RALEIGH — N.C. State will rename its textiles college for a High Point business owner and his family.
The university announced Friday that the school will be named the Wilson College of Textiles after a $28 million gift — the largest ever to the college — from Frederick “Fred” Eugene Wilson Jr.
In a statement, N.C. State Chancellor Randy Woodson called it “a truly transformational gift for the College of Textiles,” the only remaining textile school in the nation.
Fred Wilson Jr. graduated from N.C. State in 1961 with a degree in textile chemistry and went to work for Piedmont Chemical Industries, the High Point company founded by his father in 1938.
The younger Wilson helped grow the business to five production sites in North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee and expand into specialty product lines.
Wilson is now chairman of the board of the family-owned business, which makes chemicals used to process yarn, fibers and fabrics in a variety of industries. His two children — Rick Wilson and Cres Wilson Calabrese — and a grandson, Rede Wilson of High Point, all got bachelor’s degrees from N.C. State’s textile college.
Woodson announced the Wilsons’ gift during his annual fall address and N.C. State’s annual Red and White Week homecoming celebration.
The money will go into the college’s endowment and fund student scholarships and fellowships, faculty and equipment. The gift will be counted toward N.C. State’s current capital campaign, which seeks to raise $1.6 billion by the end of 2021.
In an interview with the News & Observer of Raleigh, Wilson said he wants to help N.C. State prepare students for high-tech work in a changing and improving U.S. textile industry.
“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 told the Raleigh newspaper. “It’s economic, as well as a long-term position.”
The Wilson College of Textiles is just the second named college at N.C. State. The university renamed its business school the Poole College of Management in 2010 after getting a $37 million gift from Lonnie and Carol Poole. Lonnie Poole, a 1969 N.C. State graduate, founded the trash and recycling collection company Waste Industries.
It’s also the second college with Wilson’s name on it. After a donation, High Point University named its pharmacy school for Wilson in 2015. The Fred Wilson School of Pharmacy enrolled its first class a year later.