Q&A with Nikki Clifton (J.D.'96)
Recently School of Law alumna K. Nicole "Nikki" Clifton shared thoughts regarding her late father, Dr. Ivery Clifton, receiving the 2021 University of Georgia President's Medal. Ivery was a former faculty member and administrator in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and UGA associate vice president for academic affairs.
The President’s Medal, one of the university's highest honors, recognizes extraordinary contributions of individuals who are not current employees of UGA and who have supported students and academic programs, advanced research and inspired community leaders to enhance the quality of life of citizens in Georgia. The honor is awarded in conjunction with UGA’s annual Founders Day celebration.
Q: Your father was a longtime professor and administrator at UGA. How important was higher education to him?
A: My father firmly believed that higher education is the cornerstone of opportunity. He was the first in his family to earn a bachelor's degree and he went on to earn both a master's degree and a Ph.D. My father readily understood the life changing experiences higher education afforded. Both he and my mother, a retired principal, instilled the value of higher education in me and my sister from an early age and set the expectation for academic accomplishment beyond a bachelor's degree. Importantly, my father understood that not everyone had the same access to higher education and he prioritized advancing equity and diversity for students and faculty during his administrative tenure at UGA. My father extended himself as a mentor and a champion to countless students. He invited them to dinner at our house, to worship at our church and created a support network because he knew how important that was to ensuring their success.
Q: What is your favorite UGA memory with your father?
A: Definitely cheering on the Dawgs at Sanford Stadium! When I was young, we'd ride to the games in his truck, listening to Leonard's Losers and the Larry Munson pregame show on the radio. I recall an occasion where he was invited to watch the game in the President's box and he took me with him. I had never viewed the game from that vantage point and I had the distinct feeling that he'd done something really special to have that opportunity. Later in life, my Dad preferred to watch the games at home with a big supply of boiled or roasted peanuts. I developed my love for college football because of those special moments.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to share about your father and his life – UGA-related or not?
A: I've learned so much about my father after he passed away. He was a humble man and preferred to let his actions speak for him. One non-UGA item of interest is about his military service. When he returned from the Vietnam War, his Army Reserve unit was responsible for guarding Arlington National Cemetery to ensure that no harm came to the property. He later retired from the Army Reserves as a Lieutenant Colonel. He simultaneously served our country and the University of Georgia for decades, and we are extremely proud that he is now resting in honor in Arlington National Cemetery.
Photo: Ivery and Nikki Clifton at Nikki's wedding in 2019.
Nikki leads UPS’ global philanthropy, social impact and community engagement efforts. UPS is one of the world's largest package delivery companies with more than 500,000 employees who provide a broad range of integrated logistics solutions for customers in more than 220 countries and territories.