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March 2001

Release Date: March 7, 2001

Noted Writer/Environmentalist to Give Chase Lecture in Humanities

Rick Bass, a Texas-born nature writer and environmentalist whose desire for wilderness drew him to northwest Montana’s Yaak Valley which he now calls home, will present Angelo State University’s 14th Annual Ralph R. Chase Lectureship in the Humanities March 26-27.

Bass’s insight into the natural world, as expressed in both his nature essays and his fiction, has made him one of the most anthologized American authors in the field of nature writing. His passion for nature in its purest form has spawned his environmental activism to save the land and its creatures from the encroachment of civilization.

During his ASU visit, Bass will give two public lectures. He will speak at 2 p.m. Monday, March 26, on “Landscape and Imagination” and at 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 27, on “Ghost Towns and Ghost Landscapes.” Both lectures will be in the C.J. Davidson Conference Center in the Houston Harte University Center on the ASU campus.

The Chase Lectureship, sponsored by the San Angelo Health Foundation and San Angelo Community Medical Center, brings to campus and the community distinguished speakers whose works have elevated the human spirit and consciousness on both the national and international level. Named for longtime San Angelo Pediatrician Dr. Ralph R. Chase, the lectureship has showcased speakers such as Larry McMurtry, Margaret Thatcher, Shelby Foote, Warren B. Rudman and Sergei N. Khrushchev.

This year’s speaker was born in Fort Worth and grew up in Houston. He began his education studying wildlife science at Utah State University, but finished with a degree in geology. Bass began work in 1980 as an oil and gas geologist in Mississippi. Three books reflect his early years: The Deer Pasture, a collection of essays about hunting in the Texas Hill Country; Wild to the Heart, a collection of essays about traveling to wilderness areas; and Oil Notes, a memoir of his years spent as a geologist.

Bass moved to northwest Montana’s Yaak Valley in 1987 to become a full-time writer. His first book of fiction was The Watch, a collection of short stories that appeared in 1989. He soon became an environmental activist, interested in saving the growing list of threatened, endangered, and sensitive species, such as wolves and grizzly bears, and in protecting the last unprotected roadless lands in the national forests. He also supported reform of forest management practices, encouraging restoration of ailing lands and more sustainable extraction methods, where possible.

He has published two collections of novellas, Platte River and The Sky, The Stars, The Wilderness; another story collection, In the Loyal Mountains; and a novel, Where the Sea Used to Be. Other essay collections include Winter: Notes From Montana, The Lost Grizzlies, The Ninemile Wolves, The Book of Yaak, The New Wolves, Fiber, Brown Dog of the Yaak: Essays on Art and Activism, and Colter: The True Story of the Best Dog I Ever Had. In the fall, Houghton Mifflin will publish another story collection, The Hermit’s Story.

In addition to his writing, Bass has taught creative writing at the University of Montana, the University of Texas and Beloit College. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Lyndhurst Foundation and the Mississippi Arts Council. He was awarded the Texas Institute of Letters Brazos Bookstore Short Story Award and given a special citation from the PEN/Nelson Algren award.

He is married to the artist Elizabeth Hughes Bass. They have two daughters, Mary Katherine and Lowry.

The goal of the lectureship is to provide a stimulating and intellectually challenging forum for the exchange of thoughts and for discussion with ASU students and with residents of the San Angelo area.

The selection committee is comprised of members of the San Angelo Health Foundation Board of Trustees and the ASU faculty. Members of the 2000-01 selection committee are: Mary Ellen Hartje, Ph.D., chair; Ralph R. Chase, M.D.; Arnoldo De León, Ph.D.; Jack Barbour, Ph.D.; John Vinklarek; J. Mark McLaughlin; Joe Wilkinson, M.D.; and Steve Stephens.