Gift from Elon parents to name new facility for Love School of Business expansion

The new Richard W. Sankey Hall, to be located just south of Colonnades Dining Hall, will provide classrooms and learning facilities for students in all academic majors. 

Artist rendering of Richard W. Sankey Hall, being planned for the Elon University campus.
Elon parents Jim and Beth Sankey of Charlotte, N.C., have made a generous naming gift in support of the expansion of the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business. The new 30,000-square-foot building, currently under design, will be named in honor of Jim Sankey’s father, the late Richard W. Sankey. 

“This naming gift from the Sankey family is a remarkable example of philanthropy in action at Elon,” says President Leo M. Lambert. “As parents of two Elon graduates and an incoming first-year Elon student, the Sankeys have seen firsthand the impact and value of an Elon education. Our community is truly grateful to the Sankeys for their leadership and generosity in support of this important strategic initiative.” 

A former Elon trustee, Jim Sankey is chief executive officer and president of InVue, based in Charlotte. His late father was a business leader and entrepreneur in Jim’s hometown of Canton, Ohio. It was there that in 1972, Richard Sankey launched a successful plastics design company called Alpha Enterprises. That company was the predecessor to InVue, a thriving global company that produces innovative security devices to protect smart phones, tablets and other high-end retail products. 

“I really wanted to name this building in honor of my dad,” Jim Sankey says. “I give a lot of credit for my success to my dad. He was a hard-working, self-made man and a man of his word, which I admired a great deal.”

An Engaged Elon Family
In making their gift, Jim and Beth Sankey say they are proud to have their family’s name associated with a top-50 undergraduate business school and a university with a growing national reputation. 

“Elon is always trying to improve the student experience and is a university that is committed to excellence,” Jim says. “We feel very blessed to have had success in our lives, and are honored to share that with today’s students.” 

The Sankeys are also proud to have two Elon graduates in their family, and a third student who will enroll next fall. Their eldest son, Clay, graduated from Elon in 2012 and is working in Charlotte as a chiropractor. Son Wes graduated in 2013 and works in information technology for CPI Security in Charlotte. The Sankey’s youngest child, Brooke, plans to begin her studies as a member of Elon’s Class of 2020. 

The Sankeys have been active supporters of Elon since 2008, making major commitments to support construction of Alumni Field House, the Numen Lumen Pavilion and other university priorities.  

Richard W. Sankey Hall will be located on the north end of the current McMichael Science Center parking lot.
Richard W. Sankey Hall

Richard W. Sankey Hall will accommodate the significant growth of the Love School of Business, which has seen its number of majors increase 80 percent in the past decade. About 1,700 Elon students, or about 30 percent of the university’s total enrollment, study in one of the school’s undergraduate majors or graduate programs. 

The Sankey commitment is the first major gift made toward the project’s $8 million goal. Fundraising for the project is continuing, and a construction timetable will be set once the funding is complete. The three-story building, currently being designed by the renowned Robert A.M. Stern Architects of New York, will be located on the north end of the McMichael Science Center parking lot, adjacent to Colonnades Dining Hall.

“Sankey Hall is an essential part of the continued growth and success of the Love School of Business,” says Raghu Tadepalli, dean of the school. “Multipurpose classrooms, student-faculty engagement spaces, and academic centers that serve the entire university will be located in this new facility, deepening the learning of generations of Elon students by further integrating the Love School with the entire university.”

In addition to technology-infused classrooms and collaborative work spaces, Sankey Hall will house two new academic centers focusing on financial education and design thinking, inspiring students from across Elon’s campus to come together to create solutions to complex challenges.

The Doherty Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership and Chandler Family Professional Sales Center will move from Ernest A. Koury Sr. Business Center to Sankey Hall, enabling Elon to serve additional students across all academic majors. This move will, in turn, free up much-needed space in Koury Business Center to expand the Porter Family Professional Development Center and Reed Finance Center.

Sankey Hall is one of two new academic facilities being planned as the university continues progress on its Elon Commitment strategic plan. Program planning is also under way for a new building for the physical sciences.

“A man of his generation”

Raised during the Depression, Richard Sankey learned early in life the importance of hard work, fairness and integrity – principles he passed on to his three children. After serving for two years in the U.S. Marines, Sankey graduated from Bowling Green State University in 1952 with assistance from the GI Bill and built a successful career in sales in Canton, Ohio. He was proud to be the first person in his family to graduate from college.

“My dad was a man of his generation,” Jim Sankey says. “He had high principles and was fair to people, but he wasn’t easy. He expected a lot out of himself and those around him. He was a no-nonsense kind of guy who didn’t have a hard time making tough decisions.”

After working initially in the wire fabrication business, Richard Sankey launched Alpha Enterprises and over time grew the plastics design company into a successful business venture. Yet there were sacrifices he and his wife, Dorothy, made.

“Growing up, I didn’t know we were poor because we had food on the table and a home,” Sankey says. “My dad didn’t take a salary for the first three years as he worked to build the business. My mom blocked off half of the house with blankets to save money on heat. They instilled in us a great work ethic. If you wanted a new pair of jeans, you had to work for it.”

In 1984, Jim Sankey was working in sales and living in Los Angeles when his father developed health problems. He returned to Ohio to help his father run the business. Richard Sankey retired in 1989 and Jim took over leadership of the company, adding lucrative manufacturing, marketing and sales divisions to grow the business. 

“I was young and didn’t know what I was getting into,” Sankey recalls. “It was baptism by fire and there were many times I didn’t know whether I was going to go bankrupt. My dad created a great foundation for me to be able to take the business in different directions.”

Over  the next couple decades, Sankey built up four separate business divisions within Alpha: packaging products, consumer products, home office products and security products. He then sold off the divisions, the last of which was in 2007, and launched InVue. The company now dominates the market by securing smart phones, tablets and other high-end consumer products while allowing them to remain “in view” for consumers. InVue currently does business in 70 countries around the world.

Sankey hopes his family’s gift in support of the Love School expansion inspires students to make the most of their education and to gain practical experience through internships, guest lectures and by working with companies on business projects. He also offers advice to students beginning their careers.

“Be more selective about your first job and even your second job,” Sankey says. “Students should be asking themselves what a company can teach them, what skills they can learn and are those things in line with their interests.”

Richard Sankey died in 2013. Though he didn’t live to see his name on the new facility, Jim says his father would be pleased.

“I think my dad would be proud to have his name on a facility at Elon.” 

– By Jaleh Hagigh