Texas Tech University
Jerry S. Rawls Building

History & Jerry S. Rawls

Jerry S. Rawls

In December of 2000, Jerry S. Rawls contributed a record-breaking cash gift of $25 million to the Texas Tech University College of Business Administration, officially renaming the college to Jerry S. Rawls College of Business. His generous gift has fueled many of the ongoing initiatives in the college and assisted in facilitating the education of a new generation of leaders.

A Houston native, Rawls earned a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Texas Tech University in 1967. He was selected to two engineering honoraries and played freshman basketball, was a member of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity and Saddle Tramps, served as a member of the Student Senate and Interfraternity Council, and was elected Business Manager of the Texas Tech Student Body. Rawls then earned an M.S. in Industrial Administration from the Krannert Graduate School of Management at Purdue University.

From 1968 to 1988, he worked for Raychem Corporation, first in sales and marketing and then in national-level management positions. In 1988, Rawls and a partner formed Finisar Corporation to conduct fiber optic research.

Four years later, they revolutionized the industry standards for gigabit fiber optic communication between computing devices.

In 1999, Finisar went public. By the close of trading on the first day, Finisar stock rose 373%, making Finisar the seventh-largest first-day gainer in the history of Wall Street at that time. In 2000, Forbes listed Finisar as a top 500 company, and Business Week deemed it as one of the 100 Hot Growth Companies. In 2019, Finisar was acquired by II-VI Corp. of Pittsburgh, PA. Finisar products are still sold under the Finisar brand and continue to be a technology leader for fiber optic subsystems and high-speed networks. The company was built on a foundation of over 14,000 employees around the globe, including operations in the U.S., Malaysia, Singapore, Shanghai, Munich, Denmark, India, Korea and Sydney.

In 2018, Rawls retired from Finisar Corporation as Chairman and CEO.

Our History

1923 Texas Technological College is established.

1926 The Department of Business Education, housed within the Division of Arts and Sciences, consists of Economics and Business Administration.

1932 The first B.A. in Business Administration degrees are awarded. Graduates include R. Canon Clements (1913-2006) who is the first Rhodes Scholar from Texas Tech and is later named a Distinguished Alumnus.

1934 The Honorable Preston E. Smith earns a B.A. in Economics. Smith goes on to spend more than 25 years in state government and is later recognized by the college as a Distinguished Alumnus.

1942 The Division of Commerce is created at Texas Technological College.

1947 The Division of Commerce is renamed the Division of Business Administration and later changed to the College of Business Administration.

1955 The Division of Business Administration consists of 22 professors in five departments, including accounting and finance, business education and secretarial administration, economics, management and marketing. The division offers two undergraduate degrees and two graduate degrees.

1958 The College of Business Administration's undergraduate programs are accredited.

1964 The college is the fourth largest in the nation in terms of enrollment.

1965 The college announces plans to open a new building at 15th Street and Flint Avenue, the former location of Texas Technological College's Horse Barns.

1968 Rosemary Pledger receives the college's first Ph. D in Business Administration.

1976 The college creates a new academic area - Information Systems and Quantitative Sciences.

1978 Mr. I. Wylie Briscoe establishes the first endowed chair by an individual in the College of Business Administration. The I. Wylie and Elizabeth Briscoe Chair of Bank Management is the first chair in bank management at any Texas university and includes an endowment of $500,000.

The College of Business Administration awards its 100th Ph. D in Business Administration to Dr. Tony Kakar.

1981 Dr. Jay Conover becomes the first faculty member of the college to receive Texas Tech's highest faculty honor, the Paul Whitfield Horn Professorship.

The college's graduate programs are accredited.

1982 The college's accounting program receives official accreditation from AACSB, making Texas Tech one of only 17 schools with an accredited accounting program.

1984 The inaugural Dallas Alumni Event is held on July 12 at the Doubletree Inn and has 50 alumni in attendance. Now named the Annual Dallas Scholarship event, this event hosts more than 600 people and is the college's largest scholarship fundraiser.

1987 The college's first Distinguished Alumnus Award is presented to James L. "Rocky" Johnson (B.B.A. in Accounting, 1949), who was CEO of GTE Corporation for many years and was also a Texas Tech Regent.

1993 Dean Carl H. Stem establishes the Ambassador program to allow students to assist in recruiting efforts and college functions.

1994 The MBA/HOM program is established with Dr. John Blair as director. Dr. John Blair receives the Senior-Level Healthcare Executive Regents Award from the American College of Healthcare Executives for his contributions to healthcare education.

1995 Dr. Shelby D. Hunt, Paul Whitfield Horn Professor of Marketing, receives -for an unprecedented, third time- the Journal of Marketing's "Harold H. Maynard Award", which is given each year for the article contributing most to marketing theory and thought. Two decades later, the Journal of Marketing honors Dr. Hunt by renaming the award as the "Shelby D. Hunt/Harold H. Maynard Award."

Alumna Judy Sims (B.B.A. in Accounting, 1974) receives the Medallions for Entrepreneurship Award from the Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society, making her one of only four recipients in the country.

1997 The International Programs office is established to create, market and administer international education programs.

The Student Managed Investment Fund (SMIF) is created by Dr. William P. Dukes, professor of finance and former WWII Brigadier General. The class is designed to enable students to gain experience in selecting stocks and managing a portfolio. The program is made possible by an initial contribution of $500,000 from alumnus James E. Sowell and his wife, Elizabeth.

1998 The Writing Center, now the Georgie G. Snyder Center for Business Communication, is established to assist students with business communication skills.

2001 The Physician MBA program in Health Organization Management (HOM) is rolled out with 18 physicians enrolled in the two-year program.

The college's Advisory Council, composed of 50 founding members, is established.

2002 The college is officially renamed the Jerry S. Rawls College of Business Administration in recognition of Rawls' unprecedented $25 million endowment. Rawls graduated from Texas Tech with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering in 1967.

2003 The Career Management Center opens to provide dedicated career services to Rawls students.

2004 The college offers a Bachelor of Business Administration in Energy Commerce.

2009 The college's undergraduate programs are ranked 77th by Bloomberg Businessweek.

The Rawls College offers an MBA for Working Professionals that is designed for managers and professionals who wish to remain fully employed as they pursue their graduate degree.

2011 The new state-of-the-art building is completed. The building receives the Gold Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification based on its energy use, lighting, water and material use, as well as incorporating a variety of other sustainable strategies. This is the first academic building on the Texas Tech campus primarily funded by alumni.

2012 The college creates a new academic area - Energy, Economics and Law.

2013 The Rawls Business Leadership Program, a dynamic learning experience designed to provide students with industry-relevant knowledge and experiences to excel in leadership roles, is established.

The college receives approval from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to create a School of Accounting. It is the first separately-accredited School of Accounting in Texas.

2014 The college launches a one-year STEM MBA for individuals wishing to pursue a leadership position in the field.

In an effort to strengthen the Rawls alumni network in local communities, the college launches the Rawls Raiders Alumni Network.

2016 The new building addition is completed. The 38,000 square foot addition includes more classrooms, offices, a state-of-the-art testing center for student exams, a third-floor behavioral research laboratory and a multipurpose space for events, guest speakers and student engagement.

The Rawls College of Business Advisory Council celebrates 15 years of accomplishments.

The Area of Marketing and Supply Chain Management offers a Bachelor of Business Administration in Supply Chain Management.

2017 The Rawls eLearning Institute is established to support faculty in designing and developing technology-based instructional materials.

2018 The Center for Sales and Customer Relationship Excellence at Rawls College was established to prepare and develop future sales and customer relationship management leaders.

2019 In response to industry demand for qualified bankers, Rawls College launched the new Excellence in Banking Program.

Rawls College launched a new 30-hour, online, M.S. in Marketing Research and Analytics designed to teach students to conduct marketing research studies and analyze data using cutting edge analytical tools in a digital economy.

Rawls College launched a new online MBA program that gives students the ability to earn their degree from anywhere in the world.

2020 Rawls College partnered with the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Nursing to offer a fully online, dual-degree program which allows students to simultaneously earn a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and an MBA.

Through a generous gift from J. David Williams and his wife Amanda, the E.W. & J. David Williams Institute for Community Banking & Finance was established.

2021 To provide undergraduate students with a unique opportunity to participate in faculty-mentored research at Rawls College, the Undergraduate Research Program was created.

In honor of Dr. Shannon Rinaldo, an associate professor of marketing who passed away from glioblastoma in 2019, the Rawls Student Research Pool was officially renamed to the Shannon Rinaldo Student Research Pool.

As a way to encourage parent involvement at Rawls College, the Rawls Parents Council was formed.

2022 U.S. News & World Report ranked Rawls College's Online MBA Program No. 42 in the nation, up 58 spots from 2021.

Rawls College's Master of Science in Data Science (MSDS) program ranked No.3 on the Best Online Master's in Data Science Programs list by Fortune Education. Additionally, the program ranked No. 21 on the Best Online Non-MBA Master's in Business Programs list by U.S. News & World Report.

Fueled by support from two prominent business leaders, the Texas Tech Center for Family Business & Entrepreneurship is relaunched as the Alderson & Griffin Center for Family Business & Entrepreneurship.

Rawls College's Master of Science in Data Science (MSDS) program is ranked No.3 on the Best Online Master's in Data Science Programs in 2022 list by Fortune Education. Additionally, the program is ranked No. 21 on the 2022 Best Online Non-MBA Master's in Business Programs list by U.S. News & World Report.