Creation of the institute continues Texas Tech University’s tradition of excellence in banking and finance.
With approval from the Board of Regents at their Oct. 16 meeting, Texas Tech University's Jerry S. Rawls College of Business established the E.W. & J. David Williams Institute for Community Banking & Finance. Made possible by a generous gift from longtime Texas Tech supporter and community bank executive J. David Williams and his wife Amanda, the new institute provides broad support for Rawls College's thriving banking and finance programs.
"My father and I are dedicated to the continued prosperity of the industry that has been so good to us and the communities we have served," Williams said. "Texas Tech's Rawls College shares that vision through its education of students focused on the banking industry. With Rawls College's dedication to educating our future bankers, our vision is to further develop these programs so that Rawls College is recognized as a leader in community banking and finance education to both undergraduate and postgraduate students."
The Williams Institute works hand in hand with Rawls College's Area of Finance. It oversees the Excellence in Banking Program, which provides an intense education to Finance students seeking careers in community and commercial banking, and the School of Banking, a well-established program for banking professionals to develop their leadership and banking skills for career enhancement
"I am deeply appreciative of J. David Williams' belief in the ability of our faculty, staff, and students to bring to life his vision for this institute," Margaret L. Williams, Ph.D., dean of Rawls College, said. "Establishing the first named institute or center within Rawls College is a big step forward for us, and we are excited to work with David and his family to achieve the goals of the institute."
Williams and his father E.W. focused their careers on community banking. Williams, a Lubbock native who now resides in Kerrville with his wife Amanda, found his start in banking with Citizens State Bank in Slaton and later in the Plainview area. He ultimately served as the chairman of HCSB (previously Hale County State Bank) before becoming the chairman and CEO of Centennial Bank in Lubbock. Williams also served as chairman of the Texas Independent Bank in Irving and later as chairman of the Independent Bankers Association of Texas. He is currently associated as a director of Happy State Bank in Amarillo and Gulf Capital Bank in Houston.
With his lifelong passion for community banking, Williams's gift supports scholarships, research, faculty and guest speakers, experiential learning, and classroom technology among other enhancements for banking and finance education.
"As multigenerational community bankers in Texas and Northeastern New Mexico," Williams said, "the vision our family has for the Williams Institute at Rawls College is to fulfill our life-long commitment to our industry and provide for education in community banking and finance to better serve communities in Texas and the Southwest."
Including his father, E.W., in the naming of the institute meant recognizing the Williams family's history and support of community banking. E.W., who grew up in Garza County, began his career immediately after college as an assistant cashier at the First National Bank in Grapevine, Texas. After pursuing additional banking education opportunities and certifications, he served in roles with Citizens State Bank, HCSB, and FNB New Mexico. E.W. became the president and CEO of Citizens National Bank in Lubbock and later joined Amarillo National Bank.
E.W. is also remembered for his generosity. He was instrumental in establishing the Northwest Texas Hospital in Amarillo and subsequently named the 1976 Amarillo Globe-News Man of the Year.
Jeff Mercer, Ph.D., leads the new institute. Mercer, who continues his roles as the Centennial Bank Chair in Finance and director of the School of Banking, brings nearly 30 years of finance expertise in practice and higher education to the position. His work has appeared in numerous outlets including Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and Financial Times among other national and international publications and news broadcasts. In addition to his academic expertise, Mercer is a partner in McDonald Capital Management LLC.
"The Williams family's legacy of supporting community banking and finance education and research at Texas Tech University is further cemented by this wonderful gift," Mercer said.
"David has for years been supportive of excellence in banking education for our students and the School of Banking and has wanted to make an impact on all that we do. This gift is a game changer and will help us move closer to being the premier provider of banking education in the country."