Monthly News Archives: July 2017

Statement from Dr. Bill Ellis, HPU president, on recent accreditation action

On June 21, 2017, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) placed HPU on Warning status for 12 months, based on concerns arising from HPU’s efforts to launch a pre-licensure nursing program. While we take the SACSCOC action seriously, recent media reports have generated some concern, and I am taking this opportunity to share more details and address specific issues.

What is the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges?
SACSCOC is one of six regional accrediting bodies in the United States. These organizations accredit the entire operation of colleges and universities, not individual majors or academic programs within colleges or universities. Membership in SACSCOC is voluntary and compliance with all regulations is verified through a peer-review process. The Board of Trustees of SACSCOC is comprised predominantly of college and university presidents. Howard Payne University was first accredited by SACSCOC on January 1, 1948, and has remained so ever since, with most recent reaffirmation of accreditation in December 2014.

How close is HPU to losing accreditation?
We are confident that we will be able to maintain our accreditation and are taking the necessary steps to ensure our standing with SACSCOC. Although any of the regional accrediting bodies may remove an institution from its membership at any time for serious noncompliance with the accreditor’s rules and regulations, the normal process by which SACSCOC would remove an institution from membership would be following a monitoring period of 12, 24 or even 36 months. During such time, an institution could be on Warning, Probation or Continued for Good Cause. Following a review of the post-licensure nursing program in September 2016, during its regular board meeting in June 2017 SACSCOC placed HPU on Warning for 12 months and requested the university clarify specific issues that occurred during the recent attempt to introduce a pre-licensure nursing program.

SACSCOC’s Public Disclosure Statement regarding HPU is available at

Information about SACSCOC’s Sanction Policy is available at

What is the status of students’ accumulated coursework?
Howard Payne University is accredited by SACSCOC to award degrees at the associate, baccalaureate and master levels. Accordingly, all academic credit earned is recognized as having this status.

What does this mean for our new and returning students moving forward?
HPU remains accredited. Classes will commence on August 21 as planned.

What are the next steps?
HPU has already begun addressing the concerns of SACSCOC. A thorough narrative will be drafted that includes evidence that documents the university’s assertion of ongoing compliance. This report will be forwarded to a visiting committee that will review the specific nursing issues stated in SACSCOC’s notification letter on-site prior to April 2018.

What are the future plans for HPU’s nursing program?
HPU has employed a new dean of nursing who is preparing a new proposal to the Texas Board of Nursing (TBON) for a pre-licensure nursing program. The university looks forward to meeting all the requirements of the TBON in this process.

Integrity and rigorous academic standards have been hallmarks of HPU’s identity since its founding in 1889 and will continue to be as the university moves forward. Recognition of HPU’s academic credibility is vital to the health of our institution, and we remain committed as always to ensuring the university’s good standing. We will continue to cooperate fully with SACSCOC and I am confident we will address the organization’s concerns well before the April site visit.

Thank you for your continued commitment to Howard Payne University. I join with you in looking forward to a positive, healthy 2017-2018 academic year and beyond.

Dr. Bill Ellis

(Posted July 27, 2017; updated July 28, 2017)

HPU named Best Local College, finalist for Best Place to Work

BROWNWOOD – July 21, 2017 – Howard Payne University was recognized as Best Local College during the Brownwood Bulletin’s recent Best of Brown County awards celebration. HPU was also named a finalist in the Best Place to Work category.

Area citizens were invited to vote in more than 130 categories in the weeks leading up to the celebration.

“We’re extremely honored to be named Best Local College,” said Dr. Bill Ellis, HPU president. “I’m also appreciative for HPU to be named a finalist in the Best Place to Work category. I attribute that to our terrific faculty and staff who have created a welcoming atmosphere for our students as well as our new employees. We’re proud to have been a part of the Brownwood community for the past 128 years and thankful to live and serve alongside the wonderful men and women of Brown County.”

Applications are still being accepted for the fall 2017 and spring 2018 semesters at Howard Payne University. HPU offers a variety of financial aid options including the Heart of Texas Scholarship, which awards $60,000 to students from Brown County and surrounding counties. For more information about HPU, contact HPU’s Office of Admission at 325-649-8020 or by e-mail at


HPU Moot Court students receive additional awards for spring semester

BROWNWOOD – July 21, 2017 – Six Howard Payne University students were among an elite group to receive year-end awards from the Texas Undergraduate Moot Court Association. Five HPU students made the list of TUMCA’s 2017 Top 20 Orators while two HPU teams were among the five best teams in the state.

Receiving orator awards were Isaac Sommers, senior from Boerne, second place; Jordan Hahn, freshman from Burnet, eighth place; Jakob Morgan, senior from Blanket, 13th place; Bailey Myler, sophomore from Brownwood, 14th place; and Rebeca Puente, May 2017 graduate from Waskom, 20th place. Puente and Sommers were named the fourth-best team in the state and Hahn and Andie McCoy, sophomore from Whitehouse, were named the fifth-best team.

The awards were announced following HPU’s stellar Moot Court season. Among the top designations for HPU Moot Court this year, Sommers was named the fifth overall speaker out of 786 competitors at the American Moot Court Association Invitational National Championships held in January at Florida’s Stetson College of Law. Additionally, Sommers and Puente advanced to out-rounds, placing in the top 16 of 80 teams. For written arguments submitted prior to that tournament, Myler and Justin Harris, senior from Fort Worth, placed sixth and Puente and Sommers placed seventh. Puente and Sommers were additionally the champions at the Southern Methodist University tournament in March, and three of HPU’s five teams were among the top 10.

“For years, HPU Moot Court students have proven themselves to be the best in the state,” said Dr. Matthew McNiece, chair and professor of history and government and director of HPU’s Guy D. Newman Honors Academy.

Dr. McNiece expressed his appreciation to the students and to the team’s adviser, Lorianna Kelley, assistant professor of government.

“Professor Kelley is a wonderful coach and mentor to our Moot Court students,” he said. “I’m extremely proud of what they accomplished this year and in the past several years. I look forward to what’s to come.”


HPU group serves in Slovakia

HPU group in Slovakia 2017 BROWNWOOD – July 20, 2017 – Nine Howard Payne University students traveled to Slovakia at the beginning of the summer for a short-term mission immersion experience. Travelers included students in Dr. Melody Maxwell’s International Missions Practicum course as well as students involved with HPU’s Baptist Student Ministry. The group was accompanied by Dr. Maxwell and Keith Platte, BSM director.

The HPU team led ministry activities among the Roma and Slovak people and learned from Shane and Dianne McNary, field personnel with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

“It was our privilege and joy to be able to interact with such a dynamic and talented group of young scholars,” wrote the McNarys in an e-mail newsletter following the trip.

Dr. Maxwell’s class prepared for the trip the semester prior by studying short-term missions along with the history and culture of the area and the Roma people.

“The Roma are a people group in Europe who are often marginalized and frequently live in poverty,” said Dr. Maxwell. “We were blessed with the opportunity to briefly serve among the Roma alongside the McNarys.”

Among other activities, the group taught English at a public school in Važec and hosted a Bible school for Roma children in partnership with Jekh Drom, a local non-profit. They also connected with Word for the World – Slovakia, a group of people translating the Bible into a local Roma dialect, and the Slovak Bible Society who has partnered with the group in publishing and distributing the Bibles.

“This trip specifically taught me about the importance of having cross-cultural knowledge and how that shapes our presentation of the Gospel,” said Zoe Emley, junior from Natalia. “This trip was one where I felt that I gained an overwhelming amount of great information about Slovak and Roma culture and the culture of short-term missions.”

Before departing from Europe, the team traveled to Poland where they visited the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum, Schindler Museum and the Polish Roma Association Museum.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that what we did as tourists directly related to who we had been working with while we were on mission,” said Kara Strange, May 2017 graduate from Fredericksburg. “Our tourism was not without a purpose.”

Tara Carroll, junior from McKinney, said the trip taught her that God speaks to everyone differently.

“God transcends human limitations and can transcend cultural differences as well,” she said. “The Gospel is multifaceted and can to speak to everyone in many ways. God has used the McNarys to do beautiful work in Slovakia and with the Roma people. We were able to come alongside this work with them for a short time. They will continue to do this Gospel work long after we are gone.”

In addition to Emley, Strange and Carroll, those on the trip included Daniel Harris, May 2017 graduate from Boerne; Kindell Hill, junior from Jarrell; Tom Kyle, May 2017 graduate from Salado; Anthony McCarson, May 2017 graduate from San Angelo; Erin McCleer, junior from San Angeolo; and Caitlin Vincent, junior from Brownwood.


Cutline: A group from HPU completed a short-term mission immersion experience in Slovakia at the beginning of the summer. They are pictured at the High Tatra Mountains as they traveled from Slovakia to Poland. Left to right: Caitlin Vincent, Kara Strange, Kindell Hill, Keith Platte, Erin McCleer, Tom Kyle, Zoe Emley, Anthony McCarson, Tara Carroll, Daniel Harris and Dr. Melody Maxwell.

HPU’s Guy D. Newman Honors Academy broadens students’ horizons

Spencer and McNiece for webBROWNWOOD – July 6, 2017 – Throughout its more than 50-year history, students in Howard Payne University’s Guy D. Newman Honors Academy have been challenged by and edified through a wide array of opportunities.

As HPU’s multidisciplinary honors program, the Academy emphasizes instruction in public policy and civic engagement. Formerly the Douglas MacArthur Academy of Freedom, the Academy was founded in 1962 under the leadership of Dr. Newman, who served as president of the university from 1955 to 1973.

A limited number of students are accepted into the Academy each semester which helps strengthen the bond among the faculty and students.

“We try to emphasize fellowship with students and faculty beyond typical classroom interactions,” said Dr. Matthew McNiece ’03, Academy director and chair and associate professor of history and government.

During the 2016-2017 academic year, the Academy faculty and students hosted a variety of events including the academic presentation of the documentary “Tickling Giants” and watch parties for the presidential debates and election coverage. Academy majors were also among the HPU students who participated in state and national competitions through Moot Court and Mock Trial. Additionally, the Student Speaker Bureau speech and debate team and the Model United Nations team traveled to London and Milan, respectively.

Frequent banquets and meetings allow Academy students to interact with alumni from the program and members of the Academy’s Board of Directors. Students working on their Academy theses also entertain questions from the Board of Directors in preparation of the oral defense before faculty.

“The more we can do to add to their undergraduate experiences in and out of the classroom, the better prepared they’ll be for the kinds of things they’ll face in the ‘real world,’” said Dr. McNiece.

Sydney Spencer of Georgetown graduated Magna Cum Laude from HPU in May 2017 with majors in the Academy, social work and social science (global studies).

“The experiences the Academy offered me through numerous experiential learning opportunities, one-on-one meetings with professors and the thesis curriculum allowed me to grow as a leader and enhance my knowledge of civic policy and its application on both a national and global level,” she said. “As a recent graduate of the program, I feel confident that the Academy and its professors have prepared me to be successful in future job interviews and master’s degree programs.”

Three Academy faculty members, including Dr. McNiece, are graduates from the program.

“Coming back to teach in the Academy says our experiences here were good and valuable, but it’s also our way of giving back,” he said. “The program emphasizes civic engagement and this is one of the ways we demonstrate that.”

The Academy offers several scholarships each year including a maximum of five full-tuition scholarships. Additional scholarship and academic opportunities are offered for junior-level Academy students through the Hatton W. Sumners Foundation.

For more information about the Academy, visit To learn more about enrolling at Howard Payne University, visit or call 325-649-8020.


Cutline: Sydney Spencer, a student in HPU’s Guy D. Newman Honors Academy, graduated in May 2017. She is pictured with Dr. Matthew McNiece, Academy director and chair and associate professor of history and government.

Registration deadline nearing for HPU’s Summer Scholars and Young Scholars camps

operation_innovationBROWNWOOD – July 6, 2017 – There is still time to register for the Summer Scholars and Young Scholars day camps at Howard Payne University. The camps are scheduled July 17-21 from 9 a.m. to noon each day, and those who register by July 10 will receive a free t-shirt. Registration ends July 14.

The programs, featuring instruction in a variety of subjects including robotics and 3D printing, are open to all students in first through sixth grades.

In the Summer Scholars program, students entering fourth through sixth grades will study robotics, 3D printing, science and recreation. The Young Scholars program is designed for children entering first through third grades and the campers will receive instruction in robotics, science and recreation.

“Summer Scholars will be making fidget spinners in 3D printing and will spend more time learning to program the robots in the robotics class,” said Dr. Julie Welker, director of the programs, professor of communication and chair of HPU’s Department of Communication Studies. “Young Scholars students will also spend more time doing robotics and science activities as well.”

Dr. Welker said she has extended class times this year to allow students more hands-on time in the academic areas.

“Our theme this year is ‘Operation Innovation,’ and we want to teach our students that innovation takes time and patience,” she said. “We are providing opportunities for our students to create their own programs and be innovative, all in a fun learning environment.”

Returning as instructors this summer are Estevan Arbaiza, head men’s soccer coach at HPU, who will lead recreation for both camps; Tami Hull, science teacher and robotics coach at Early Middle School, who will teach robotics for Summer Scholars; Dr. Kristen Hutchins, assistant professor of biology at HPU, who will teach science for Young Scholars; Keith Taylor, robotics coach at Early Elementary School, who will teach robotics for Young Scholars; and Dr. Lester Towell, professor and chair of HPU’s Department of Computer Information Systems, who will teach 3D printing for Summer Scholars.

The camps will be held in HPU’s Winebrenner Memorial Hall of Science. Program participants will also have supervised access to HPU’s wellness center, climbing wall and other campus locations.

Cost for the Summer Scholars and Young Scholars programs is $100 per student and includes a souvenir, snacks and supplies.

Online registration is available at For more information about the Summer Scholars and Young Scholars programs, contact Dr. Welker at 325-649-8508 or via e-mail at


Cutline: The theme for HPU’s 2017 Summer Scholars and Young Scholars day camps is “Operation Innovation.”