College announces first-of-its-kind gift, breaks ground on Fitts-Woolard Hall

From left: Mrs. Deb Fitts, Mr. Ed Fitts, Mrs. Peggy Woolard and Mr. Ed Woolard.

From left: Mrs. Deb Fitts, Mr. Ed Fitts, Mrs. Peggy Woolard and Mr. Ed Woolard.

Two North Carolina State University industrial engineering alumni are supporting the College of Engineering’s newest building with the largest gift given for a campus building naming in NC State’s history.

On April 20, 2018, the University broke ground on Fitts-Woolard Hall, which comes as the result of a $25 million gift from alumni Edward P. Fitts, Jr. and Edgar S. Woolard, Jr. The $154-million project is also funded in part by the passage of the May 2016 Connect NC bond referendum and other private donations to the College of Engineering.

Fitts-Woolard Hall will become NC State’s fourth engineering building on Centennial Campus, continuing the unification of the College and leveraging the power of convergence across disciplines, forming one of the world’s most dynamic research and education environments. Fitts-Woolard Hall will house state-of-the-art classrooms and cutting-edge laboratories that will further research in bio-manufacturing, advanced manufacturing, rapid prototyping, health systems engineering, environmental engineering, construction engineering and management, transportation systems and other fields of engineering research. The Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering; the Edward P. Fitts Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering; and the dean’s administration will all be housed within the building.

Dignitaries pose with shovels at the Fitts-Woolard Hall groundbreaking on April 20, 2018.

“This is a very exciting and important gift for NC State,” said Chancellor Randy Woodson. “Fitts-Woolard Hall will be a state-of-the-art facility that truly supports our vision of collaborative, interdisciplinary instruction, research and innovation. The fact that this vision is becoming a reality through a public-private partnership very appropriately reflects the solutions-driven teamwork taking place on Centennial Campus every day.

“Having two families that already have made such a significant impact on our students and faculty continue to set such an example of leadership is phenomenal. This project is vital to the future of the College of Engineering. We are grateful to the Fittses and Woolards for their extraordinary commitment to its success.”

Support of their alma mater through their leadership and generosity is nothing new to these two North Carolina natives. As they achieved significant career success since earning their degrees, they have also made support of NC State a priority.

An eye toward growth

Fitts, a native of Littleton, NC, earned his bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from NC State in 1961. He is the former president and CEO of Dopaco Inc., a packaging company he founded in 1979. He serves as the current chair of the Industrial and Systems Engineering Advisory Board, and he also served on the Board of Directors for the NC State Engineering Foundation from 2003-2011. He is the recipient of the Watauga Medal (2006), Industrial and Systems Engineering Distinguished Alumni Award (2006) and Distinguished Engineering Alumni Award (2001).

Fitts and his wife, Deb, have strongly supported NC State philanthropically with gifts that include, but are not limited to, the Edward P. Fitts Scholarship (1999), the Edward P. Fitts Industrial Engineering Professorship (2002), A. Doug Allison Endowed Professorship (2006), and the Dopaco, Inc. Endowed Professorship (2006), In 2005, they made a gift of $10 million that established the Edward P. Fitts Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE), the first endowed academic department in the history of the University of North Carolina System.

With an eye toward strengthening the ISE Department’s national reputation, the Fittses’ support began first with the establishment of a world-class academic program through creation of chaired positions for the faculty, fellowships for graduate students and scholarships to entice new students. As the department has grown, the need for a new facility to replace the current Daniels Hall was always in mind.

“Our goal remains to be one of the top five industrial and systems engineering programs in the world,” Ed Fitts said. “To complete this goal, we need a world-class facility for our students and our faculty to continue to produce world-class students for the state of North Carolina and the nation.”

Decades of leadership

A native of Washington, NC, Woolard earned his bachelor’s degree in industrial systems engineering from NC State in 1956. Following a career of management and leadership positions with DuPont, he served as the company’s chairman and CEO from 1989 to 1995. Following retirement from that position, Woolard served as chairman of the board of Apple Inc., led the company out of financial decline and convinced the board to bring back Steve Jobs.

His service at the university includes the Achieve Campaign Steering Committee, the Board of Trustees and the College of Textiles Foundation Board. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the American Philosophical Society. Woolard is the recipient of NC State’s Industrial and Systems Engineering Distinguished Alumni Award (2006), Watauga Medal (2001), Meritorious Service Alumnus Award (1998), College Alumnus of the Year Award (1988) and Distinguished Engineering Alumni Award (1988).

Woolard and his wife, Peggy, have supported NC State through gifts to the CAL-Edgar S. Woolard Jr. Endowment (1992), Edgar S. Woolard Dean’s Discretionary Fund Endowment (2006), Terry G. Wood Scholarship for the Poole College of Management Endowment (2007) and Edgar S. Woolard, Jr. Scholarship Endowment (2008).

Woolard has played an active role in every fundraising campaign the University has undertaken over the last three decades and has provided invaluable leadership to the College as it has grown in size and rankings and has embarked on a vital transformation with the move to Centennial Campus.

“It’s been exciting to observe the growth and outstanding progress of NC State over the past 30 years, especially Centennial Campus,” Woolard said. “The dedication of this fabulous new engineering building represents this growth and progress.”


Return to contents or download the Spring/Summer 2018 NC State Engineering magazine (PDF, 3MB) along with the insert about Fitts-Woolard Hall (PDF, 479KB).

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