this show of support convinced the state to continue funding the college after it had been ordered to close it in 1953.

Around the same time when it became clear that the college would continue to grow and need more space, the community raised money to purchase the six city blocks where pioneers first settled St. George in 1861. By the fall of 1963, the institution officially moved to its new home.

In the late 1990s, Washington County residents again appealed to the Utah Legislature, this time to petition for the addition of baccalaureate degrees to the college’s associate programs. Thanks to excellent leadership and tireless community effort, the college was granted approval to award bachelor’s degrees in business administration and computer science in March.

The college continued to add baccalaureate programs and just two years after celebrating its centennial gained university status in 2013. Made possible with the dedication and support of the community, university status means expanded opportunities for the storied institution. The University continues to grow and adapted a polytechnic approach to education starting in 2016 and master’s degrees in 2018.

Today, Utah Tech University’s more than 200 academic programs offer transformative experiences across all disciplines – humanities, arts, education, health sciences, business, and STEM. UT students learn by doing, take advantage of real-world learning through industry partnerships, and graduate career ready.


Utah Tech University came by its name through many changes. When the school first opened in 1911, it was called St. George Stake Academy. It offered three years of high school, and in 1912 the fourth year was added, allowing students to graduate from high school.

Then in 1913, the name was updated to Dixie Academy. The word Dixie was used as a nod to the community’s founding in 1857, when 38 families moved to St. George to establish a town and grow cotton. Because of the nature of the work, families originally from southern states who had experience growing this crop were asked to lead the effort. These pioneers were the first to call Washington County Dixie, perhaps out of habit, but also due to the region’s isolation from the rest of the state, the fact that cotton was being grown, and the temperate climate that is comparable to that of the South. Even though cotton production halted in 1870, the nickname endured.

A year of teacher preparation was added in 1914 and the second year of college courses began in in 1916. As a result of these changes, the school’s name was changed to Dixie Normal College. Normal was used to mean teacher preparation.

In 1923, the word Normal was removed from the college name because many students were taking two years of college in fields other than education, and the name Dixie Junior College was adopted. That name was retained until 1970, when the name was changed to Dixie College.

The next major development occurred in 2000. Following a long effort by a committee of local residents, the Utah State Legislature authorized the institution to become a four-year state college with the name Dixie State College of Utah. Associate Degrees were still offered but so were four-year bachelor’s degrees. The institution did not abandon its role as a community college but added focus on four-year programs in many fields. Much of this expansion was linked to the growth of the county that was ten times its population in 1965.

In 2013, the Utah State Legislature expanded the role of the institution to become a university and open the door for more robust learning opportunities and graduate degrees to be offered. As a result, the name was changed to Dixie State University to reflect the institution’s university status.

After hearing an increasing number of first-hand accounts from recent graduates of how the institution’s name was affecting them and their career and grad school goals, the institution started researching the impacts of the Dixie name beginning in July 2020. A third-party impact study that elicited 3,700 responses found the name was having negative impacts on alumni and the University’s ability to recruit students, faculty, and staff. With this information, the institution underwent a comprehensive, two-year-long name recommendation process, which resulted in the University being renamed Utah Tech University starting July 1, 2022.

Institutional Names Over the Years

  • 1911–1913 – ST. GEORGE STAKE ACADEMY
  • 1913–1916 – DIXIE ACADEMY
  • 1916–1923 – DIXIE NORMAL COLLEGE
  • 1923–1971 – DIXIE JUNIOR COLLEGE
  • 1971–2000 – DIXIE COLLEGE
  • 2022-Present – UTAH TECH UNIVERSITY