Franklin Pierce Receives NEA Big Read Grant

June 9, 2016

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Franklin Pierce University has received a $9,500 Big Read grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Franklin Pierce is one of 77 organizations nationwide awarded a grant and one of only two in New Hampshire. A program of the National Endowment for the Arts, the NEA Big Read broadens people’s understanding of the world through the joy of reading. Franklin Pierce is the first university in New Hampshire to receive a Big Read grant, and the university will partner with the Ingalls Library in Rindge, NH and the Mariposa Museum in Peterborough, NH, for some events.

“The Big Read is a great opportunity for Franklin Pierce to connect with the Monadnock region,” said Dr. Donna Decker, the recipient of the grant and an English professor at the university. "The Big Read has a proven track record of getting people connected to reading and great literature, so this is a very special program and we’re so proud to be a part of it.”  Decker also pointed to the strong partnerships with the Ingalls Library in Rindge and the Mariposa museum in Peterborough. “We excited about our partners as I know they have terrific venues for Big Read events.”

The University will focus on novelist Willa Cather and her novel My Ántonia for their Big Read grant. Cather, who was born in Nebraska, became a fixture in the Monadnock region during the late summer of 1917, when she was invited by friends to stay with them in Jaffrey Center. She fell in love with the area and found the atmosphere congenial for writing. Over the years she completed large swaths of My Ántonia, Death Comes for the Archbishop, and Shadows on the Rock in Jaffrey, NH, and nearby Peterborough. She generally wrote in the mornings, and in the afternoons took long walks through the surrounding countryside and up Mt. Monadnock. Cather is buried in the town cemetery in Jaffrey Center, just east of Mt. Monadnock.

“Willa Cather was truly a gift to the Mondanock Region,” said Andrew H. Card, President of Franklin Pierce University. “We are honored to be able to celebrate Willa Cather and her writing in the shadow of Mt. Monadnock where she found so much of her inspiration.”

Managed by Arts Midwest, the NEA’s Big Read program offers grants to support innovative community reading programs designed around a single book. The Big Read is designed to support community-wide reading programs that encourage reading and participation by diverse audiences. Organizations selected to participate in the NEA Big Read receive a grant, access to online training resources, and educational and promotional materials designed to support widespread community involvement.

Franklin Pierce is planning a kickoff event in September and along with many other reading events—including one reading event planned for the top of Mt. Monadnock, as well as other reading events throughout the academic year.

For more information about the NEA Big Read, please visit




Franklin Pierce University is a regionally accredited university grounded in the liberal arts, with a focus on personal attention and high-quality instruction. The University consists of the College at Rindge and the College of Graduate & Professional Studies with locations in Arizona and throughout New Hampshire. Degrees are offered through the doctoral level. The institutional mission embraces an education that matters: one that achieves academic success through the integration of liberal arts and professional programs. Our community of educators and learners creates an environment that fosters intellectual curiosity and encourages experiential and applied learning. A Franklin Pierce experience enables each student to discover and fulfill his or her own unique potential. We prepare students to become confident, knowledgeable individuals and leaders of conscience.


Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the NEA supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the National Endowment for the Arts and the agency is celebrating this milestone with events and activities through September 2016. Go to to enjoy art stories from around the nation, peruse Facts & Figures, and check out the anniversary timeline. 


Arts Midwest promotes creativity, nurtures cultural leadership, and engages people in meaningful arts experiences, bringing vitality to Midwest communities and enriching people’s lives. Based in Minneapolis, Arts Midwest connects the arts to audiences throughout the nine-state region of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. One of six non-profit regional arts organizations in the United States, Arts Midwest’s history spans more than 25 years. For more information, please visit


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