ST. GEORGE University of Utah officials made it clear on Thursday that any proposed affiliation between Dixie State College and the state's flagship university comes with several iron-clad conditions.
"There are 10 conditions upon which the university would be willing to move forward," said Randy Dryer, chairman of the U.'s Board of Trustees. "Dixie cannot be part of the name, and since the University of Utah would be responsible for the success or failure of the college, it would have to have full administrative control."
The U.'s conditions are detailed in an Oct. 22 letter to the DSC Board of Trustees, which met early Thursday to discuss the proposal's progress. A six-member task force representing both schools is already in place and has met at least twice on the Dixie campus.
Under the proposal, DSC would become the University of Utah-St. George and lose the nickname "Rebels." The U.'s president would also retain direct control over administrative and fiscal policies at the new school, the U.'s letter states.
"From the U.'s perspective, the university is a national player with international scope," Dryer said. "Here in Utah, we understand there is a difference between Utah's Dixie and the Dixie of the old South. To the rest of the world, it means the Confederacy and slavery. The name is an issue of great importance to the university."
Dryer said the DSC board of trustees is "willing to give up the name and local control. It's not an issue for them."
At Thursday's meeting, however, Dryer heard from other DSC supporters with a different point of view. More than 500 DSC alumni and other members of the community signed a petition expressing their objection to the school's potential name change.
"There is a very large group of people who want Dixie or the name Dixie to be preserved in the best possible way," said St. George attorney Ralph Atkin, who attended the meeting. "The University of Utah could take the high road so easily and unite the community by considering naming it the University of Utah at Utah's Dixie."
But that simply isn't going to happen, said Shandon Gubler, DSC board of trustees chairman.
"The University of Utah has certain expectations, and these strong emotions really won't make a difference at all," Gubler said. "Frankly, there's not a thing we can do about it."
Atkin said many alumni are feeling disenfranchised by the process.
"There's a misconnect somewhere," he said. "We've never felt like we've had a fair hearing. Even so, I can't overemphasize the fact that the desire to work with the University of Utah is there. It's too bad the process didn't allow for more open discussion, in my view."
DSC trustee Steve Caplin, while supporting the concept of an affiliation with the U., continues to express his own discontent with the process. Caplin withdrew his formal support of the proposal last week until the governance issues can be clarified.
That process, said Gubler and Dryer, is likely to take the task force many months.
"We all just have to trust that at the end of the day this will be a thoughtful, thorough, transparent process," Gubler said. "There is nothing more that we can say about it. We just have to let the process run its course."
Once the joint task force completes an affiliation agreement, the document would be sent to the board of trustees at both schools for a vote. If it passes muster there, the Utah State Board of Regents would need to approve of the affiliation. Finally, the state Legislature would have to fund the new school.
At this point, no one knows how much money it would take to create the U.'s campus in St. George, Dryer said."We're realistic enough to know that this has to supported by more than the board of Dixie State College," said Dryer. "The community has to get behind this. It doesn't have to be unanimous, but we've had just enough of a question raised in our minds to wonder about it."