Dr. Nathan Ivey flunked only one thing in his entire life – retirement. The academician was recently recognized for his distinguished career on his 85th birthday by Southwestern Michigan College, having served as the first President there from 1964 to 1968. It’s one of several community colleges – including the Dallas County Community College District – that bear his mark over a 58-year career, and he just can’t seem to quit.
“I always wanted to be an educator,” says Dr. Ivey, a gentle man with blue eyes, who looks much younger than his years. “One can influence the lives of individuals more in education than in any other profession.”
"I always wanted to be an educator."
This was brought home to him when he was only 21 and a high school teacher. A student of his, Delfino Torres, had come from dreadful poverty. With Dr. Ivey’s help, the boy became an honor student, going on to graduate studies in special education and later teaching.
Dr. Ivey’s niche in academia has always been community colleges. “I came along when community colleges were booming, and I could add my academic background to their planning for facilities,” explained Dr. Ivey, who helped establish two colleges from scratch and served as President for both: Southwestern Michigan College and John A. Logan College in Illinois.
Through his career, he also served as Dean of Odessa College, President of Colorado Northwestern Community College, and President of South Suburban College in Illinois. Locally, he was Director of Facilities Management and Planning for the Dallas County Community College District.
“One can influence the lives of individuals more in education than in any other profession.”
Today, Dr. Ivey lives at The Tradition-Prestonwood retirement community with his wife of 62 years, Dorothy, who was also an educator. They are proud of their three children: Sara Ivey, a local producer of film and television; Dr. James Ivey, a professor of theatre at the State University of New York; and Dr. Judith Ivey, an acclaimed actress currently playing in The Heiress on Broadway. And they enjoy four grandchildren.
His passion for education, however, still keeps him working and influencing lives. He is currently the community college liaison for the University of Texas at Dallas.
Regarding retirement, he told the UT at Dallas Dean of Undergraduate Education, “I think you’ll just have to fire me!”
The response? “Not a chance.”
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