Fueling Texas’ banking industry future

Texas Tech University has a rich and successful history of establishing educational portals that address the needs of industries, not only in West Texas but throughout the world. From the Health Sciences Center to the School of Veterinary Medicine, soon to open in Amarillo, Texas Tech has recognized how best to serve West Texas communities by producing qualified graduates eager to contribute.

Once again, Texas Tech has recognized another need and is on the precipice of developing a solution. With the help of local industry leaders, the Jerry S. Rawls College of Business will begin the Excellence in Banking Program this fall, designed to produce top-notch bankers by giving students a comprehensive understanding of modern banking operations and practices.

The economic growth of numerous industries in West Texas has led to increased demand for bankers who have a passion for the industry and can serve in smaller communities around the state. The largest obstacle for many banks is finding quality bankers to fill positions that we have today, as well as when we want to expand into additional markets. There are a lot of bankers out there, but there is a shortage of well-educated, trained and experienced bankers with the quality that the banking industry demands. The desire for banks to develop industry leaders from within is crucial.

With the help of Rawls College of Business, Dean Margaret L. Williams and Senior Associate Dean Jeff Mercer, the Centennial Bank Chair and professor of finance, the Excellence in Banking Program will develop banking graduates who will possess the tools and knowledge necessary to be successful bankers at any level of the industry and in communities of any size in the state.

In the Excellence in Banking Program, finance students will complete specialized courses in advanced banking topics that will help them have long-term success in the industry. The students also will benefit from the experience and knowledge of seasoned banking industry leaders who will ensure they are prepared for the demands of the industry.

The comprehensive curriculum within the program is designed to prepare graduates to quickly become leaders at community and rural banks, where there will be a growing gap because of the oncoming retirements of the baby boomer generation. Similar programs are greatly desired by students interested in banking and finance, as they know that upon graduation they will be more marketable and employable. The Excellence in Banking Program at Texas Tech will only add to that.

The program also will provide students with exposure to the banking industry from outside the classroom as well, including a required banking internship, a mentoring program, conferences and workshops, student organization activities and the opportunity to visit numerous banks — including the Federal Reserve Bank — to see how they operate. Students will also have the chance to interact with banking professionals and alumni.

In order to sustain this program, the Rawls College of Business has established a target endowment level of $10 million that will support scholarships, program activities, faculty and a program director. It is incumbent on the industry to do everything it can to support this program to ensure that our banking industry continues to grow in a way that it meets the needs of all customers, regardless of their geographic locations.

We’ve seen the success the Free Market Institute at Texas Tech has had in not only promoting business and the free market, but also raising the stature of Texas Tech University. I have no doubt the Excellence in Banking Program can do the same for both the university and the Rawls College of Business.

The establishment of the Excellence in Banking Program is just another example of how Texas Tech continually steps up to the plate when there is an industry need, no matter what it might be. This program will further the university’s reach, not only throughout West Texas, but across the country and around the world.