$28 mil­lion gift aims to make NC State a leader in the resur­gent tex­tile in­dus­try

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - Local - BY JANE STAN­CILL js­tan­cill@new­sob­server.com Jane Stan­cill: 919- 829- 4559; @janes­tancill

N.C. State Uni­ver­sity will re­name its tex­tile col­lege fol­low­ing a $28 mil­lion do­na­tion, the largest in the pro­gram’s 119year his­tory.

On Fri­day, Chan­cel­lor Randy Wood­son an­nounced that the col­lege will now be called the Wil­son Col­lege of Tex­tiles, in honor of the fam­ily of alum­nus Fred­er­ick Eu­gene Wil­son Jr., a busi­ness owner from High Point.

The gift from the Wil­sons will be in­vested in an en­dow­ment to pro­vide on­go­ing sup­port for fac­ulty, re­search and fa­cil­i­ties for the only tex­tile col­lege re­main­ing in the United States, ac­cord­ing to the uni­ver­sity.

Fred Wil­son is is chair­man of the board of his fam­ily-owned busi­ness, Pied­mont Chem­i­cal In­dus­tries Inc., based in High Point. The com­pany his­tor­i­cally made tex­tile chem­i­cals that used on yarn and fab­ric. The busi­ness was started in 1938 by Wil­son’s father when the tex­tile busi­ness was thriv­ing in North Carolina.

Wil­son said it is time to in­vest in tex­tiles, which are emerg­ing again in the United States af­ter a long pe­riod of de­cline, in­clud­ing mill clo­sures and an ex­o­dus for cheaper la­bor in Asian coun­tries.

It will be im­por­tant to pre­pare stu­dents for jobs in high-tech tex­tile work, he said.

“We feel it’s right be­cause sev­eral of N.C. State’s com­peti­tors — Ge­or­gia Tech, Clem­son, Auburn — they have more or less fallen back in the tex­tile busi­ness. They have not re­ally pushed that, and we think it’s time to take a strong stance,” Wil­son said in an in­ter­view. “It’s eco­nomic, as well as a long-term po­si­tion.”

When the U.S. in­dus­try was ham­mered by glob­al­iza­tion, Wil­son said his busi­ness adapted with prod­ucts such as car­pet, cos­metic, per­sonal care and other prod­ucts. “We were try­ing to scope wher­ever our equip­ment and our mar­ket­ing could take us and make sense,” he said.

Now, Wil­son be­lieves, the tex­tile in­dus­try “will be get­ting stronger rather than weaker.”

Wood­son, in a news re­lease from the uni­ver­sity, said the Wil­son do­na­tion will en­sure that N.C. State’s tex­tile col­lege will be a leader and in­no­va­tor for years to come. In re­cent years the col­lege has turned its re­search to new direc­tions such as fiber chem­istry and dig­i­tal print­ing.

“Tex­tiles has been an im­por­tant part of our uni­ver­sity’s story, and North Carolina’s econ­omy, for more than a cen­tury,” Wood­son said in a pre­pared state­ment. “As the in­dus­try has changed, N.C. State has been able to change along with it — to pur­pose­fully adapt, to in­no­vate and to keep push­ing for­ward. Our fac­ulty has built ex­per­tise in a wide range of tex­tile ap­pli­ca­tions and spe­cial­ties. The Wil­son fam­ily’s gift will em­power us to pre­pare stu­dents for suc- cess in a resur­gent tex­tile in­dus­try, in­spire in­vest­ment through key part­ner­ships and ini­tia­tives, and make a real dif­fer­ence for our state and be­yond.”

The fam­ily has gen­er­a­tional ties to N.C. State and the tex­tile col­lege.

Wil­son’s son, Fred­er­ick “Rick” Eu­gene Wil­son III, is a 1987 grad­u­ate and his daugh­ter, El­iz­a­beth “Cres” Wil­son Cal­abrese, is a 1989 grad­u­ate. His grand­son, Fred­er­ick “Rede” Wil­son IV, earned a de­gree in poly­mer and color chem­istry two years ago.

The Wil­son Col­lege of Tex­tiles is only the sec­ond at NCSU to be re­named fol­low­ing a large en­dow­ment gift. The first was the Poole Col­lege of Man­age­ment, af­ter Lon­nie and Carol Poole gave the col­lege $37 mil­lion in 2010. Lon­nie Poole, a 1959 en­gi­neer­ing grad­u­ate, founded Waste In­dus­tries USA.

THE WIL­SON FAM­ILY’S GIFT WILL EM­POWER US TO PRE­PARE STU­DENTS FOR SUC­CESS IN A RESUR­GENT TEX­TILE IN­DUS­TRY, IN­SPIRE IN­VEST­MENT THROUGH KEY PART­NER­SHIPS AND INI­TIA­TIVES, AND MAKE A REAL DIF­FER­ENCE FOR OUR STATE AND BE­YOND.

Chan­cel­lor Randy Wood­son said in a pre­pared state­ment

AMANDA PADBURY

Fac­ulty at N.C. State’s Col­lege of Tex­tiles look at fab­ric printed through dig­i­tal tex­tile print­ing ca­pa­bil­ity.

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