The Clifton B. Knight Jr. ’74 Scholarship—Committed to Students and the Direction Carolina Law is Heading

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This article originally appeared in the February 2017 issue of Carolina Law.

Enjoying a successful career in New York City in media, the arts and entertainment, Clifton Brooks “Clif ” Knight Jr. has not forgotten his North Carolina roots. Knight—who serves as executive vice president for legal and business affairs and chief ethics and compliance officer at Bookspan LLC—grew up in Raleigh and earned his law degree from UNC School of Law in 1974 after receiving bachelor’s degrees in economics and sociology from North Carolina State University. Knight also holds an M.B.A. from New York University.

In appreciation of the importance of Carolina Law to his career, Knight recently made a transformational bequest to the school. The Clifton B. Knight Jr. Scholarship will be an annual endowed merit-based scholarship, established in recognition of Knight’s commitment to the students of Carolina Law and his belief in the unique character and place that the school holds at the university and within the state of North Carolina and beyond.

“Most importantly, this is a seminal moment for Carolina Law with the arrival of Martin Brinkley as dean last year,” says Knight. “His understanding and appreciation of North Carolina history, the greater university system, and Carolina Law is quite unique. Given his sense of history and strategic vision, Dean Brinkley has the ability to place Carolina Law squarely in the top tier of national public law schools. There are clearly challenges ahead of us including funding, facilities, and more, but given this backdrop and the potential, I’m sure of success and I’m happy to commit and work with Carolina Law however I can as an alumnus.”

An active alumnus of the law school, Knight says that it has been a privilege to have hosted Carolina Law students as part of a summer associate program at his company. The company is one of the largest direct-to-consumer distributors of media products in the United States and operates iconic book clubs, including Doubleday, Literary Guild and Book of the Month.

“I have found it tremendously gratifying to work with students who are smart, curious and eager to learn, and especially to see them progress and succeed,” he says. “Folks were very generous to me as I was coming along. And, I’m certain that in time, those I’ve sponsored will likewise engage and shepherd those who come along behind them.”

“Having had the pleasure of working closely with a number of Carolina Law students in our summer associate program for over a decade, I’m very excited about the prospect of creating opportunities in the future for others through the Knight Scholarship program,” says Knight. “I’m pleased to work with Carolina Law in a creative way to set up a program that I hope will be significant.”

Knight says that the objective of the scholarship will be to enable students who might be under the radar.

“The key element will be to cast a wider net than might be the norm to identify very special students who have tremendous potential, and who are highly deserving, but might otherwise be overlooked,” he says. “The scholarship will be merit-based and will involve a multitude of criteria including academic excellence, strength of character, service, leadership -- and extra dimensions including creativity, entrepreneurship, and possessing of worthwhile aspirational goals.”

Similarly loyal to his undergraduate alma mater, Knight and his wife last year established a “planned giving” bequest to The Poole College of Management at North Carolina State University to establish the Clifton Brooks Knight Jr. and Raya Keis Knight Scholarship Fund.

“I’m really pleased now to commit here given the clear path of ascendancy of Carolina Law as a prestigious public national law school,” says Knight. “I know this will be a hugely good investment. So, I would encourage all Carolina Law graduates to think seriously about stepping up to support the school. It’s exciting to be involved given Dean Brinkley’s lofty endeavors to move Carolina Law forward and it’s immensely gratifying to see and feel the momentum.”

– Michele Lynn

-February 1, 2017

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