New chair prepares future of textile and apparel industry

As a child, and later as a college student, Ting Chi noticed the impact the textile and apparel industry has on the economy.

Head and shoulder photo of Ting Chi
Ting Chi


“I saw the evolution of the textile industry in China, and it was a reflection of the economic growth in the country,” said Chi, a professor in the WSU Department of Apparel, Merchandising, Design, and Textiles (AMDT). “The industry played a huge role in addressing poverty and providing jobs for people.”

That experience spurred him into a career studying and teaching about the industry.

Now Chi is taking on a new role as chair of AMDT.

“I’m confident that Ting’s years of experience, plus his dedication to students receiving the best education, will continue to grow the success of AMDT,” said André-Denis Wright, dean of WSU’s College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Science (CAHNRS).

Chi arrived at WSU in 2008, and has been the AMDT graduate coordinator for six years. As chair, he will continue to teach classes and do research.

“We work very closely with the industry in AMDT because it’s such a fast-evolving field,” Chi said. “Our advisory board plays a key role in helping us refine and update our curriculum, such as adding more math and business classes.”

That’s needed because companies are making more decisions based on hard data and statistics rather than feel or tradition.

“We know how to prepare students for the 21st century workforce,” he said. “They have to be able to solve problems and be adaptive and nimble to succeed.”

Chi said he appreciates the impact his predecessor, Vicki McCracken, had on the department. She is leaving AMDT this month after accepting the position of Associate Dean and Director of Extension in CAHNRS last year.

“We’ve done a great job preparing undergraduates,” Chi said. “But we’ve also been growing our research productivity and teaching more graduate students, more than tripling our masters and Ph.D. students in the last five years.”

Beyond just mentoring and teaching students, Chi knows his research has a helpful impact on the world.

“We have to make textiles and apparel that don’t hurt the environment,” he said. “Minimizing the negative impacts on humans and the Earth is really important and has motivated me throughout my career.

Chi is a renowned educator and scholar in the field of textiles and apparel. His research program focuses on strategic marketing and supply chain management for sustainable business development in the textile and apparel industry.

His work has been recognized nationally and internationally, with more than 100 refereed journal articles and conference proceedings, and has been funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, California Agriculture Research Initiatives, Walmart Foundation, Cotton Inc., Murdock Charitable Trust, and many private companies.

Chi’s awards and honors include the National Science Foundation Young Scholar Award, the Global Outstanding Paper-Marketing Award from the Emerald Literati Network, the Mid-Career Excellence Award from the International Textile and Apparel Association, and WSU’s Exceptional Faculty Award and President’s Award.

Taking what he learned at an early age and now helping the world make friendlier environmental decisions, Chi is ready and excited for his new role.

“I know we’ll continue the positive momentum and success of our students and research endeavors,” he said. “And I’m so proud to help guide this department.”