Since its founding by the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1889, Weber State University has seen a number of name changes.
Initially it was Weber Stake Academy and then Weber Academy. In 1918 it was renamed Weber Normal College, then shortened to Weber College. After the LDS Church transferred ownership to the state, it became Weber State College. In 1991 the college gained university status and officially became Weber State University.
Through all the name changes, one part has remained constant: "Weber."
The name originates from early trapper John Henry Weber. We don't have to say how ingrained that name is now in the community.
There was some discussion of changing the name to Northern Utah University because of the possible confusion across the country as to where the school was located. Also some in the national media kept calling it "Webber" (WEB-bur) State.
In the end, it was decided "Weber" had a strong historical origin and should be kept as the primary name. Since then, diligent marketing and academic achievement have helped to counter any national confusion about where the school is located, or how to pronounce its name.
This is why we can relate to the furor being generated in Southern Utah over the name of Dixie State College as the institution prepares to make the transition to university status.
Some claim the name "Dixie" has racial overtones. But like Weber State in Northern Utah, Dixie State was started as an academy by the LDS Church and the name has local historical significance. The Mormon settlers gave the moniker to the area because of its southern locale in the territory, and the desire to create a cotton-growing region.
Because of this, we think the name should be Dixie State University.
However, the school made the proper decision to remove a confederate statue from campus last week. The sculpture did not symbolize the Mormon pioneer heritage of the area and was offensive to many people.
The school did away with its "Rebels" nickname for the same reason. They are now The Red Storm.
Promoting the local historic origins, while eliminating any association to the Confederacy, is the best way for advocates to approach keeping the "Dixie" name.
It's a lesson they can learn from their Weber (pronounced WEE-bur) friends up north.