Utah Tech University

Our History

Explore nearly two centuries of history

Utah Tech University honors our pioneer founders for their never-ending grit and determination. Thanks to their hard work, we are able to call this beautiful land our home.

Foundings: 1850-1900s


1852: Harmony was founded by John D. Lee and Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints missionaries. They built a fort, opened a school, and farmed. Two years later, the town shifted a few miles to New Harmony.

1854: Latter-day Saints built a fort at Santa Clara as part of the Southern Indian Mission.

1857: The towns of Washington, Virgin, and Gunlock were founded.

1857: The Baker-Fancher wagon train was attacked during the Mountain Meadows Massacre. At least 120 members of the wagon train were murdered.


1861: St. George was built by over 300 Latter-day Saint families as part of the Southern Mission. They were asked to raise cotton, indigo, grapes, figs, sugar cane, and olives.

1862: St. George’s City Council met for the first time and Angus M. Cannon became the first mayor.

1864: Eliza R. Snow published "Dixie," a poem connecting St. George to Dixie, cotton, oil, and wine.

1867: Deseret Telegraph connected St. George to Salt Lake City.

1868 Our Dixie Times was the first newspaper published. It describes 1,500 residents living in 200-300 buildings on tree-lined streets. The newspaper quickly changed its name to The Rio Virgin Times. The change was to distinguish between St. George from states “late in rebellion” at the end of the Civil War.


1888: The first iteration of a St. George Stake Academy opened in the St. George Tabernacle. It offered classes in theology, grammar, arithmetic, hygiene, orthography, and others. This first academy only lasted a few years.

Constructing a Church School: 1900-1933


1907: Fundraising for a second iteration of the St. George Stake Academy successfully helped start a high school. Donations came from across Washington County, Utah; Littlefield, Arizona; and Mesquite, Nevada.

1911: St. George Stake Academy opened on September 19th as a high school. Classes included English, ancient history, plane geometry, domestic art, physics, music, and others. The $10 tuition was not enough to operate at a profit the first year.

1913: Academy students painted “Dixie” on the Sugarloaf.


1914: Senior students repainted the Sugarloaf with “1914 - D” to commemorate their class, called “the Dolphins”

1915: The 340 students started the annual D-Day celebration and painted a large "D" on the Black Ridge.

1916: The Gymnasium was the second building added to the Main Street campus.

1918: St. George Stake Academy officially changed the school name to Dixie Normal College. It added college classes to the existing high school. The change formally adopted the students’ colloquial name for the school.


1923: The institution’s name simplified to Dixie College. A new board of trustees was created for the college. The previous church board continued overseeing religion classes.

1924: The “fliers” was used as an athletic nickname for the high school basketball team. In 1927 the spelling was changed to “Flyers”.

1927: The Science Building was added across Main Street from the Gymnasium.

1930: The college operated at a financial loss at the beginning of the Great Depression.

1933: Dixie College became Dixie Junior College amid the Great Depression. Ownership of the institution was deeded by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to the State of Utah.

Transforming a Junior College: 1933-2000


1934: Dixie Junior College was accredited by the Northwestern Association of Secondary and Higher Schools.

1937: The Mechanical and Industrial Arts Building opened on the east side of Main Street behind the Science Building. It was funded by the Public Works Administration.

1948: The Annex building was added to the Main Street campus. It was southeast of the Mechanical and Industrial Arts Building. The building relocated from the Topaz Relocation Center after the end of World War II.


1951: The first Southern Quill, an annual literary and poetry journal, was published.

1951: The college sports teams adopted the “Rebels” athletic nickname. The high school teams retained the “Flyers” nickname.

1953: The Utah Legislature voted to drop Dixie Junior College as a state college in Senate Bill 39. They proposed returning ownership to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

1954: A successful petition opposing Senate Bill 39 initiated the referendum process. Voters during the elections decided the future ownership of Dixie Junior College. Washington County voters favored returning the school to the Church. However, the measure failed across the state. Dixie Junior College remained a state school.

1955: The land for a new campus (the current main campus location) was donated to the State of Utah.


1956: The Women’s Residence Hall, also known as the “Dixiana,” opened thanks to community donations of $90,000.

1963: The new college campus opened. Buildings included the Student Activity Center, Fine Arts Center, Science Building, Cafeteria, and Home Economics and Business Building.

1963: Dixie Junior College and Dixie High School split. Each became an independent institution at the end of the school year.

1968: Student enrollment doubled in size over five years and the campus expanded as a result. New construction included the Liberal Arts Building, Administration Building, Maintenance Building, auto shop, business facilities, and Shenandoah dormitory. The existing Dixiana and bookstore were also expanded.


1971: Dixie Junior College became Dixie College.

1972: A new Student Union Building opened on campus.

1975: A mural celebrating St. George’s history was added to the Graff building, and with a new water fountain nearby.

1980: Rodney the Rebel debuted as the new mascot.

1985: The basketball team won the NJCAA National Championship. It was the first national win for the college.

1987: The Dixie Center (now known as the Avenna Center) opened. The “Two Soldiers” statue of Confederate rebels was installed in the adjacent plaza.

1993: The battle flag of the Confederacy was banned on campus after much debate.

1996: The Udvar-Hazy Business building opened.

Establishing a 4-Year College: 2000-2013


2000: The college began offering bachelor's degree programs and was renamed Dixie State College of Utah.

2002: A re-envisioned "Rodney the Rebel" mascot replaced the previous confederate soldier version. The new mascot shared a resemblance to Indiana Jones.

2005: The new Russell Taylor Health Sciences Building was added off-campus near the hospital.

2005: “Reb the Red Hawk” became the new mascot while retaining the “Rebel” nickname.

2009: The college introduced the “Red Storm” athletic nickname and a red bull mascot named “Ragin’ Red”.

2011: “Big Dee” the bull debuted as a new mascot with the "Red Storm" nickname.

2012: The dedication of the Holland Centennial Commons celebrated the 100th anniversary of the school.

Achieving University Status: 2013-Today


2013: The college gained university status and became Dixie State University.

2016: The athletic teams became the “Trailblazers” with “Brooks the Bison” as the mascot.

2019: The Health and Human Performance Center opened.

2021: The Science, Engineering, and Technology building was added to the campus.

2022: The institutional name was changed to Utah Tech University.


Special Collections

Email: SpecialCollections@utahtech.edu