V. Lane Rawlins has made deep and impactful contributions to Washington State University in many capacities and at the highest levels of service. He began his academic career at WSU as an assistant professor in economics in 1968, prior to completing his Ph.D. in Economics at the University of California at Berkeley in 1969. Rawlins’ academic focus was labor economics and much of his research work focused on the effects of education on earnings. He quickly rose through the ranks and served as the chair of the economics department (1977 to 1981) and was WSU’s vice provost (1982-1986). In 1986, he left WSU to serve as Vice Chancellor at the University of Alabama system (1986-1991) and then was appointed President of the University of Memphis (1991 to 2000).
Rawlins returned to WSU as its ninth President, serving from 2000 to 2007. In this capacity, he led in the creation of a strategic plan that guided the university’s drive for educational and research excellence. Under his leadership, WSU was designated a top-tier research university and substantially grew its extramural research funding. His leadership at WSU also resulted in increased enrollment of academically talented students, a more diverse student body, a stronger statewide presence; while still supporting the varying needs of its multiple campus locations.
Following President Rawlins’ retirement as WSU President, he served as a faculty member in the School of Economic Sciences, and from 2007 to 2009 as the interim director of the William D. Ruckelshaus Center for Conflict Resolution, a joint program of WSU and the University of Washington. He then answered the call to serve as the 15th President of the University of North Texas (2010 to 2014). In his third public university presidency, he continued his track record of impactful success in elevating the quality and image of the universities he serves. Throughout his career, he focused on maintaining strong connections between world-class research and top-quality undergraduate and graduate education. His ultimate commitment was to foster excellence in public higher education because of its power to transform individuals, regions, states and nations.
President Rawlins is a native of southeast Idaho. He married his wife, Mary Jo during his undergraduate studies. He graduated from Brigham Young University in 1963. At BYU, Rawlins was encouraged to continue his education at the doctoral level. Being a married father, navigating the transition to graduate school was a challenge, but as always, Rawlins was successful. Lane and Mary Jo have three children, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
The Rawlins’ family established this award to assist an outstanding undergraduate senior in the School of Economic Sciences (SES) during the year the student is applying to graduate school. The overarching purpose of the award is to support the transition of an outstanding SES student to graduate study.
The principal of this Fund shall be awarded to an outstanding undergraduate senior in the School of Economic Sciences, during the year the student is applying to graduate school, with the contingency that the student does attend a graduate program with the intention of ultimately seeking the PhD degree in a field of economics. The award is intended to assist the student in his/her transition to graduate school.