WILBERFORCE, Ohio (AP) _ Wilberforce University has thanked Ray Charles for his $2 million gift, the largest ever to the private, historically black school that traces its roots to 1856.

``You are helping the young people of this university pursue their dreams, aspirations and goals. For that, we are truly grateful,'' Brandi Barnes, student representative on the university's board of trustees, said at a special convocation on Friday.

The donation, made last summer, established the Ray Charles Chair in Music and Arts and the Ray Charles Scholarship Endowment in Music and Arts. Each year beginning this spring, Wilberforce officials will select eight students to receive the renewable scholarships.

``It was what I had to do, and the reason I had to do it is too many people have been good to me,'' Charles said.