Alumnus honors business professor, friend with major gift

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$50,000 donation benefits business internships

KINGSTON, R.I. – April 9, 2007 –University of Rhode Island alumnus David J. Buckanavage lists his four older brothers among the most influential people in his life.

But the former Rhody football player also puts Clay V. Sink, URI professor of business administration, in that group.

To honor his former professor and help business students, Buckanavage and his wife, Deborah, have made a $50,000 donation to the Clay V. Sink College of Business Administration Internship Endowment. It will help defray expenses URI business students face when completing internships, regionally, nationally or internationally.

The 1980 graduate took courses with Sink and was Sink’s paid student assistant for four years. “He was my teacher, my employer, my mentor and through 31 years, he has been my friend,” Buckanavage said.

Sink, who will retire at the end of the academic year after 38 years of teaching at URI, will be honored by faculty members, alumni and staff on Thursday, June 14 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, 801 Greenwich Ave., in Warwick. Buckavanage has been asked to make remarks during the event, and he urges alumni who benefited from Sink’s teaching to attend the festivities.

“His primary focus has been the students, and he always had time for them,” Buckavanage said. “While research is important, Clay is a man who loves teaching. I believe passionate teaching breeds passionate learning and that’s what I saw in his classroom.”

Buckanavage is founder, president, and chief executive officer of Sovereign Pacific Equity, Inc., an investment advisory firm in Aliso Viejo, Calif. dedicated to the preservation and adaptive re-use of historic properties throughout the country.

“Clay was so much a part of my success, and so it’s important that I play a role in helping to continue his legacy. Clay believed in my abilities before I was capable of believing in myself, and I am indebted to him for that. I have received so many gifts from him, including the gift of friendship.

“Even in his leaving, his attention and commitment are to the students,” Buckanavage said. “That says it all.”

Sink was touched by Buckavanage’s gift to the endowment. “David is a very successful and generous person,” Sink said. “He loves the University, and he believes in giving back. He clearly is someone who demonstrates appreciation.”

Sink stays with Buckanavage and his wife, Deborah, and their two children when he visits California.

The professor, who has never missed a day of school because of illness, either as a student or teacher, said internships are critically important for student development. “The students need the reality check with a firm so they can test what they are learning in the classroom against what they are doing in their internships,” said the Kingston resident who grew up in Winston-Salem, N.C.

About his retirement, the former associate dean of the business college and former chair of the Management Department said he is a bit apprehensive about retiring.

“To tell you the truth, this has been a great job,” said Sink, a URI honorary alumnus and holder of the Rhode Island Business Educator of the Year award. “We’re in paradise here, which doesn’t mean that things don’t go wrong. But the University has been a great part of my life; I love this place.”

The 9,000 or so students he has taught since his arrival in Kingston wouldn’t be surprised to know that they were at the core of his mission here. “I always did what I could to help students. When I gave a student a chance, I was rarely disappointed. If you teach well, then students learn well. If something is not going well in your class, you have to look at yourself first.”

He was in his 30s when he started at URI. “The old-timers took me under their wings to guide me. I try to help the younger faculty now, but I don’t know if I am as much help,” said the characteristically modest professor.

Sink left a job at Morehead State University in Kentucky to come to Kingston because a friend on the URI faculty suggested he make the move. “The minute I came here, I was sold. I never had any thoughts of leaving and because of URI I have had some wonderful opportunities to go around the world.”

He has taught in France, India, Russia and China on the international dimensions of business, and has brought those experiences back to his classes at URI.

“I liked teaching and advising, but research is also essential,” he said. “All three are important, but research keeps you current in your field,” Sink said.

Tickets for the evening are $50 per person and for information call 401-874-4348 or email Those interested in making a donation to the internship endowment should call Michaela Mooney, major gifts officer at 401-874-4716, or email her at

URI’s “Making a Difference” campaign seeks $100 million to recruit and retain outstanding faculty, enhance the student-centered campus experience, provide undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowships, and fund cutting-edge academic and research initiatives. The campaign will be launched in fall 2007. For more information on the campaign, link to

Pictured above
David J. Buckanavage
Clay V. Sink
URI News Bureau photos by Nora Lewis