The couple whose compassionate adoption story is chronicled in blockbuster film “The Blind Side” will be the guest speakers for Baylor University’s “On Topic” lecture Tuesday.
Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, the adoptive parents of Super Bowl-winning offensive lineman Michael Oher, will sit down with Baylor President Ken Starr for the talk, which begins at 7 p.m. in Waco Hall on campus.
The free public event will serve as the conclusion of the annual meeting of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, which is being held Sunday through Tuesday in Waco. The theme of the conference is “Live the Difference.”
“We were looking for a guest speaker who embodied the ideas of faith in action and serving those in need in the local community,” Baylor spokeswoman Lori Fogleman said. “The Tuohys are deeply committed Christians; they have an amazing message to share that really fits that theme.”
The 2009 film chronicles the Tuohys’ adoption of the then-homeless and academically struggling Oher, who went on to become a first-round draft pick for the Baltimore Ravens, winning a Super Bowl with the team in 2013.
Sandra Bullock won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Leigh Anne Tuohy in the movie.
Starr started the “On Topic” series shortly after beginning his tenure as president in 2010. Past speakers have included for U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, business tycoon T. Boone Pickens, Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz, and journalist and political commentator Juan Williams.
Fogleman said while the past speakers have primarily had backgrounds in politics or academia, drawing on Starr’s contacts from his law and teaching career before coming to Baylor, the university worked jointly with the BGCT to select a speaker who would appeal to the 2,000 church delegates and members in town for the annual meeting.
Fogleman said she expects the event to focus more on faith, Christian family values and social service, compared to the more policy-focused tenor of previous “On Topic” lectures.
“I think we’re committed to pursuing ‘On Topic’ guests who can talk about all kinds of topics and add to the conversation on our campus and in our city,” Fogleman said. “We also take recommendations from people on who would they like to have visit Baylor and Waco, and I think that’s why we’ve seen such a range in speakers so far.”
In addition to the lecture, faculty members from Baylor’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary are expected to be involved in workshops during the three-day convention, said Mark Newton, the university’s director of church engagement.
Kathy Hillman, associate professor and director of special collections at the Baylor libraries, is one of two nominees for president of the BGCT, which will be voted on during the convention meeting.
Newton said Baylor is currently in talks to host future BGCT annual meetings, specifically eyeing 2016 and 2017. Baylor and the BGCT already have a close relationship, with the BGCT electing 25 percent of Baylor’s board of regents and annually providing scholarship funds to seminary students.
“We’re excited to welcome Texas Baptists to Waco and Baylor University,” Newton said.