Texas Tech University

Contributions from Jerry S. Rawls Fund Undergraduate Teaching Initiatives


April 30, 2021

Jerry S. Rawls

The programs in the Jerry S. Rawls College of Business and Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering will reward outstanding teaching in undergraduate classrooms.

Twenty years ago, Jerry S. Rawls made a transformative gift to the College of Business Administration that has helped make the college, now carrying his name, become one of the best academic entities in the U.S.

Now, his latest philanthropic gift to Texas Tech University hopes to do the same for two colleges in terms of rewarding excellence in teaching in undergraduate programs and enhancing the visibility of faculty who make classroom learning their focus.

Thanks to a $562,500 gift split between the Jerry S. Rawls College of Business and the Edward E. Whitacre Jr, College of Engineering, both colleges have initiated programs that will recognize and bolster faculty and instructors who have the greatest impact on student learning outcomes.

“Jerry Rawls' impact on the university, our faculty and students, can't be overstated,” said Lawrence Schovanec, Texas Tech president. “His generosity has profoundly impacted the learning environment of our students and contributed to enhanced teaching resources for our faculty. These gifts will provide additional support and well-deserved recognition for our faculty in these colleges.”

Each year, the program will reward faculty and instructors recognized by students for their impact on student learning. The purpose is to help both colleges recruit and retain excellent teachers in all disciplines.

Lawrence Schovanec
Lawrence Schovanec

For the Jerry S. Rawls Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Awards in the Rawls College of Business, $262,500 will go to establish four annual awards – two $20,000 awards for full-time faculty and two $5,000 awards for part-time instructors or doctoral students.

Nominations will be accepted each spring from current undergraduate students who have taken a course within the Rawls College of Business within the past 10 years, and Rawls College alumni. Those nominated will be reviewed by a seven-member committee composed of three faculty members and four students and chaired by a member of the Texas Tech Teaching Academy from another college. Anyone who has taught a class within the previous two calendar years is eligible for the award.

Those nominated for the award will be evaluated on teaching information and skills valued by employers and relevant to job performance; passion for the subject matter and engagement with students; and clarity and structure of the learning experience.

Margaret Williams
Margaret L. Williams

“We are grateful to Jerry Rawls for funding these prestigious awards, which call attention to the value our alumni place on the outstanding work of our faculty and doctoral students in the undergraduate classroom,” said Margaret L. Williams, dean of the Rawls College of Business. “The announcement of each year's awards will be one of the highlights of our academic year, and we look forward to making the first awards this summer.”  

For the Whitacre College of Engineering, a similar $300,000 gift will go toward establishing three Jerry S. Rawls Distinguished Undergraduate Educator Awards – a $20,000 award for full-time faculty, and two $15,000 awards for lecturers, instructors and graduate part-time instructors. The awards will be for a two-year period and those receiving the award can accept it all at once or spread it out equally over the two years.

Nominations will be accepted from students, faculty or alumni each spring. For the full-time faculty award, those nominations will be reviewed by a five-member committee composed of aspirational peer educators from other institutional teaching academies and one educator from the Texas Tech Teaching Academy from outside the college. For the instructors/lecturers/GPTI awards, the committee will be composed of four educators from the Texas Tech Teaching Academy and will be chaired by the associate dean of undergraduate studies.

Al Sacco Jr.
Al Sacco Jr.

Nominations will include student evaluations, the results of a survey from students who had the faculty member in the class, the latest peer evaluations, previous teaching and education awards, educational journal articles or conference proceedings and national or international educational presentations.  

“The Whitacre College of Engineering is known for its outstanding students who are taught by outstanding educators,” said Al Sacco Jr., dean of the college. “The Jerry S. Rawls Distinguished Undergraduate Educator Awards will be among the most prestigious awards of their kind in the nation. These awardees will be a testimonial to a Texas Tech education that produced industrial leaders like Jerry Rawls and will go a long way toward continuing the tradition of, ‘From Here, It's Possible.”™