Ivery Dwight Clifton, a former senior administrator and professor emeritus of agricultural economics at the University of Georgia, died Jan. 1, 2020. He was 76.
During his 27 years at UGA, Clifton served the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences as a professor, department head and division chair of agricultural economics, interim dean and coordinator, and senior associate dean. He also served at the university level as associate vice president for academic affairs. Upon his retirement in 2003, Clifton was granted professor emeritus status in agricultural economics.
“Dr. Clifton provided extraordinary leadership and service in many important roles at the University of Georgia,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “He will forever be remembered for his valuable contributions.”
Clifton, a native Georgian, was the first African American to serve at the dean level at UGA, holding the position of interim dean and coordinator from 1994 to 1995 in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. During his time as interim dean, he emphasized the value and need for strategic planning and for diversity among the college’s faculty and clients.
He supported the Young Scholars Program, which took flight under the enthusiastic, insightful leadership of his wife, Pat. Last year, the program celebrated 30 years of successfully attracting minority students to the college and to agricultural science careers.
“Dr. Ivery Clifton was a true professional, a strong supporter of fairness, a respected academician, and a person of strong character who worked every day to support and help everyone,” said Gale Buchanan, former undersecretary of research, education and economics in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, who followed Clifton as dean of the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
The two administrators faced a period of monumental budget reductions and complete restructuring of the college, agricultural experiment stations and Cooperative Extension. They faced that challenge together.
“It was his strong commitment to creating a sense of unity and his vision for the future that led me to ask him to stay in CAES administration as senior associate dean when I became dean,” Buchanan said. “I could not have been successful in the tasks at hand in those days without him. He was a good friend.”
Clifton’s career was rooted in the fields of agricultural economics and university administration. He served in various positions spanning the USDA Economic Research Service and UGA.
He joined UGA’s department of agricultural economics in 1976 as an assistant professor after receiving his doctorate from the University of Illinois. He went on to earn a certificate in higher education management from the Harvard Business School Executive Education program in 1982.
Prior to his UGA career, Clifton earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Tuskegee University and spent six years with the USDA Economic Research Service. He was a Vietnam War veteran of the U.S. Army and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel from the U.S. Army Reserves after 27 years of service.
“Ivery Clifton was a patriot and a dedicated educator who committed 30 years of his life to making a brighter future for this university, this college and the students who were fortunate enough to have a seat in his classroom,” said Sam Pardue, dean and director of the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “We will miss his wise counsel and support, but his legacy will remain evident in this college for generations to come.”