The largest gift ever to the college will provide unrestricted endowment funds in support of its strategic priorities and greatest needs, including student scholarships and fellowships, funding for faculty initiatives, and cutting-edge equipment. In recognition of the gift, the college will be named the Wilson College of Textiles.
"Textiles has been an important part of our university's story, and North Carolina's economy, for more than a century. As the industry has changed, NC State has been able to change along with it — to purposefully adapt, to innovate, and to keep pushing forward," said NC State chancellor Randy Woodson. "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 success in a resurgent textile industry, inspire investment through key partnerships and initiatives, and make a real difference for our state and beyond."
Wilson, who graduated from the university in 1961 with a bachelor's degree in textile chemistry, is a member of its W.C. Riddick Lifetime Giving Society; he also chairs the board of Piedmont Chemical Industries, the firm founded in 1938 by his father and where his two children and a grandson, all graduates of the College of Textiles, work. Wilson's father, who began working part-time in a hosiery mill at a young age, taught himself about textile chemicals at night and at one point attended an educational program at the then-School of Textiles while keeping up a correspondence with one of the instructors.
"When Dad had a question, this man on the faculty there would respond and help him. So there had been this connection with State College that was important when my father was starting out," said Wilson. "When we were talking to the chancellor about the college and about it being the only college of textiles remaining in the U.S., a light bulb really went off. Somebody's got to draw a line in the sand. We've got to remember what got us here and recognize where we can go in the future. I'm happy that we could be the ones to do that."