Yearly News Archives: 2012

HPU students serve in leadership roles with FCA

BROWNWOOD – August 14, 2012 – Two Howard Payne University students recently attended a summer camp sponsored by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Taylor Castleberry, a senior business administration major from Paradise, and Corbin Young, a 2010 graduate and current student in the youth ministry master’s program from Brownwood, attended the FCA Sports Camp 2012 held at Texas A&M University.

young_and_castleberry_for_webYoung is the Brownwood-area representative for the FCA and has an office located on the HPU campus. He serves 31 secondary schools in addition to his role at HPU.

More than 1,000 people attended the sports camp at Texas A&M, making it the largest FCA camp in the country this year. Athletes competed and trained in their selected sports of football, volleyball, basketball, baseball, soccer, softball and cross-country and were instructed by some of the best high school coaches across the state. According to Young, however, it was much more than just a sports camp.

“Athletes grew stronger in their sport and, even more importantly, in their faith and relationship with our Father in Heaven,” he said. “Hundreds of students were introduced to the love of Jesus and received Christ for the first time, while others repented and re-committed their lives to God.”

Castleberry served as a small-group huddle leader.

“While practices and training were a success, God used our time on the field and free time together to open the door for me to share the love of Christ with the students all week,” he said. “These kids came from every walk of life, but we were all brothers. Getting to serve them strengthened my faith and love for Christ. I went to bless those kids, but was blessed tenfold in return. I thank God for that week and for the power of FCA.”

For more information about the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, visit Young also blogs about the Brownwood-area FCA at


Photo cutline: Corbin Young, left, and Taylor Castleberry are back on the HPU campus after attending the FCA Sports Camp 2012 at Texas A&M University.

HPU dean publishes book on autism

BROWNWOOD – Aug. 7, 2012 – Though not a student or employee at Howard Payne University, Joel Tucker is widely recognized on campus. His father, Dr. Robert Tucker, serves as the dean of music and fine arts and extended education at HPU, and Joel is on campus often, visiting his father or stopping by Fambrough’s Grill and Eatery for a burger and Coke. Dr. Tucker recently wrote a book inspired by Joel, titled “Like a Crown: Adventures in Autism.”

like_a_crown_coverTucker’s book discusses the trials and joys of raising Joel, 22, autistic from birth. Tucker and his wife, Clairissa, have two other sons – Jacob, 25, and Jordan, 19.

A television reporter from Abilene was on campus recently to interview Dr. Tucker and Joel.

“My other children excelled academically, but Joel is gifted in his own way,” Tucker told the reporter. “Raising him was a different set of challenges, so that changed our family dynamic quite a bit.”

Dr. Tucker began chronicling his experiences, which eventually led to 49 chapters of anecdotes, advice, conversations with his son and more.

The chapters are of different lengths and can be read in any order. The book is intended for parents, educators, employers, community leaders and anyone else whose life might intersect with autism in some way.

Clairissa Tucker designed the book jacket, which features a photo of Joel when he was 14. The meaning of the title, “Like a Crown,” is revealed at the end of the book.rob_tucker

Dr. Tucker said that Joel does not fully grasp the concept of having a book written about him, but that his son did enjoy seeing himself on television.

Published by AuthorHouse, the book is available in paperback and hardcover as well as electronically, and can be purchased from Barnes and Noble,, and Apple iBooks.

“‘Like a Crown’ is a delightful addition to Dr. Tucker’s record of scholarly contributions,” said Dr. Mark Tew, provost and vice president of academic affairs. “In addition to this important work on autism, Dr. Tucker is a published composer, a sought-after music adjudicator and a frequent author in music education journals. I am proud of and appreciate his leadership as an educator, scholar and citizen.”

The Tuckers are available for workshops and presentations on Autism Spectrum Disorders. They hope their experiences will be beneficial to other families.

Writes Dr. Tucker, “We now recognize the blessing poured upon us in the form of this incredible boy – Joel. We did not deserve him, but he is ours just the same. For that we are lucky and thankful.”


Photo cutline: Dr. Robert Tucker, dean of music and fine arts and extended education at HPU, recently published his first book, “Like a Crown: Adventures in Autism.”

HPU students work to fulfill the Great Commission

BROWNWOOD – Aug. 1, 2012 – The Gospel of Matthew records some of the last words Jesus Christ spoke to His disciples while on earth. Matthew 28:19 says, “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”

go_now_groupFour Howard Payne University students, who served as close to home as Tennessee and as far away as Uganda, obeyed Christ’s Great Commission this summer through mission trips coordinated through the Baptist General Convention of Texas’ Go Now Missions and HPU’s Baptist Student Ministry.

The students – Marlie Austin, Kathryn Burns, Bianca Monge and Rebekah Steadman – first learned of the opportunities through a missions fair held on the HPU campus. They then went through a process called Discovery Weekend, in which they were interviewed in small groups by the Go Now Missions team. The weekend helped them focus on discovering what God is doing in their hearts and shed light on where He was leading them to serve.

They chose mission fields based on God’s calling and opportunities available through Go Now.

“Go Now has been a great way for our Howard Payne students to serve because they match, equip and send students to places that are in need and places that are well-suited for each student,” said Keith Platte, director of HPU’s BSM. “It’s not the places that are special, but the people these students encounter while they are there.”

Austin, a sophomore from Garland, spent her summer in Orlando, Fla., volunteering at a resort for terminally ill children and their families. She also shared the Gospel at local hotel pools through Vacation Bible School-like activities and working with children in area churches.

“Marlie is a great example of someone who serves even when the chips are down,” said Platte. “I know that she had a tough time with being away from home for the entire summer, but she has seen God show her so many things. Most recently, her team performed some skits at a local church with a small congregation. Afterward, four people received Jesus in their lives. I am so proud of Marlie for being such a great witness for Jesus Christ.”

Burns, a senior from Segiun, and Steadman, a sophomore from Fort Worth, were partnered with a Nashville church to help establish more churches in the area and minister to people of various backgrounds.

“Kathryn and Rebekah were specifically tasked with reaching out to people of a Kurdish Arabic background in Nashville,” said Platte. “They helped to build relationships with the people in the area, shared the Gospel of Jesus Christ and furthered the Kingdom. They worked with many refugees in the Nashville Metro area and built friendships with Buddhists, Muslims and many others of different faith backgrounds.”

Monge, a senior from Fort Worth, served in Uganda, where she lived in an orphanage and helped with the overall care of the children.

“I can think of no better ministry for Bianca,” said Platte. “She has a heart for people. While at Howard Payne, studying to be an elementary school teacher, she has also led our senior adult ministry. What a range of people to minister! I know that she will hold those Ugandan children in her heart and she was blessed to serve them.”

Platte shared a letter from Monge that summarized her experience in Uganda, as well as some of the experiences of the other missionaries serving this summer.

Monge wrote, “Within the two months I played several different roles for these children. I gently sat my “patients” down as I cleaned and bandaged their scraped knees and legs. I played the role of a chef as I helped prepare dinners for 25 people each night. I was a teacher when I prepared preschool activities to help the younger children learn their letters, or helped the older ones finish their homework.

“I was an artist when the kids marveled at my basic Play-Doh sculptures. I was a musician when I simply clapped my hands and sang silly made up songs to them. I was an athlete when I played ‘Duck Duck Goose’ and was never tagged. I was a washing machine when cleaning their clothes and a towel when they hugged me with their dirt-filled hands. I was a book when they wanted to be told a story and a pillow when they laid their heads on my shoulder to rest. I was a tree when they wanted to climb on my shoulders, arms and legs when playing outside. I was a student as they taught me daily how to have childlike faith and showed me what it looks like to have a joyous heart.”

Platte said the students gained more than they gave through their experiences.

“I am confident the things they will remember most will be the people they got to encounter and how God used them to help bring about the Kingdom of Heaven on earth,” he said. “They are taking the Great Commission seriously and I know that they will be changed individuals because of it.”


Photo cutline: Four HPU students served this summer through opportunities coordinated by Go Now Missions and HPU’s Baptist Student Ministry. They are, from left, Kathryn Burns, Marlie Austin, Bianca Monge and Rebekah Steadman.

HPU students on campus to rehearse for Scotland performances

BROWNWOOD – July 27, 2012 – A group of theatre students from Howard Payne University are on campus this week, rehearsing Grimaldi: King of the Clowns, which they will perform in August at the International Collegiate Theatre Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland.

grimaldi_rehearsal_for_webThe group will present the play for local audiences at the HPU Theatre on Sunday, July 29, at 2:30 p.m., and Monday, July 30, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 each and will be available at the door. Donations will also be accepted, and proceeds will go toward covering expenses for the trip.

For more information, call the School of Music and Fine Arts at (325) 649-8500.


Photo cutline: Rivers Shotwell, foreground, and (from left) Dorie Walton, Jarrod White and Jared Russell, rehearse a scene from Grimaldi: King of the Clowns.

HPU providing professional development for area teachers

BROWNWOOD – July 26, 2012 – Fifteen area science and math teachers, along with two elementary school principals, are on the Howard Payne University campus this summer participating in a three-week professional development experience.

“The teachers are learning and sharing many hands-on activities which integrate math and science and use technology,” said Dr. Pam Bryant, head of HPU’s Department of Physical Sciences.

pam_bryant_teaching_for_webBryant, along with Dr. Mike Rosato, dean of the School of Education, co-authored a grant proposal to the Teacher Quality Grants Program to integrate the Apple iPad 2 into the 5th grade classroom, along with in-depth studies of force, motion and energy for the teachers.

As part of the grant, each teacher receives an iPad 2, a stipend and many hands-on activities and iPad applications to take back to his or her classroom. According to Rosato, the teachers will be better equipped to integrate some of the latest technology in their respective classrooms, which research indicates increases student engagement and learning.

Activity leaders include Bryant; Dr. Gerry Clarkson, associate professor of physical science; Wendy Grooms, associate professor of mathematics; and Tonya Horner, associate professor of mathematics. These sessions will extend into monthly experiences for the participants during the fall and spring semester of the 2012-2013 academic year.

This summer experience for teachers is made possible by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s (THECB) Teacher Quality Grants Program, which provides funding to higher education institutions to promote improved instruction in mathematics and science for Texas school children by providing professional development for their teachers. According to the THECB website, the Teacher Quality Grants Program makes awards through a competitive review process, with the most highly ranked and recommended projects being selected for funding.

Participating schools are Bangs Middle School, Brookesmith Elementary, Brownwood Intermediate, Coleman Elementary, Comanche Middle School, Early Elementary, Goldthwaite Elementary, May Elementary, Richland Springs Elementary and Rising Star Elementary.


Photo cutline: Dr. Pam Bryant, standing, instructs a class of area middle school teachers as part of HPU’s participation with the Teacher Quality Grants Program.

HPU plans “bon voyage” performances and fundraisers for campus groups

BROWNWOOD – July 25, 2012 – After a whirlwind spring and summer filled with practices, performances and fundraisers, two Howard Payne University groups will leave for international appearances at the beginning of August. HPU’s Winds of Triumph musical ensemble will perform in conjunction with the London 2012 Olympic Games on August 3, 5, 6, 7 and 8. A group from HPU’s Department of Theatre will perform at the International Collegiate Theatre Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland, on August 6, 8, 9 and 11.

Local audiences will have a chance to support the groups before they leave. Grimaldi: King of the Clowns, the play the theatre group will perform in Scotland, will be presented at the HPU Theatre on Sunday, July 29, at 2:30 p.m., and Monday, July 30, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 each and available at the door. To reserve tickets in advance, call the School of Music and Fine Arts at (325) 649-8500. Donations will also be accepted.

A “bon voyage” concert featuring Winds of Triumph will be held on Tuesday, July 31, at 7 p.m., in HPU’s Mims Auditorium. There is no charge for admission, but donations will be accepted.

A send-off is planned for both groups on August 1 at HPU’s Davidson Music Complex parking lot off Center and Whaley streets. The public is invited to attend the gathering at 8 a.m. before the buses depart at 8:15 a.m.

Winds of Triumph

Winds of Triumph is one of only five university musical groups from the U.S. invited to perform in conjunction with the Olympics. The musicians will play in many locations around London, including Exhibition Road, Potters Fields Park, Olympic Park and more. They will also perform at the Arêne de Montmartre in Paris.

“As the time for departure draws near, we are more and more excited about taking our Good News in music and representing our Lord, HPU, Brown County and Texas in this world event,” said Stephen Goacher, professor of music and director of Winds of Triumph. “Learning that we will be performing at sites licensed for 30,000 people a day elevates this experience to an awesome opportunity and an awesome responsibility.”

Headed to London are Allen Andrus, a senior from Anson; Elizabeth Bates, a 2011 graduate from Austin; Christopher Burnett, a sophomore from Early; Mercedes Cardenas, a junior from Brownwood; Kimberly Collins, a senior from Bay City; Talitha Cook, a May graduate from Howe; Taylor Cook, a junior from Howe; Tyler Cooper, a senior from Brownwood; Megan Irwin, a sophomore from Brownwood; Tyler Matthews, a senior from Weatherford; Grant Newman, a senior from Springtown; Ethan Yeats, a sophomore from Big Spring; and Kyle Ziegler, a senior from Brownwood.


HPU is one of only 18 colleges and universities from the U.S. to perform at the International Collegiate Theatre Festival. ICTF is part of the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, which is the largest theatrical event in the world, hosting more than 500,000 people.

“To be invited to perform at the Fringe Festival is a huge honor,” said Dr. Nancy Jo Humfeld, head of the Department of Theatre. “This opportunity will allow our students to attend many different performances and make contacts from all over the world, as well as the incredible chance to perform on an international stage. We have already been contacted by an actor who is doing a performance that is of the same genre and it will be fun to compare our historical notes. We appreciate all the support we have had and look forward to this once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

Students going on the Scotland trip are Katelyn Bare, a sophomore from Quito, Ecuador; Colbie Crow, a freshman from Brownwood; Katherine Dobson, a junior from Rowlett; Audrey Harris, a junior from Early; Joshua Helms, a senior from Lindale; Tucker Hull, a junior from Brownwood; Jared Russell, a sophomore from Hillsboro; Rivers Shotwell, a senior from Grand Saline; Phoenix Solis, a junior from Brownwood; Alexandra Taliaferro, a sophomore from Springtown; Doris Walton, a freshman from Lolita; Meredith Underwood, a freshman from Brownwood, and Jarrod White, a junior from Ben Wheeler.

“We’re excited and pleased our students have these opportunities,” said Dr. Robert Tucker, dean of the School of Music and Fine Arts and extended education. “HPU will be well represented in Scotland and England.”


HPU sophomore to compete in world championship horse show

By Megan Haverlah, HPU senior

BROWNWOOD – July 24, 2012 – Howard Payne University offers many extracurricular activities such as athletics, cheerleading and student organizations, but Hope D’Alessio, a sophomore from Brownwood, doesn’t stop there. Hope has a passion for horses and is pursuing a horse show career at the national level.

hope_dalessio_for_webHope has been riding horses since she was a child, but she is the only person in her family who rides or competes in horse shows.

“I started riding when I was seven,” she said. “I went to a friend’s birthday party and we got pony rides and I’ve been hooked ever since. I remember thinking, ‘I have to do this. This is my calling in life.’”

Hope’s first horse was given to her by her grandfather. She now has eight horses. Chester is the main show horse Hope uses and Parker is her barrel horse.

She competes in two major shows and approximately 10-12 smaller shows annually. Hope enjoys participating in horsemanship, trail and showmanship. Showmanship is a pattern performed while leading a horse and horsemanship is a pattern performed while riding. According to Hope, trail is almost like an obstacle course.

Hope began by competing in the equivalent to 4-H and then, with the help of trainers, advanced to the state level.

“That started going really well and the next thing you know we were traveling all over the states,” said Hope. “It just started expanding and then I went to another trainer who has been known to produce world champion horses.”

Hope excelled at the Quarter Horse Congress, where she won the Amateur Equitation and Youth Horsemanship awards.

Winning the World Show is Hope’s next goal. To be eligible to participate, the American Quarter Horse Association will keep track of points earned throughout the year at different shows. When a competitor reaches a certain amount of points, he or she qualifies and a letter of invitation is sent to attend and compete in the World Show among the other qualifying horse riders.

Hope has already qualified for the world competition this year, which will be held in November in Oklahoma City at the state fair grounds.

“The Amateur World Show is a little more nerve-racking because it includes not just the top three to five riders in the state like the Youth World Show does,” said Hope. “It includes everyone who qualifies, but I’m excited!”

In addition to all of the training she has to do, and the out-of-state competitions in which she competes, Hope is pursuing a degree in communication.

“HPU has been really good at working with me,” said Hope. “Dr. Julie Welker (professor of communication) loves horses. I’ve gone to her house and ridden with her. She is definitely understanding of the fact that it’s not easy to have an extracurricular activity that the school doesn’t provide. You have to make your own schedule because you don’t have a team that helps out.”


Photo cutline: HPU sophomore Hope D’Alessio won the Amateur Equitation and Youth Horsemanship awards at the Quarter Horse Congress.

HPU alumnus among victims of Colorado tragedy

Gordon Cowden, a 1984 Howard Payne University graduate, was one of 12 killed in Friday’s shooting at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater.

Please remember his family and friends in your prayers.


Services for Gordon Cowden will be held Wednesday, July 25, at 11:00 a.m., at Pathways Church, 1595 Pearl St., Denver, Colo.

Mr. Cowden’s funeral will be at 11:00 a.m. this Friday, July 27, at Riverbend Church, 4214 N. Capital of Texas Highway, Austin, Texas.

HPU mourns loss of former dean

Dr. George Baker, former dean of Howard Payne University’s School of Music, passed away Sunday, July 22, after a lengthy illness.

He and his wife, Sara, who was an associate professor of music, retired from HPU in 1998. Along with Mrs. Baker, Dr. Baker served on the President’s Development Council at HPU.

A memorial service at HPU is being planned. Details will be released when arrangements are finalized.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be made to the George and Sara Baker Music Endowed Scholarship Fund at HPU.

Please remember Dr. Baker’s family and friends in your prayers during this time.

HPU professor featured as U.S. Mission Geneva’s Photo of the Week

BROWNWOOD – July 23, 2012 – Stephen Goacher, professor of music at Howard Payne University, was recently the subject of the U.S. Mission Geneva Photo of the Week. Goacher and other members of the Temple Jazz Orchestra represented the United States in concert at the Great Hall of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, at the U.N. “America Appreciation Day” celebration on July 5.

goacher_photo_of_the_week_for_webGoacher is shown playing an improvised solo on his American-made saxophone during a composition by Duke Ellington.

“In many ways the picture is a symbol of America,” he says. “Any man is free to express his own ideas in his own voice. Also, the improvisation points to the American necessity for invention. America is the land of invention, so I was inventing a new set of ideas to sustain the overall idea by Duke Ellington.”

Other recent subjects for the Photo of the Week have included Rev. Jesse Jackson and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

For more photos from the event, visit the U.S. Mission Geneva Flickr page at


Photo cutline: HPU’s Stephen Goacher was the subject of U.S. Mission Geneva’s Photo of the Week while performing at the U.N. “America Appreciation Day” celebration. Photo by Eric Bridiers.