Published on September 24, 2014 by Mary Wimberley  

Samford University will host former First Lady of the United States Laura Bush when she speaks at the school on March 26, 2015.

Mrs. Bush will speak as part of the annual Tom and Marla Corts Distinguished Author Series presented by Samford’s Orlean Bullard Beeson School of Education.

A former teacher and librarian, Mrs. Bush will focus on literacy and the importance of teaching during the 7 p.m. talk in Wright Center. She will also participate in a question and answer session moderated by Samford president Andrew Westmoreland.

Her visit will begin a series of events to celebrate the centennial year of teacher education programs at Samford.

The former first lady is the ideal speaker to kick off the celebration, said Samford education dean Jeanie A. Box.

“Mrs. Bush’s continued involvement in education shows her passion for reading and literacy, and aligns with our mission to prepare teaches and leaders who will positively influence and shape society,” Box said.  “She is a prime example of someone who has done this and more.”

Mrs. Bush, who holds a bachelor’s degree in education from Southern Methodist University and a master’s degree in library science from the University of Texas at Austin, taught elementary grades in inner-city schools and was a public school librarian. She married George W. Bush in 1977.

As first lady of the U.S. from 2001 to 2009, she became a champion for key issues in the fields of education, health care and human rights.  She founded the Texas Book Festival and the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. Today, as chair of the Women’s Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas, Texas, she continues her work on global healthcare innovations, empowering women in emerging democracies, education reform and supporting American’s military veterans.

In her memoir, Spoken from the Heart, Mrs. Bush writes about joining one of America’s most prominent political families, life with her husband and twin daughters, and the post-9/11 period that transformed her role as first lady.

Tickets for the Samford event are $35 general admission, $75 reserved seat and $250 VIP admission. The VIP ticket includes a pre-lecture reception, special parking, reserved seating, a photo opportunity with the speaker and a signed copy of her book. Tickets will go on sale September 24 at tickets.Samford.edu or (205) 726-2853.

Special sponsorships are also available at $1,000, $2,500, $5,000 or $10,000 and above levels.

For VIP ticketing or sponsorship information, contact Della Fancher at (205) 726-4462 or dfancher@samford.edu. 

The distinguished author series was established in 2011 to honor the late Thomas Corts, who served as Samford president for 23 years, and his wife, Marla Corts, a former high school English teacher.  After his retirement from Samford in 2006, Corts served the George W. Bush administration as coordinator of The President’s Initiative to Expand Education and as coordinator of Basic Education in the Office of the Director of Foreign Assistance, U.S. State Department.

Proceeds from the lecture benefit the Samford education school, which will continue its 100-year anniversary celebration with a student-led birthday observance next spring and an alumni dinner next fall.

The dinner will honor 100 outstanding Samford education alumni with the inaugural Learning for Life Award. The nominating process will begin in January, 2015, and nominees may include graduates who pursued varied career paths.

A centennial planning committee has been formed to help with plans.  To become involved, contact Kathy Acton at (205) 726-4224 or kacton@samford.edu.