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NC State University Foundation Board Presents Godwin Award and Menscer Cup

The group recognizes the contributions to the university of the late Steve Schuster as well as Ed and Deb Fitts.

From left: Chancellor Randy Woodson and College of Engineering Dean Louis Martin-Vega with Deb and Ed Fitts, recipients of the 2019 Darrell and Carolyn Menscer Cup.
From left: Chancellor Randy Woodson and College of Engineering Dean Louis Martin-Vega with Deb and Ed Fitts, recipients of the 2019 Darrell and Carolyn Menscer Cup.

The NC State University Foundation Board recently presented its annual awards that recognize those who go above and beyond in their service, leadership, advocacy and generosity in support of NC State.

The foundation board recognized the late Steven D. “Steve” Schuster posthumously with the 2020 Jerry and Elizabeth Godwin Red Torch Award. An alumnus of the College of Design and a prominent architect who changed the entire development narrative for center-city Raleigh, Schuster passed away in 2019; his wife, Mary Anne Howard, accepted the award.

The board also honored Ed and Deb Fitts, who received the 2019 Darrell and Carolyn Menscer Cup. Ed Fitts is an alumnus of the College of Engineering, and the Fittses are longtime benefactors of the college and its department of industrial and systems engineering. Their transformational support has included a naming gift for Fitts-Woolard Hall.

The awards were given June 3 during a dinner at the Umstead Hotel and Spa.

A 501(c)(3) public charitable organization, the NC State University Foundation actively supports the university’s land-grant mission and strategic goals through fundraising, the acceptance of private gifts, and the management of endowments and investments. Its work supports NC State’s colleges, libraries and other university-based programmatic initiatives.

Foundation board members meet semiannually, and typically present the Godwin Award as part of their spring-summer meeting schedule and the Menscer Cup during the fall-winter session. The most recent round of awards presentations had been postponed after the winners had been selected.

Mary Anne Howard receiving an award from Mike Constantino and Chancellor Woodson
As Chancellor Randy Woodson looks on, Mary Anne Howard accepts the 2020 Jerry and Elizabeth Godwin Red Torch Award on behalf of her late husband, Steven D. “Steve” Schuster, from Mike Constantino.

At the June 3 event, Chancellor Randy Woodson and Brian Sischo, vice chancellor for university advancement, also highlighted the successes and challenges of the past year, the importance of private support and the progress of the Think and Do the Extraordinary Campaign. With nearly 130,000 donors, the Campaign has raised more than $1.9 billion, making a difference for students and faculty, transforming the physical campus, expanding the university’s endowment and more.

“I am both grateful and humbled by the response of the Wolfpack community, because the changes we are seeing include a growing feeling that we’re all in this together. That engagement will benefit our university for years to come,” Woodson said.

Godwin Red Torch Award: Steve Schuster

The annual Red Torch Award recognizes extraordinary individuals or families who have volunteered with leadership, dedication and distinction to further the mission of NC State and the Foundation, sharing their expertise, counsel and resources. Libby and Jerry Godwin, dedicated university supporters in their own right, established an endowment for its support in 2007.  

Schuster graduated from NC State in 1973 with a bachelor’s of environmental design in architecture from the College of Design. He later became an adjunct faculty member with the college, as well as a committed volunteer to it and the university as a whole, sharing with Howard a legacy of involvement.

Schuster served on the the Campaign Cabinet, the Design Leaders Council, the NC State University Foundation Board, the College of Design Publications Committee and the College of Design Architecture Advisory Board.

He generously gave of his money as well as his time. One of his most impactful gifts came in 2016, when Schuster and Howard established the Steven D. Schuster and Mary Anne Howard Architecture Scholarship Endowment to support full-time architecture students.

This and his many other philanthropic efforts qualified Schuster for membership in two of NC State’s most prestigious giving societies: the W.C. Riddick Society and the R.S. Pullen Society.

The College of Design presented Schuster with its Wings on Wings awarded in 2003. The award is given to individuals who have demonstrated a willingness to make significant contributions to the College of Design community.

In 2012, Schuster received the College of Design Distinguished Alumnus Award, which recognizes the achievements of talented design professionals, and in 2015, he received its Designlife Award, which recognizes the significant contributions of an individual or group to design in the Southeast.

the 2020 Jerry and Elizabeth Godwin Red Torch Award
The 2020 Jerry and Elizabeth Godwin Red Torch Award.

“In everything he did, Steve served as an example and an inspiration for others, professionally and in giving back,” said Mike Constantino, chair of the NC State University Foundation Board of Directors, who presented the Godwin Award to Howard. His gifts included “the ability to bring people and communities together, to build consensus, and to design buildings and spaces that were functional and welcoming.”

Schuster’s other accolades include the American Institute of Architects (AIA) NC Firm Award (2007), the AIA NC Gold Medal (2012), Raleigh Hall of Fame induction (2014) and Tar Heel of the Year by the News & Observer (2014).

One of his many noteworthy career achievements was his role in the revitalization of downtown Raleigh’s warehouse district. As a former founding principal of the Clearscapes architecture firm, he was a creative innovator who helped breathe new life into structures and neighborhoods.

His last major project and contribution to the community was the design and completion of the Amtrak train station downtown.

He was also a champion of the arts and historic preservation. Schuster served on the National Trust for Historic Preservation National Board of Advisors; the Preservation North Carolina Board; the AIA Board of Directors for the South Atlantic Region; and the SAR Conference Planning Committee. He chaired the Raleigh Planning Commission.

“Steve was a valued friend, colleague, mentor and leader to so many people. He was one of those wise, kind people who truly made anything he was involved in better,” Woodson said. “We are forever grateful for everything he accomplished in support of NC State.”

Menscer Cup: Ed and Deb Fitts

The Menscer Cup is bestowed each year by the NC State University Foundation to individuals, families or foundations exemplifying the extraordinary philanthropy, dedication and leadership of former foundation board chair Darrell Menscer and his late wife Carolyn. Established in 1997 and also supported by an endowment, it is the foundation’s highest honor in recognition of philanthropy.

The Fittses’ transformational gifts to scholarships, fellowships, faculty positions and cutting-edge facilities have gone hand in hand with their strategic, visionary thinking, explained Charlie Stallings, Constantino’s predecessor as Foundation Board chair, who presented the award.

A native of Littleton, Ed Fitts attributes much of his success to the strong background he received at NC State, where he earned his bachelor’s of science in industrial engineering in 1961.

Fitts is the former president and CEO of Dopaco Inc., a company he founded in 1979. He began his career with Sonoco Products Company, where he served 18 years, eventually becoming vice president of paperboard packaging. In 1979, he purchased Sonoco’s folding carton operation in Downingtown, Pennsylvania, and renamed the business unit Dopaco.

During Fitts’ 27-year tenure as chairman and CEO, Dopaco grew from a company of 125 employees with sales of $10 million to 1,500 employees across seven plants with sales of over $400 million annually, while maintaining a strong commitment to environmentally friendly packaging and processes.

The 2019 Darrell and Carolyn Menscer Cup.
The 2019 Darrell and Carolyn Menscer Cup.

Deb Fitts has become an honorary, and highly supportive, member of the Wolfpack in recent years. An alumna of Ursinus College and Penn State University, she enjoyed a successful 25-year career in the pharmaceutical industry and volunteered for many years as a consultant to the United Nations as part of the Global Compact initiative.

The Fittses are members of NC State’s Alexander Quarles Holladay Lifetime Giving Society, which includes the university’s most generous supporters.

In 2005, a transformational gift ensured that NC State’s Edward P. Fitts Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE) became the first endowed academic department in the history of the University of North Carolina system. Ed Fitts developed an associated business plan for the department to support its advance to the top echelon.

Support over the years for industrial and systems engineering has also included establishment of seven endowments:

  • the Edward P. Fitts Scholarship
  • the Edward P. Fitts Distinguished Professorship
  • the A. Doug Allison Distinguished Professorship
  • the Clifton A. Anderson Distinguished Professorship
  • the Dopaco Inc. Distinguished Professorship
  • the Edgar S. Woolard Distinguished Professorship
  • the Edward P. Fitts Fellowship Endowment

In addition to their support through all of these efforts, the Fittses have made many other gifts to funds supporting teaching, learning, research and more.

Their leadership culminated in a historic gift to the College of Engineering. Together with Ed and Peggy Woolard, they led the way for the college’s newest state-of-the-art facility on Centennial Campus: Fitts-Woolard Hall. The building opened last fall and continues to become more vibrant as more faculty and students return to campus — enhancing learning opportunities, catalyzing innovation and transforming engineering throughout North Carolina and beyond.

Ed Fitts organized and served for over 10 years as chair of the Industrial and Systems Engineering Advisory Board and served on the board of directors for the NC State Engineering Foundation 2003-2011. He has inspired many others to service as well.

He is the recipient of the university’s highest nonacademic award, the Watauga Medal, as well as the Industrial and Systems Engineering Distinguished Alumni Award and the Distinguished Engineering Alumni Award. He is a lifetime member of the NC State Alumni Association.

Beyond NC State, Ed Fitts’ numerous achievements include receiving the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers’ President’s Award in 2008 and the Captains of Industry Award in 2011 for his distinguished service to the industrial engineering profession.

Ed and Deb Fitts have wide-ranging interests. They developed the BRAND Napa Valley winery and have even developed and produced a family comedy film.

In addition to their extensive contributions to the advancement of NC State, the Fittses’ philanthropic interests include Deb’s dedicated support for a community food bank and their now full-time, visionary mission to revitalize Ed’s hometown of Littleton and its economy.

“For Ed and Deb, philanthropy is holistic. They have a passion for seeing a challenge, a need or unmet potential and asking how they can help — not just financially, but also through advising, innovating, making connections and rolling up their sleeves to do the work behind the scenes,” Woodson said. “Their support of our College of Engineering continues to be transformational.”

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