Texas Tech University

Impactful Individual: Jerry S. Rawls

In 2001, Jerry S. Rawls contributed a record-breaking cash gift of $25 million to Texas Tech's College of Business Administration.

Rawls College | October 10, 2023

As Texas Tech University celebrates its centennial year in 2023, the Jerry S. Rawls College of Business will highlight impactful individuals from years past. While each person be it as a student, alumni, friend, faculty or staff member may have impacted the college or their industry differently, one thing will always be constant: they are all part of the Rawls College legacy.

A Houston native, Jerry S. Rawls earned a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Texas Tech University in 1967 and a master's degree in industrial administration from the Krannert Graduate School of Management at Purdue University in 1968. In 1988, Rawls and a partner formed Finisar Corporation to conduct fiber optic research. In 1999, Finisar went public, and by the close of trading on the first day, its stock rose 373 percent. In 2018, Rawls retired from Finisar Corporation as Chairman and CEO.

To this day, Mr. Rawls has continued his dedication to service and leadership through many generous philanthropic endeavors. In 2001, he contributed a record-breaking cash gift of $25 million to Texas Techs College of Business Administration that has helped make the college, now carrying his name, become one of the best academic entities in the nation. Mr. Rawls's generous gift continues to enable the college to focus on excellence in research and education while preparing a new generation of business leaders.

In 2003, Mr. Rawls donated more than $8.5 million to help fund the creation of a golf course on Texas Techs campus. The Rawls Course is a world-renowned NCAA championship course supported by revenue from students, faculty, staff, donors, and the general public. Additionally, he played a key role in helping Texas Tech garner support for its billion-dollar Vision & Tradition fundraising effort from 2005 to 2013.

Most recently, Mr. Rawls made a gift to Texas Tech, which allowed Rawls College and the Edward E. Whitacre Jr, College of Engineering to create programs to recognize faculty and instructors who have the greatest impact on student learning outcomes. As the largest teaching award within Rawls College, the Jerry S. Rawls Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Awards Program recognizes faculty and doctoral students who consistently go above and beyond to inspire students, challenge them to do their best work, and prepare them for long-term success."

For more information on the impact of Rawls College, please visit the centennial exhibit at the Texas Tech Museum.