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Terwilligers craft generous gifts for NC State University

[lead]“Even when we lived up on the Virginia border, I would come into town every once in a while just to make some sawdust,” remarked Eric Terwilliger, as he reminisced about his time at the NC State University Crafts Center.[/lead]

It wasn’t until he and his wife, Lisa, were considering estate planning that they both realized they’d be making a lot more than sawdust.

Eric ‘91 and Lisa ‘94 Terwilliger were honored in October 2018 for their unique gifts to the Crafts Center and an endowed scholarship during a ceremony hosted by the Division of Academic and Student Affairs. Rather than providing a joint contribution, Eric and Lisa each provided a generous gift directed toward their own fond memories at NC State.

Eric chose to make an unrestricted estate gift to the Crafts Center — one of the largest in the center’s more than 54-year history, while Lisa chose to start an endowment in support of need-based scholarships for students.

“We were thinking ‘Estate planning, what do we want to do?’ and we were struggling,” said Lisa, about how they decided on a gift to NC State. “Finally, I said, ‘Let’s answer a different question: What’s been the most significant thing in your life?’ And both of us said ‘Going to college.’”

Having met and fallen in love as students at NC State, the Terwilligers’ Wolfpack spirit runs deep. But it was their individual student experiences at the university that guided them in their giving as alumni.

Being a first-generation college student, Lisa says everything was “scary” when she first came to NC State but her experience with caring university staff members who helped her overcome barriers was a memory that stayed with her.

“It’s been the most significant event, next to meeting [Eric], of my life – coming here and getting a degree,” said Lisa, “When I thought of what I wanted to give back, it was to help some other underprivileged young person get a degree.”

Though Eric equally values his student experience at NC State, it’s been his time as an alumnus utilizing the Crafts Center that left an impression with him. Eric says the Crafts Center became his second home, with many visits throughout the past 15 years. Over time, he says, working with his hands became a welcome reprieve from his IT career. Spending time in the woodshop was a chance for Eric to disconnect and de-stress. Lisa saw the change first hand.

“When he gets so stressed out, all he does is come here and he comes home eight hours later and he’s a different person,” said Lisa, “It’s really about quality of life.”

“Lisa’s gift is an endowment and I didn’t want mine to be that way. I wanted it to be a lump sum so they could do something extravagant,” said Eric, “I wanted whoever it was making those future decisions to have that flexibility.”

Crafting the art of giving

During the ceremony the Terwilligers were presented with the Think and Do the Extraordinary Campaign Leadership Medallion in recognition of their roles as philanthropic leaders at NC State. They received wooden, hand-turned pens, made in the Crafts Center by a former instructor. The couple also met with university officials who offered thanks for their generous gifts.

NC State Crafts Center Director Carol Nix says the Terwilligers’ gifts will go a long way in furthering the center’s efforts to bring in new media and introduce new students to the art of craft.

“We’re at a great crossroads right now,” said Nix about the center’s plan to incorporate new programming aimed at reaching more students. She says the Terwilligers’ gift will go a long way toward that goal while preserving the heritage of traditional crafts. “The Terwilligers’ gift is very significant,” Nix explained, “and we are very, very appreciative.”

The Crafts Center is one of the few university centers of its kind that is also available to the public, providing valuable skills to the surrounding community.

“The arts at NC State are incredibly vibrant,” said Rich Holly, associate dean of University College and executive director for the arts. “We find that there are any number of opportunities that students want to be able to take advantage of and, sometimes, the resources just aren’t there. So, by gaining private support, we’ll be able to create more opportunities that, otherwise, just simply wouldn’t be available to the students.”

Supporting NC State well into the future

Giving back to the Crafts Center or any program within Arts NC State is an excellent way to support the entire student body. Arts NC State courses and programming are available to all students regardless of major — a rarity in the traditional university system.

To learn more about making a gift to Arts NC State as part of the Think and Do the Extraordinary Campaign, please call 919.513.4101 or visit