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SWT to honor astronaut James Lovell and wife, Marilyn

Date of release: 02/12/99

SAN MARCOS, TEXAS — Southwest Texas State University will dedicate an academic center in its renowned Department of Geography and Planning in honor of astronaut James Lovell and his wife, Marilyn.

The dedication of the James and Marilyn Lovell Center for Environmental Geography and Hazards Research will take place Friday, Feb. 19, the day after Lovell is the first speaker in a series of public presentations at SWT commemorating the university‘s centennial. The Lovells will be honored during a special dinner on the SWT campus.

On Thursday, Feb. 18, James Lovell will speak at 7:30 p.m. at SWT‘s Evans Auditorium. The free lecture is titled A Successful Failure: The Flight of Apollo 13.

The James and Marilyn Lovell Center for Environmental Geography and Hazards Research will allow scholars and researchers resources to better understand the Earth‘s environment, analyze and find ways to reduce natural and technological hazards and work toward policy formulation on those issues.

The center’s activities will include convening and sponsoring conferences, publishing papers in international journals, serving as a clearing house of information on environmental geography and hazards issues, and offering research and office space and an in-house library to visiting scholars.

The center is housed within SWT’s Department of Geography and Planning. David Butler, a professor in the department, is the director of the center. The department has twice been recognized as having the best undergraduate program of its kind in the nation. It also offers master‘s degrees and the university‘s only two doctoral programs, in environmental geography and geographic education.

Lovell has traveled farther than any other living astronaut, logging more than 600 hours and 7 million miles in space. His most famous space flight was as commander of Apollo 13, a voyage portrayed in the popular movie of the same name, starring Tom Hanks as Lovell.

The Apollo 13 spacecraft was enroute to a lunar landing in 1970 when oxygen tanks exploded, threatenting the lives of Lovell and his crew, and forcing their early return to Earth.

Lovell’s address on Feb. 18 will be the keynote lecture in the first of SWT’s Chautauqua Series being held this spring on the university‘s campus.

The four-part lecture series is part of the university’s Centennial Celebration. It is named for the Chautauqua movement popular in the late 1800s. Chautauquas featured lectures, literary readings, concerts and other educational activities aimed at stimulating discussion among the local population. SWT’s landmark building, Old Main, is built on Chautauqua Hill, the site of many San Marcos Chautauquas before the university was founded in 1899.

Lovell’s speech will keynote a day-long Chautauqua devoted to The Future of the Planet. Subsequent Chautauquas this spring will deal with The Future of Media and Communication, The Future of Education and The Future of Technology.