Alumni donors know that Fitts-Woolard Hall is more than a building
Fitts-Woolard Hall, the College’s newest building on NC State’s Centennial Campus, will open this summer and with a goal of being ready for the arrival of students back to campus for the fall 2020 semester.
The new home of the Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering; the Edward P. Fitts Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering; and the dean’s administrative offices represents a pivotal moment in the history of the College.
Taking another big step toward finishing the move to Centennial will continue NC State Engineering’s climb to a leading spot among public colleges of engineering in the United States.
More than 300 alumni donors have supported the College in its effort to raise $60 million in private donations to help fund construction. Meet two couples who have made support of the project a priority and learn why they decided to give.
Scott and Beth Stabler
As a high school senior in Delaware, Scott Stabler visited the University of Delaware, Virginia Tech and NC State before deciding to come to school in Raleigh.
“It just felt right,” Stabler remembers.
Next came a major. Stabler, whose parents both worked for DuPont, first looked at chemical engineering. But he soon found that mechanical engineering was a better fit.
NC State was a good fit, too. He joined a fraternity, Sigma Chi, and made lifelong friends. Several students in the house were also engineering students, and it was an important connection for a student from out of state.
Stabler met his wife, Beth, a native of Williamsburg, Va., who was studying nearby at Meredith College. The couple still loves to return to Raleigh for football games and alumni events at NC State and Meredith.
He started his career at the Naval Weapons Station in Yorktown, Va. Then a roommate who worked at Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) invited Stabler to come take a look. It was the start of a 35-year-career at NNS and its parent company, Huntington Ingalls Industries.
Stabler, who is now the executive vice president and chief transformation officer for Huntington Ingalls, has worked in engineering, purchasing, business development and program management over his career. He went on to earn a master’s degree in business administration from the College of William and Mary.
From 2001 to 2009, he was directly responsible for program management and construction of the last Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, USS George H.W. Bush, and points to the time as a career highlight.
“That was absolutely my marquee work experience inside the shipyard,” he said.
Stabler shares that his NC State engineering degree set him up well for his career.
“It gives you a calling card,” he said. “It gives you a door opener to a lot of things. You’ve got to prove it once you get into the door, but it does open a lot of doors.”
He has stayed involved with the University as a member of the Wolfpack Club and has served on the advisory board for the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE) and the NC State Engineering Foundation board of directors. In 2013, he was selected for the inaugural class of MAE’s hall of fame.
So, when the Stablers heard the College’s call for help supporting the construction of Fitts-Woolard Hall, they knew that the investment as Dean’s Oval Club members would be worth it. “We’re grateful for the foresight of those who made these investments and we’re glad to help make a difference for the generations that are coming after us,” Beth Stabler said.
Gerald and Nancy White
When he heard Dean Louis Martin-Vega speak in Charlotte about the College’s plans to raise $60 million to help fund construction of Fitts-Woolard Hall (FWH), Gerald White was already a generous donor to the College.
White and his wife, Nancy, established the Gerald M. and Nancy A. White Scholarship. In partnership with his nephew David White, the couple had also established the Dr. William Austin Fellowship to honor a former department head in what was then NC State’s Department of Mineral Industries.
“(Martin-Vega) stepped forward and put his view on it that the alumni and friends of the University ought to take the lead in funding for the project,” said White, who earned his bachelor’s degree in metallurgical engineering in 1960.
“I thought that I had to contribute.”
After graduating with his bachelor’s degree, Gerald White worked at Douglas Aircraft in Charlotte in the metallurgical lab. He then went on to work at Industrial Piping Inc. as a fabrication engineer. In 1984, his friend John Ward offered him a partnership in Ward Tank & Heat Exchanger Company — a company that designs and fabricates custom shell and tube heat exchangers and pressure vessels. Gerald White retired in 2007 but remained a partner in the company and a member of its board of directors for several years.
Both Gerald and David White, who earned a bachelor’s degree in materials engineering in 1973 and a master’s degree in 1980, attribute their successful careers to NC State and to Austin’s support and encouragement. The Austin Fellowship supports graduate students in today’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) and the White Scholarship goes to MSE undergraduates.
“He was the epitome of a Southern gentleman and a great teacher,” Gerald White said of Austin.
The Whites became reconnected with the University about eight years ago and began thinking about supporting Gerald White’s home department.
When the College began talking to alumni about Fitts-Woolard Hall, Gerald White was particularly impressed with Martin-Vega’s contribution to the project. Martin-Vega and his wife, Maggie, made a lead gift to establish the Dean’s Oval Club for FWH donors of $50,000 to $99,999.
“If he can do it, maybe the rest of us ought to really get behind him,” White remembers thinking.
Gerald White hopes that many more alumni of the College will follow their lead.
“There’s still a big need and an opportunity for everyone else to contribute. This, to me, is kind of an historic event.”