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UTPA receives Big Read Grant from The National Endowment For The Arts
By Office of University Relations
381-2741
Posted: 09/17/2009
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The University of Texas-Pan American has been awarded a $19,965 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to host The Big Read, a nationwide initiative to restore reading to the center of American life. UTPA was one of 268 organizations that received the grant and will partner with the Dustin Michael Sekula Memorial Library in Edinburg to host Big Read activities Valleywide. This is the second funded grant UTPA has received from the NEA to host The Big Read. Last year UTPA received funds to host a Big Read for Rudolfo Anaya’s novel Bless Me, Ultima.


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Shown at the orientation for Big Read grant recipients held this summer in Minneapolis, MN , are, from left Tony Casas, UTPA special projects coordinator, College of Health Sciences and Human Services and College of Arts and Humanities; Tim O’Brien, keynote speaker and author of acclaimed novel The Things They Carried, and Dr. Steven Schneider, UTPA English professor and director of New Programs and Special Projects in the College of Arts and Humanities.

This year’s Big Read book selection is titled, Sun, Stone and Shadows edited by Jorge F. Hernandez. This anthology presents a superb selection of the finest Mexican short stories ever written. Authors include Juan Rulfo, Octavio Paz, Rosario Castellanos, and Carlos Fuentes.

"This year’s Big Read grant will allow us to do some creative programming on both sides of the border. We are planning community book discussions of Sun, Stone and Shadows in Reynosa and in San Miguel de Allende, México. The grant will also enable us to highlight the importance of reading through a variety of creative programs at UTPA, local libraries and in the public schools in the Rio Grande Valley," said Dr. Steven Schneider, UTPA English professor and director of New Programs and Special Projects in the College of Arts and Humanities. Schneider wrote the successful grant application and serves as the Big Read’s principal investigator and project director.

According to the Big Read Web site, “There is perhaps no better way for two nations to learn about one another than through sharing their stories. Sun, Stone, and Shadows presents a superb selection of the finest Mexican short stories of the 20th century. No one can read this arresting volume without experiencing the wonder and surprise of discovery.”

Schneider said The Big Read will also work with the South Texas Literacy Coalition, an advocacy group made up of representatives from local and national non-profit literacy groups and organizations, UTPA, South Texas College and Region One Education Service Center. The largest reading program in the United States, The Big Read gives communities the opportunity to come together to read, discuss and celebrate one of 30 selections from American and world literature. The grant provides community-based programs featuring activities such as read-a-thons, book discussions, lectures, movie screenings and performing arts events. Participating communities also receive high-quality free-of-charge educational materials to supplement the book chosen for their community, including reader’s guides (in English and Spanish), teacher’s guides, and audio introductions to the book as well as a comprehensive Web site.

The Big Read is an initiative of the NEA designed to restore reading to the center of American culture. To date, the NEA has given more than 700 grants to support The Big Read projects. The NEA presents The Big Read in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and in cooperation with Arts Midwest.

For more information on The Big Read, visit www.neabigread.org.

For more information on the UTPA Big Read grant, contact Schneider at 956/380-8775 or via e-mail at schneiders@utpa.edu.

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