Texas Tech University

About 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.