Published on February 25, 2011 by Mary Wimberley  

Greg Mortenson, co-author of the New York Times bestseller Three Cups of Tea and a founder of Central Asia Institute and Pennies for Peace educational charity, will speak at Samford University Monday, April 11, as the inaugural speaker in the Thomas and Marla Corts Distinguished Author Series.

The 7 p.m. event in Wright Center Concert Hall will benefit Samford’s Orlean Bullard Beeson School of Education and Professional Studies. The author will hold a book signing after the lecture.

Mortenson has established or supports 171 schools in rural and often volatile regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan. They provide education to more than 68,000 children, including 54,000 girls, where few education opportunities existed before.

Three Cups of Tea (2006) has sold more than four million copies in 45 countries and has been a Times bestseller for more than 186 weeks. It is mandatory reading for all U.S. military commanders and Special Forces deploying to Afghanistan. In the book, Mortenson and journalist David Oliver Relin recount the journey that led Mortenson to successfully bring education and hope to remote communities in central Asia.

The book’s title comes from a Balti proverb: “The first time you share tea with a Balti, you are a stranger. The second time you take tea, you are an honored guest. The third time you share a cup of tea, you become family…” Mortenson’s latest book is Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books Not Bombs (2009).

The new lecture series honors the late Thomas Corts, who was president of Samford for 23 years, and his wife, Marla, who has supported a Christian school in Africa that bears her name for almost two decades.

General admission tickets are $22. Reserved tickets that include a 6 p.m. reception with the author are $72. All tickets include a $2 convenience fee. Group discounts are available.


Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.