The Father John Oetgen Scholarship Program 


Father John earned degrees from Belmont Abbey College, Saint Benedict’s College, Atchison, KS, the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome. He also pursued further studies at Oxford University and the University of North Carolina. He filled important posts in both the monastery and college at Belmont Abbey. He was a Professor of English and Director of the Abbey Players, and served as President of Belmont Abbey College from 1960 to 1964. He was awarded an honorary doctoral degree by Belmont Abbey College in 2006. Generations of Abbey Players were directed by Father John in plays ranging from Shakespeare to Agatha Christie. After his retirement as Director in 1976, he continued his support for the Abbey Players until his death. Seat I-22 in the Haid Theatre, his invariable choice, is affectionately referred to as “Father John’s chair” to this day. We are confident that he intercedes for the Abbey Players in heaven, not simply for our artistic endeavors, but out of the real warmth and concern that was his inevitable response to all student actors or technicians, or indeed any at the College he so fervently loved.


The purpose of the Oetgen Scholarship is to provide Theatre Arts or Dance Minor students the opportunity of financial assistance. Father John Oetgen, O.S.B Scholarship for Excellence in Theatre and the Performing Arts was created by President William Thierfelder in 2005 to honor the achievements of Father John, O.S.B. (1924-2009). He entered Belmont Abbey in 1944, and was ordained a priest in 1951. The Oetgen Scholarship is available in order to continue Father John’s legacy with current Belmont Abbey students and their passion for Theater and Dance.

The Oetgen Scholarship provides up to $5500 annually to each student accepted into the program. Directed by Simon Donoghue, students in this program will receive guidance and practical experience.


A commitment to theatre, either as a performer or technician. The Oetgen program is a four-year educational and social experience designed to encourage and strengthen students who have an interest in theatre or dance.

Several previous Oetgen Scholars have been admitted to M.F.A. programs at prestigious graduate institutions across the United States based upon their undergraduate work with the Abbey Players, despite the lack of a major degree in Theatre. However, most students use their time as an Oetgen Scholar to enhance their intellects, skills and talents in ways that add to their individual majors.


Interested applicants must apply for the program after receiving acceptance from Belmont Abbey College. To receive preferential consideration candidates should take advantage of our Early Action program. Those accepted to the college prior to November 1st will have a greater opportunity for a larger scholarship. 

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Simon J. Donoghue

Theatre Program Director:

Simon Donoghue

Kristin Hayes

Dance Program Director:

Kristin Hayes

Aidan Williams

Admissions Representative:

Aidan Williams

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