Texas Tech University

Carl and Marilynn Thoma Announce Thoma Scholars Program for Rural Students

August 9, 2023

The partnership supports academic and leadership success for undergraduates at Texas Tech University.

Carl and Marilynn Thoma have partnered with Texas Tech University to launch the Thoma Scholars Program for rural students.  

This groundbreaking scholarship will provide higher education opportunities for rural students from the Oklahoma Panhandle, the Texas Panhandle and eastern New Mexico who have shown exceptional academic and leadership accomplishments. The dual goals of the program are four-year college completion and leadership success.  

Recipients of the Thoma Scholarship will receive a significant financial award designed to substantially mitigate student debt incurred while pursuing a four-year undergraduate degree. The scholarship covers tuition, fees, room and board, books, an international study abroad experience and other education-related expenses.  

Additionally, Thoma Scholars will receive comprehensive support from Texas Tech staff members devoted to the students. Recipients will have unique opportunities, including career-aspirations coaching, on-campus programming, leadership training and access to academic support and counseling.  

The Thoma Scholars Program initially will target approximately 20 Texas Tech University students. The first round of applications opens in the fall of 2023 for students graduating from rural high schools in the spring of 2024.

Core to the Thoma Scholars Program is the partnership with Texas Tech, as it is a cornerstone institution serving the Panhandle region with a strong record of success in the recruitment and retention of rural students.  

"As students from rural communities, Carl and Marilynn Thoma are uniquely positioned to understand the challenges these students face when pursuing a college degree," said Texas Tech President Lawrence Schovanec. "At Texas Tech, our focus has always been on providing access and opportunity. We are grateful for the Thomas' investment in Texas Tech and future Red Raiders. Their generosity and vision will ensure more students from rural communities earn a college degree." 

Carl and Marilynn trace their roots to the Panhandle region as early as 1888 and feel a strong affinity for its resilient people. Carl grew up in Union County, New Mexico, and Cimarron County, Oklahoma. Marilynn hails from Woodward County, Oklahoma. 

The motivation for creating the Thoma Scholars Program is tied closely to the determination and perseverance both Carl and Marilynn learned from their parents and grandparents, hard-working people who expected the best effort from their children and encouraged their success. 

“Students from rural areas face many obstacles to success in higher education,” Carl said. “The Thoma Scholars Program removes those barriers and invests in their success the way our parents did in ours. This program recognizes the integrity and grit of the people of the rural Panhandle region. We believe we are supporting the next generation of leaders.” 

Carl is a founder and managing partner of Thoma Bravo, a private equity firm with a focus on software and technology companies, and Marilynn had a successful marketing career at Quaker Oats. Recognized as leaders in the art community, the Thomas' foundation lends and exhibits artwork from their collection to museums, galleries and universities. They reside in Dallas.  

“Texas Tech University is a best-for-value college with a proven track record of launching career-ready graduates into the workforce,” Carl says. “Texas Tech's geographic proximity to the Thoma Scholars recruitment region was also critical to our launch plan. We hope many of these students will want to return to their communities after graduation, making this an investment not only in individual students but also in the future of the region.”  

For more information about eligibility for the Thoma Scholars Program and to apply, visit  the Thoma Scholars website.

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