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Fitts-Woolard Hall Dedication puts engineering, alumni support on display

The College of Engineering hosted a special dedication ceremony for Fitts-Woolard Hall on Friday, Oct. 29, 2021. The ceremony included remarks by Chancellor Randy Woodson, College of Engineering Dean Louis Martin-Vega and industrial engineering alumnus Edward P. Fitts ’61, followed by tours of the dynamic new facility.

Fitts-Woolard Hall is the latest addition to NC State’s Centennial Campus, one of the premier university research parks in the U.S. The building spans 225,000 square feet and houses the College of Engineering’s Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering; the Edward P. Fitts Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE); cutting-edge laboratories; administrative offices; and more than 100 classrooms. NC State officials said the goal is to provide students and faculty members with the space they need to “leverage the power of convergence across disciplines in an atmosphere unmatched anywhere in the nation.”

The construction of Fitts-Woolard Hall was made possible by a unique public-private partnership. Half of the $153 million needed for the building was provided by public funds, thanks to a bond referendum passed by North Carolina voters in 2016, while NC State secured the remaining funding through private philanthropy. The latter was fueled by a lead gift from Fitts and his fellow industrial engineering alumnus Edgar S. Woolard ’56, for whom Fitts-Woolard Hall is named.

Another example of the alumni support involved in this project is the new Smith Lab, named by industrial engineering alumnus, CTE President/CEO and NC State Board of Trustees Vice Chair Ed Weisiger Jr. ’82 in honor of ISE Senior Lecturer and Assistant Head Emeritus Clarence Smith Jr. ’69, ’83. Smith said he believes this unexpected gesture speaks to the kindness of his former pupil.

“I am an NC State graduate and was on faculty at NC State for 32 years,” Smith said. “I taught and advised more than 4,000 students [during that time]. Ed was one of the first students I taught. When I found out about the gift, I called Ed to thank him, and I got very emotional. I still get very emotional.

“It’s such an honor,” he added. “I believe the Smith Lab is the only lab in the building, thus far, named for a former faculty member.”

Fitts-Woolard Hall unofficially opened in the summer of 2020, but out of an abundance of caution regarding COVID-19, university officials chose to postpone the dedication until faculty, alumni, donors and other members of the Pack could safely join to honor its completion. That decision led to the inclusion of the ceremony in this year’s Red and White Week, which ran Oct. 24-30. The Fitts-Woolard Hall ceremony served as one of the annual homecoming celebration’s final events.

The timing of the dedication was also fitting because of the rapidly approaching end to NC State’s Think and Do the Extraordinary Campaign. This five-year philanthropic endeavor, set to conclude Dec. 31, 2021, has seen more than $1.9 billion raised for scholarships, fellowships, distinguished professorships, infrastructure improvements and more. Fitts-Woolard Hall is a major part of that campaign success, along with the completion of the university’s iconic Memorial Belltower and other causes for Pack pride.

This post was originally published in Giving News.