Thomas Costello, Jr.

Thomas Costello teaches in the School of Communication Studies as visiting lecturer and faculty in residence.

Photo courtesy of: Costello

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Visiting faculty member establishes scholarship to support students active in social justice


Thomas Costello, Jr. has never stopped wanting to learn since discovering an interest in history and civil rights as an undergraduate in University College. He decided to pay that interest forward by establishing a scholarship for students with a similar interest. 

Costello earned his bachelor’s degree in general studies from OHIO in 1975. Before returning to OHIO as the Glidden Visiting Professor in 2013, he spent more than 30 years as a lawyer and advocate for civil rights in Michigan. He says he owes his career to an OHIO professor, someone with a zest for history and who encouraged him to seek more knowledge about the contemporary social issues related to it.

“Studying history sparked my learning. Learning about the past illuminates the present,” Costello said. “Professor Richard Doolen displayed a great love and passion for learning history—he set the standard for me. Every now and then, we as teachers, need to remember that we have the opportunity in a course to light a fire within a student to become a life-long learner.”

Costello is a visiting lecturer and faculty in residence at the School of Communication Studies. Costello and his wife, 2014 alumna Amelia Verdis, wanted to support a student who shares their combined passion for social justice. They established the Scholarship for Change, which will benefit a junior or senior in the School of Communication Studies who is from an underrepresented population and has an interest in social justice issues.

“It’s a scholarship that creates opportunity an underrepresented student may not have,” said Costello. “We wanted it to go to someone who wants to be an advocate for change—a student interested in studying justice issues, equity and the like within the school because that’s where my concentration is here.”

Costello has a track record for creating opportunities for students and the OHIO community. He served as chair of the Ohio University Diversity Alumni Advisory Board and also established the Costello Scholarship for Appalachian Students for student attending the Eastern Campus. He said the next logical step was to establish a scholarship within the School of Communication Studies to support another student’s learning experience at OHIO.  

“It was an evolution, from endowing a scholarship for Appalachian students to one that was communications studies based,” said Costello. “I hope this scholarship alleviates some stress in some student’s life by paying off some of their tuition, but (also) ultimately plants a seed in someone that wants to create change and continue to learn.”

Established in 1945 by OHIO President John C. Baker, The Ohio University Foundation is the fundraising unit responsible for raising, investing and disbursing funds in support of the OHIO educational mission. The Foundation is an institutionally related, non-profit, tax exempt, 501c(3) organization, and is the repository for all private gifts to the University through annual giving programs, capital and special campaigns, and planned or deferred gifts.