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2022-2023 Wilson College of Textiles Annual Report

July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023

Executive Summary

By many measures, the 2022-2023 academic year was one of the strongest for the Wilson College in the last two decades, from a cultural, strategic and financial lens. Our graduates are in ever greater demand. We must build a recruitment model that provides a talent pipeline that meets the economic and societal needs of North Carolina and the nation with respect to the U.S. textiles and related industries. 

Particularly noteworthy outcomes for Wilson College include: 

  • A record 100% career success for our graduate students, and 94% for our undergraduates 6 months after graduation.
  • Record research awards (>$10.8M) from our research-active staff and faculty.
  • Record revenues for Zeis Textiles Extension (>$3.4M).
  • Huge growth (84%) in first-generation college attendees and students from rural North Carolina (43%).
  • The highest alumni engagement scores at NC State, including volunteerism.
  • Highest average scholarships of any college at NC State.
  • Increasing average Ph.D. stipends (with a priority goal to continue to raise stipends each year).

Our primary goals for the coming academic year include:

  • Develop and implement a recruitment and marketing strategy that includes digital marketing to bolster undergraduate recruitment and online graduate recruitment.
  • Raise private funds to launch the Wilson College Flex Factory.
  • Raise Ph.D. stipends to a competitive level.
  • Hire at least four professional track faculty to reduce overwhelm and enable research-active faculty to be even more productive in research.
  • Strengthen our well-being culture with implementation of a pilot program for comprehensive online coaching and professional support (separate to our new embedded and centrally administered mental health counseling).
  • Coordinate and implement an impactful celebration of 125 years of textiles at NC State!

The following provides our strategic plan implementation and a summary of our key achievements, challenges and goals for the coming year.

Wilson College Strategic Plan Implementation

Wilson College’s formal implementation of its revised strategic plan is fully in line with the new NC State Strategic Plan. The plan includes our vision: A compassionate world in which textiles enhance sustainability and quality of life for all.

University Goal 1: Empower students for a lifetime of success and impact

Student success has always been our number one goal beyond safety and well-being of all community members. Wilson College has been able to maintain a strong academic and professional support program throughout the pandemic, including: 

  • The Wilson for Life program. Established in 2022, this new program expands on support for all students and all approximately 11,000 alumni to provide a lifetime of support, initially with four key pillars:
    • Lifetime careers services support
    • Discounted lifetime continuing education, via our Zeis Textiles Extension department
    • Mentoring via our Blend Mentorship Program
    • Professional networking support among all alumni
  • Highest-ever average Ph.D. stipends for Wilson College students. 
  • The largest first-year class since 2018.
  • Record career success for students.
    • 100% career success for doctoral and master’s graduates.
    • 94% success for undergraduates (employment and graduate/professional school).
  • 84% increase in first-generation students in the first-year cohort. 
  • 45% increase in students from rural North Carolina (Tier 1 and Tier 2 counties), due in part to our Textile Pioneers Scholarship Program. 
  • 57 students studied abroad with 40 additional this summer (recovering fully from pandemic).
    • A 19% increase on FY19, before the pandemic.
  • Impactful scholarships: Wilson College has established the highest average scholarship per student receiving a scholarship than any college at NC State (Wilson College average: $4,962) and the second highest number of scholarships per student (16.7%; CALS leads at 16.8%). 
  • Began implementation of Wilson College’s first 2+2 undergraduate degree program with Gaston College and Catawba Valley Community College.
  • Investing in the new Wilson College Flex Factory to serve entrepreneurs and industry (for all university students as well as staff, faculty, alumni and key external partners).

Key Student Success Goals for FY24:

  • Continue progress in establishing a living wage stipend for doctoral graduate students.
  • Design and implement an updated recruitment strategy for both undergraduate and graduate students.
  • Design and implement a comprehensive DE strategy to raise revenues, support recruitment and retention of students and serve the global textile community.
  • Formally open the Flex Factory.

Barriers/Challenges for FY24: 

  • Continue to grow revenue to support high growth in doctoral stipends and increase personnel in under-resourced areas.

University Goal 2: Ensure preeminence in research scholarship, innovation and collaboration

The Wilson College had a very strong year in research and innovation this year.

Key outcomes for the Wilson College for this year include: 

  • Record research awards totaling more than $10.4 million to date (does not include NWI awards).
    • Includes approximately $3.5 million from the Textile Protection and Comfort Center that is funding 17 graduate students. 
    • Sonja Salmon led a cross-university team of researchers to win $6.7 million in funding from the Novo Nordisk Foundation to advance carbon dioxide capture from the atmosphere using textiles. Their project is called Biocatalyst Interactions with Gases (BIG) Collaboration.
  • 21% increase in research expenditures: $5,812,294 (up from > $4,7 million from the previous year).
  • Peer-reviewed scholarship impact: 133 peer-reviewed publications.
  • Record revenues for Zeis Textiles Extension: $3.37 million (increase of 63% from the previous year).
  • Established the first proposal development support for research focused on sustainability.
  • Year 2 of the Wilson College Strategic Collaborative Research Innovation Fund (SCRIF).
    • The college is committing $150K / year to support interdisciplinary research. 
    • The first $150K Wilson College Strategic Collaborative Research Innovation Fund (SCRIF) was awarded to: Rong Yin, Kristin Thoney-Barletta, Amanda Mills, Warren Jasper, Yang Liu, and Andre West, Novel Textile-based Wearable Systems for Human-Machine Interaction.
  • The Wilson College of Textiles’ Academic, Career and Student Services unit partnered with Burroughs Wellcome Fund to create and implement TEXplore, a summer enrichment and Saturday Academy Program. This is a collaborative program between Wilson College of Textiles, Gaston College, Catawba Valley Community College, and NC Mathematics and Science Education Network Pre-College Program designed to provide hands-on learning experiences in diverse textile-related STEM disciplines.

Barriers/Challenges/Opportunities for FY24:

  • Teaching loads of research-active faculty are high relative to other colleges.
    • We require a higher number of faculty to reduce overwhelm and allow greater research and scholarship proposal writing and graduate student mentorship.
  • Our Textile Protection and Comfort Center (TPACC) is a self-funded entity that relies on major industry support to fund its research program and operations that supports the health and wellbing of fire fighters, other first responders and the military. Enabling additional state support would enable us to grow TPACC’s 30-year impact on the brave women and men who ensure the safety of our communities and society (2024 will be its 30th anniversary).

Key Research and Scholarship Goals for FY24:

  • Maintain a safe research environment.
  • Continue to win and grow research awards beyond $7M each year and require higher doctoral stipends.
  • Establish the Flex Factory to enable greater research, innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship.
  • Continue implementation of a comprehensive research strategy centered around Wilson College’s three strategic themes (hyper-collaboration, sustainability and quality of life) and the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement

The Wilson College continues to work to reduce its reliance on state funds, in part by raising donor funds. The impact of our NC Textile Foundation team this year was profound and is demonstrating that it is a model foundation for both raising private funds to support the college mission and engaging alumni in meaningful ways.

Key outcomes include:

  • Record fundraising of $9.3 million (includes approximately $5.7M from Novo Nordisk Foundation).
  • The highest alumni engagement scores of all colleges at NC State, including:
    • Seventeen in-person events with 1,215 attendees (>100% increase in attendance from FY22, and 59% increase from the three-year average). 
    • High levels of volunteerism from our 11,000 alumni, including mentoring of students (see below) 
  • Near record pipeline of donors: 1,252 donors (through May 31, 2023) | >11% of all alumni.
    • Increase of >70% from five years ago.
  • Day of Giving: 70 first-time donors (650 total) and >$1.3 million raised.
  • Flex Factory Funding: $3 million in solicitations submitted and $570K in capital support.
  • Blend Mentorship Program: With the Dean’s Young Alumni Leadership Council, implemented a new mentorship program that now has 85 mentees (65 undergraduates and 20 graduate students) and 71 mentors. 

Key Philanthropic Goals for FY24:

  • Become the model college fundraising team
  • Raise >$6 million in gifts and pledges, including for the Flex Factory
  • Endow 16 Textile Pioneers Scholarships
  • Grow endowment beyond $80M.
  • Maintain or increase the donor pool of 1,300 donors.

University Goal 3: Expand and advance our engagement with and service to North Carolina and beyond, defining the standard for a 21st-century land-grant university

Our Zeis Textile Extension (ZTE) department is a unique unit that serves all of our students, our faculty in their research endeavors, and hundreds of small and large industry partners, including entrepreneurs.

Major accomplishments for ZTE in FY23 include:

  • During the pandemic, ZTE built a new business model that is already having spectacular success. The ZTE team has won record revenues as detailed above and has more than $5 million in economic development, research and innovation grants pending, most with community college partners, IES and other units across NC State. 
  • ZTE is leading the development of design and implementation of the Flex Factory.
  • ZTE is leading the development of a textile training program Zero cost (to the academic departments) for education and training of students in formal classes, laboratories and studios.
    • Approximately $320K in personnel support costs (not including materials).
    • ZTE staff also taught multiple classes at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
  • The NC State Hemp Consortium: Continued leadership in collaboration with the College of Agriculture and Life Science, a consortium of agriculture, textile manufacturing companies, retailers and brands focused on the production and use of hemp. 
  • Funded five doctoral and two master’s students.
  • Established new program in collaboration with IES as part of their Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) which will generate federal funds to ZTE in FY22.

Key Goals for ZTE for FY24:

  • Diversify and grow revenues by building on the new FY21 strategy of revenue generation from federal and state agencies.
  • Lead the establishment of a Flex Factory within the ZTE labs.
  • Continue to assist in the establishment of new 2+2 academic programs with community college partners, Gaston College and Catawba Valley Community College.
  • Continue to grow collaboration with CALS and other colleges in innovation on sustainability, especially hemp production and technology.
  • Continue to grow collaboration with COE in the MEP led by IES.
  • Continue to grow collaboration with our academic programs unit (ACSS) in implementing a DE strategy, including development of a badge/certification program.

University Goal 4: Champion a culture of equity, diversity, inclusion, belonging and well-being in all we do.

This past year, the Wilson College has demonstrated living by our recently adopted Culture Charter in meaningful ways that are helping to foster a welcoming college with strong feelings of belonging and a demonstrated commitment to equity regardless of background.

Key culture and organization outcomes and activities include:

  • Established a new embedded counselor, in partnership with the Graduate School and the Provost’s Office. 
  • Trained about 20% of staff and faculty in an equity program, called Equity Sequence.
  • Established a Task Force: Enhancing the Culture of Collaboration and Equity, and addressing the recommendations.
  • Restructured the reporting of the academic department heads to the Associate Dean for Academic Programs – to foster enhanced collaboration and equity.
  • Established selected No Meeting Days to enable colleagues to focus on projects.
  • Established a new comprehensive coaching/mentoring online program called TaskHuman, available for free for all undergraduate and graduate students, and all permanent staff and faculty.

Special Honors and Awards that Enhance our Culture.

Selected honors and awards:

  • Ritika Shamdasani, a Fashion and Textile Management 2023 graduate, was named in Forbes 2023 “30 Under 30” list.
  • Sonja Salmon received the Chancellor’s Innovation Fund for her work in sustainable textiles to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.
  • Nelson Vinueza (a Chancellor’s Faculty Cluster Hire) was awarded the Chancellor’s University Faculty Scholar and was a recipient of the Dyer’s Company Research Medal in the United Kingdom.
  • Bryan Ormond was awarded a Goodnight Early Career Innovator Award and was awarded the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists Faculty Advisor Award.

These activities, in addition to those discussed in previous reports, are helping to strengthen our culture to enable us to have an even stronger impact on the university mission and strategic plan. 

Key FY24 Culture Charter goals: 

  • Enhance leadership and resource transparency and accountability.
  • Implement and obtain feedback on the online coaching program, Task Human. 
  • Provide increased resources to enhance professional development, well-being, collegiality and pride, and ramp up Professional Development Roadmaps for all colleagues.

Barriers/Challenges for FY24: Competitive compensation for staff and faculty and feelings of overwhelm are two of the most significant challenges.

University Goal 5: Improve university effectiveness through transformative technologies, cutting-edge processes and actionable data

The Wilson College has incorporated a number of innovative approaches to improve its effectiveness, including: 

  • Co-led the development of Smartsheet for use in HR and financial analysis, to enable more efficient data-driven decision making.
  • Established a college-level proposal development support program for research proposals focused on sustainability.
  • Invested in a new online, real-time coaching program, called Task Human.

University Goal 6: Lead in developing innovative partnerships, entrepreneurial thinking and applied problem-solving

Economic Development in Central America and North Carolina: The Wilson College has strengthened its relationships with key textile industry stakeholders in the state of North Carolina and in Honduras and El Salvador, together with its community college partners by leading the development of new, innovative textile training and education programs. We have established a new university partner called UNITEC in Honduras, and anticipate adding more partners in the near future. This work has been supported by the U.S. Department of State and the federal agency, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) with a $2 million initial grant. The initial focus is on building training in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala to support the massive U.S. investment in that region of the western hemisphere.  

Development of a New Entrepreneurship Space, called the Wilson College Flex Factory: With philanthropic, university and college support, the Wilson College is building a university-wide entrepreneurship space, called the Wilson College Flex Factory that will be open to all university community members and entrepreneurs interested in product and business development using textiles. 

Establishment of the Fashion and Textile Business Excellence Cooperative (FTBEC): Distinguished professor Ellie Jin is leading the implementation of the FTBEC, which is intended to fill the gap in research and training on the business and management needs of the apparel and textiles industry.

Expanded Partnership with Under Armour: With the Office of Research and Innovation, the Nonwovens Institute and other colleges, established a new major partnership with Under Armour, including on-campus presence with this top U.S.-based brand. This expanded partnership complements and does not compete with multiple other partnerships with brands and retailers.

University Goal 7: Elevate the national and global reputation and visibility of NC State

The Wilson College has established multiple new avenues that are enhancing the national and global reputation of the college and the university, including: 

  • Hosted the Ambassador for U.S. Trade, Katherine Tai at the Wilson College and university for discussion of the strategy to create high paying jobs and investment in textiles in both the United States and Central America.
  • Hosted the Under Secretary of State, Jose Fernandez, with our community college partners, Gaston College and Catawba Valley Community College, to discuss textile training and investment needs in Central America.
  • Published more than 130 peer-reviewed papers and juried exhibits.
  • For the third year, hosted an annual Evolving Textiles conference focused on sustainability in the textiles industry, and hosted or led multiple other conferences, workshops and symposia.

From a communications perspective, the Wilson College intentionally elevates the brand of NC State and the college in numerous ways with greater than 135,000 website visitors. Website content aligns with the Wilson College strategic plan, represents the diversity of disciplines present in our college, shares the college’s story and accomplishments, and helps drive social media content. The total news articles published for 2022-2023 is greater than 140 with more than 85 external media stories. 


This annual report demonstrates the relevance of the Wilson College of Textiles to the state of North Carolina, the nation and the U.S. textiles industry and, we hope, supports the Wilson College’s reputation among other universities and industry leaders as the globally pre-eminent institution of textiles education, research and innovation. 

In 1899, our university hired the first faculty member to teach textiles. The initiative started a unique textiles journey for our university that has led to the transformation of the lives of tens of thousands of North Carolinians and for people throughout the world. We look forward to another academic year ahead, one in which we will celebrate 125 years of textiles at North Carolina State University!