Reflections and Reactions: Wilson College of Textiles Makes History
Ask students, faculty and staff of the newly-named Wilson College of Textiles what the Wilson family’s commitment means to them, and a common thread emerges: This is a tight-knit community – a family – made even stronger by this landmark gift.
Describing Friday, Nov. 2, as a “historic day for NC State,” Chancellor Randy Woodson announced that the university received a $28 million gift from alumnus Frederick “Fred” Eugene Wilson Jr. and the Wilson family, which includes three generations of graduates from the college.
It is the largest gift ever made to the college in its 119-year history and makes the Wilson College of Textiles only the second named college at NC State.
As the celebration starts to wind down and planning begins in earnest, the atmosphere in the Wilson College of Textiles can best be described as electric.
“I think it’s just a fantastic opportunity for us to invest in our students, to invest in our faculty, to invest in our staff, and do so much more than we could do before,” says Associate Professor Kristin Thoney-Barletta.
Read on for more reactions from some of the college’s students, faculty and staff.
Junior, textile engineering
“Watching the gift announcement and getting to be a part of it was really cool, especially seeing the alumni come back and the way that the Wilson family interacted with current and past students. I think it was perfectly summed up by Dean Hinks’ face the whole time. He was just giddy.”
Junior, fashion and textile management
“This gift means opportunity, in my opinion. I’m very involved in the college and have been able to take advantage of all sorts of opportunities, like undergraduate research and the sustainability committee. Being a part of these things has been so important. I think this gift opens up these opportunities for more students and creates awesome growth. The event was so joyful. Getting to see the community come together to celebrate was really neat.”
Senior, textile engineering
“It’s really exciting that the family realizes what our students can offer and that they’re willing to invest in us. This amazing gift is definitely going to help not only the college, but also the textile industry.”
Department of Textile Engineering, Chemistry and Science
“I’ve been here for 15 years as an undergrad, a grad student and a post-doc, and I’ve seen just about everything the college is and has to offer over that time. To me, this gift is about keeping the college going. Making it not just a college of textiles, but the college of textiles. It means so much to this state and what we do specifically, like the work that I do to protect firefighters, first responders and the military. To me, this is home. It really is a family. This gift keeps us strong, keeps us the tight-knit community that we are.”
Assistant director of annual giving and prospect development
North Carolina Textile Foundation
“I got to spend all of Friday with the Wilson family, and I was able to see how they are such a close-knit family, and I believe they consider the college to be part of their family. As a newer staff member, it was an amazing experience for me to see everything come together and everyone having a great time. And that’s just the beginning of the impact of this gift. My favorite part of the day was Cres Wilson Calabrese’s speech. She said something along the lines of, ‘I hope this gift will be a spark to an eternal flame of support for the Wilson College of Textiles,’ and that really resonated with me.”
Associate professor and director of undergraduate programs
Department of Textile and Apparel, Technology and Management
“I am very grateful to the Wilson family. It was very nice to hear from Mr. Wilson and some members of his family about their relationship with the college and what led them to give such a wonderful gift. I believe this gift will create more potential for undergraduate student scholarships as well as investment in graduate student research and teaching assistantships. It will help us to enhance some of the programs that we already have in place and to give faculty and staff additional opportunities for professional development. I think those are going to be realistic outcomes of this gift and will improve the college tremendously.”
Senior director of development
North Carolina Textile Foundation
“For me this gift means the survivability of the Wilson College of Textiles. As a native of North Carolina, it means to me a resurgent textile industry, having access to textile education, being able to create workforce development, being able to infuse the college with the resources that will enable the innovation and automation that are going to be needed as textiles evolves. The reality of a gift of this magnitude and impact is incredible. Seeing the students swarming Fred [Wilson], wanting autographs on the new hats, and just seeing their appreciation and understanding of the impact of the philanthropy, that’s what it’s all about.”