Texas Lutheran University’s first Jessie S. and Jack Harold Upton Brown Cultural speaker of the school year is bringing both brains and brawn.
Known as the Academic Heisman, John Urschel, a former professional football player and mathematician, is coming to the Jackson Auditorium stage at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Weston Center for the Performing Arts.
“He was selected to come to campus because we felt that his story as a mathematician and a former NFL player for the Baltimore Ravens would really resonate with our students, faculty and staff,” said Ashlie Ford, TLU director of marketing and communications. “He is often referred to as the Academic Heisman, and he was also the recipient of the Campbell Award, which is given to the college football player showcasing the best combination of academic, community service and unfilled performance.”
Urschel was an offensive lineman at Penn State, where he earned a Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in Mathematics. The Baltimore Ravens drafted Urschel in 2014, and he played as an offensive guard/center until 2017, when he retired after three seasons.
He then opted to go to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to pursue his Ph.D. in mathematics, which he is expected to receive in 2020.
In May, Urschel released “Mind and Matter: A Life in Math and Football,” a book that talks about his double life as an athlete and scholar.
“At TLU, one-third of our students are also athletes and a lot of them are in STEM majors or pre-professional health programs or things like business or the masters in accounting program,” Ford said. “They can really relate to him, and they’re in pretty rigorous majors as well. So we just felt that he would be an awesome person to have on campus and talk about his journey in these two different areas.”
TLU invited Urschel with the help of the Jessie S. and Jack Harold Upton Brown Cultural Enrichment Endowment Fund.
The free event is open to the TLU campus and the surrounding community, Ford said.
“We would love for anybody in the community to come out and have the opportunity to listen to somebody like him,” she said. “We feel we are a part of the overall community. When we have speakers and events on campus, we want the community to come and participate. We want to be a resource and an opportunity for people in this area to come and listen to a lecture or attend a performance they may not otherwise have the opportunity to do so.”
For more information, visit www.tlu.edu/events .