Ohio Wesleyan University is expanding its Dr. Charles Thomas Scholarship program to help meet the full financial need of eligible low-income students. OWU will offer at least 20 Charles Thomas Scholarships this fall to new students who apply to the university and for the scholarship by March 21.

The Dr. Charles Thomas Scholarship program was created in 2020 to honor one of the first Black students ever to play college baseball. Thomas’s experience and grace as an Ohio Wesleyan athlete in the early 1900s inspired then-head baseball coach Branch Rickey to collaborate with Jackie Robinson in the 1940s to break Major League Baseball’s color barrier.

“Charles Thomas was resilient, determined, and successful, ultimately becoming a doctor of dental surgery,” said Stefanie Niles, Ed.D. vice president for enrollment and communications. “Today, we want to help a new generation of students achieve their goals. Expanding our Dr. Charles Thomas Scholarship is an important part of our efforts to increase opportunities for students to attend Ohio Wesleyan.”


For incoming students selected as Charles Thomas Scholars, Ohio Wesleyan will meet 100 percent of their demonstrated financial need during their four years at the university. Their need will be determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and be covered with merit- and need-based OWU grants, federal grants and loans, and work-study.

The Dr. Charles Thomas Scholarship also recognizes the work of Ohio Wesleyan’s community partners in helping the university to provide access and opportunity to promising students. Students should be affiliated with a college-access program, such as College Directions, I Know I Can, or One Goal.

Thomas spent his career as a dentist and remained a baseball enthusiast throughout his life. As a young man, he played for several “Negro baseball teams,” including the Columbus Black Tourists. He died in 1971 at age 91.

Ohio Wesleyan application information is available at owu.edu/apply. Information about the Dr. Charles Thomas Scholarship are available at owu.edu/CharlesThomasScholarship.

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