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Honors and Awards

Mac McMichael, Jr. ’70 Named the Esteemed Recipient of the 2023 Distinguished Alumni Award

In recognition of his expertise as a global textile leader and lifelong commitment to supporting his alma mater, Mac McMichael, Jr. was honored with NC State’s prestigious Distinguished Alumni Award.

Mac McMichael stands next to Dean David Hinks
During the Evening of Stars Gala on Oct. 26, Mac McMichael '70 (right) was presented with the Distinguished Alumni Award by Dean David Hinks. (Credit: Renee Spring Photography)

Following in his father’s footsteps, Dalton “Mac” McMichael, Jr.’s journey weaves a vivid story of dedication, innovation and unwavering support for causes close to his heart.

As the founder and CEO of McMichael Mills, Inc., he has forged a career as an international leader in yarn manufacturing who has touched the lives of countless individuals — from those who call the heartland of North Carolina home to those living in the far corners of the world. 

Despite his extremely busy schedule, McMichael’s passion for helping students succeed has never wavered. 

He has been a longtime contributor not only to his alma mater, the Wilson College of Textiles at NC State University, over the years but also to the NC State Alumni Association, Wolfpack Athletics and other university-wide priorities. 

“My time at NC State made me who I am today. I will always do what I can to ensure our Wolfpack students have access to a world-class textile education from this great institution.”

— Mac McMichael, Jr. ’70

To honor his exemplary impact as a Wolfpack graduate, McMichael was named the esteemed recipient of NC State’s 2023 Distinguished Alumni Award. This distinction recognizes how he has left an indelible mark on the history of the Wilson College of Textiles, the university, the state, the nation and the world. 

Photograph of Mac McMichael, who is a 1970 Wilson College of Textiles graduate
Mac McMichael ’70 (Credit: Renee Spring Photography)

“I am so appreciative of this honor,” says McMichael, who lives in Stoneville, North Carolina, with his wife Susan. “If I’ve made even half of the positive impact on others that my alma mater has made on me, I would consider that a huge accomplishment.”

On Oct. 26, McMichael received his award during the Evening of Stars Gala, which dates back to the early 1940s when the NC State Alumni Association began recognizing noteworthy graduates.

Mac McMichael stands with his fellow award recipients
Mac McMichael ’70 was joined by 12 fellow Distinguished Alumni Award recipients and NC State Alumni Association staff members during the Evening of Stars Gala on Oct. 26, 2023. (Credit: Renee Spring Photography)

“We are immensely proud to call Mac McMichael one of our own,” says David Hinks, dean of the Wilson College of Textiles.

“His journey from our college to becoming one of the most impactful leaders in the global textiles industry is a testament to his dedication, entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to lifelong learning. Mac’s legacy and philanthropy mirror that of his father, another textile manufacturing giant. His support is a true reflection of his commitment to the future of the Wilson College of Textiles and NC State by recruiting and enabling the next generation of American leadership.”

Following in his hero’s footsteps

When McMichael chose to dive into the textile industry, no one was surprised.

It was only natural that he’d mirror the actions of his biggest hero: Dalton McMichael, Sr.

“My father came a long way. He grew up on a farm without his father, who died when my dad was only three,” shares McMichael, whose eyes always fill with pride when speaking about his father. “My dad knew that an education would enable him to accomplish everything he did, which was a lot.”

After graduating from college in 1938 during the Great Depression, McMichael, Sr. stumbled upon his chosen career path — while hitchhiking. The man who picked him up shared how he’d recently turned down a job offer at Burlington Industries, a leading textiles manufacturer. Immediately, a lightbulb went off in his father’s mind.

“My dad hitched a ride back to Greensboro, where he had just come from, and went straight to the front office of Burlington Industries,” McMichael says, chuckling. “He sold his heart out to the manager and walked away with a job offer that day.” 

His father went on to co-found several companies in his lifetime — all focused on textiles. 

That inspiration led McMichael to enroll at the Wilson College of Textiles in the fall of 1966, and his mind was set on majoring in textile chemistry. 

Photo of Mac McMichael taken in 1970
Dalton “Mac” McMichael, Jr., photographed in 1970 for the Agromeck. 

As he reflects on his time on campus, McMichael realized that his academic program — along with the expansive opportunities offered by the college — was the perfect fit for him.

“My textiles degree from NC State has helped me understand the industry as a whole. Even though our business is quite specialized, my time at the college taught me the very technical knowledge and language I needed to succeed in this expansive field.”

— Mac McMichael, Jr. ’70

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in textile chemistry and an MBA from UNC-Chapel Hill, McMichael worked with his father for 21 years at a company called Macfield. It would later become acquired by Unifi, which propelled McMichael to branch off on his own.

In 1993, he established McMichael Mills, Inc. with a specific goal in mind: becoming a global innovator of yarn solutions for all brands, from startups to Fortune 500 corporations. 

Today, McMichael has not only met but exceeded that aim. 

McMichael Mills is an international leader in conventional- and air-covered elastomeric yarns. Like tiny rubber bands, these specific yarns stretch and then return to their normal shape, helping to make clothes both comfortable and flexible. His company’s two state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities — which are both located in Mayodan, North Carolina — produce over 500 unique customer-driven designs and more than 50 original innovations annually.

“As we grow and evolve, this company remains steadfast in lowering our carbon footprint through our business practices and corporate sustainability platform,” he says. “We also continue to give back to communities where our employees live and work by supporting local charities and area schools.”

Fostering the growth and development of student leaders

McMichael’s commitment to supporting others, especially those in need, has naturally extended to include NC State and the Wilson College of Textiles. 

When he first heard about the Centennial Scholarship Program in 2000, he saw its importance immediately. By making a world-class textile degree as affordable as possible, the college would always be able to recruit the best and brightest minds. 

“Our nation’s textile industry has the Wilson College of Textiles to thank for such extraordinary young talent being filtered into our applicant pools,” McMichael says. “I’m doing my part to ensure that students continue to bring their passion, skills and dedication to NC State and this college.” 

Established to honor the college’s 100th anniversary in 1999, the Centennial Scholarship Program provides students up to $22,000 per year for four years and an additional $7,500 to enrich their college experience by studying abroad, participating in leadership programs and exploring different career opportunities. 

“Mac’s contributions to our college are a testament to his character and the value of a Wilson College of Textiles education,” says Michael Ward, executive director of the North Carolina Textile Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the college. “His support will undoubtedly empower and inspire our students to reach their full potential and thrive in the industry.” 

Mac McMichael stands next to his family
Mac McMichael ’70 (center) was joined by his family at the Evening of Stars Gala on Oct. 26. Pictured from left to right: Bill Heard, Whitney Heard, Susan McMichael, Mac McMichael ’70, Emilee Brigman, Bo Brigman and Brack Brigman. (Credit: Renee Spring Photography)

McMichael’s philanthropic support has also impacted NC State’s Extraordinary Opportunity Scholarship Initiative (EOSI), which has helped to narrow the gap between the cost of higher education and what a student can actually afford. 

“Giving back to NC State is my way of saying that everyone deserves an opportunity,” he says. “My father always told me that getting an education was the most important thing a person could do. Helping someone have access to that will always be meaningful for me.” 

Another area that’s incredibly close to McMichael’s heart is NC State’s men’s golf program — a cherished pastime of his. When he’s not spending time with his wife, Susan, children or grandchildren, you’ll find McMichael on the nearest golf course ready to tee up. Being able to support up-and-coming golf professionals is a joy. 

Mac McMichael stands with the NC State men's golf team.
One of Mac McMichael’s favorite places to be is on the golf green. In this photo, McMichael (fourth from the left) is pictured with his fellow golf supporters Jim Brown (middle) and John Frazier (fourth from right) alongside the NC State men’s golf team. (Credit: Wolfpack Athletics)

“I believe in the future of our institution,” McMichael remarks. “I am proud to join a passionate community of supporters who are dedicated to ensuring that every student receives the opportunities they deserve.”