News Archives: Academics

HPU students advance to semifinals at national Moot Court tournament

By Emily Peisker, HPU junior

BROWNWOOD – January 22, 2015 – Howard Payne University students Isaac Sommers and Katie Rose Bonner advanced to the semifinals at the American Collegiate Moot Court Association national tournament held at Florida International University in Miami on January 16 and 17.

ACMA National Tournament for webFor the individual speaker awards, Sommers, a freshman from Boerne, placed third overall, while Bonner, a senior from Lytle, placed thirteenth overall. The awards were given to the top 30 speakers, with a total of 160 at this year’s competition.

Moot Court offers undergraduate students the opportunity to cultivate their understanding of law interpretation, analytical debate, jurisprudence and case precedents through Supreme Court argument simulation. Approximately 400 teams competed at 10 regional tournaments from October to November, allowing the top 20 to 25 percent to proceed to nationals.

For the first day of the tournament, each team competed in three rounds of competition. Two-judge panels evaluated the rounds, resulting with only six out of 80 teams winning all six judges’ ballots at the end of the day. Sommers and Bonner were one of those six teams, securing them a top position in the round of 32.

The final day of the tournament showed Sommers and Bonner defeating the College of Wooster and Texas A&M University to face the former national champions from Patrick Henry College. The HPU team worked through a challenging round of arguments and a tough panel of judges to beat the Patrick Henry team and advance to the final four.

In the final four round, Sommers and Bonner faced another Patrick Henry team and were narrowly defeated by a two-to-one decision from the three-judge panel.

For the first time, HPU also competed in the national Brief-Writing Competition, during which Sommers and Bonner were awarded the ninth best respondent brief from the 10 best submitted from each side of the argument (petitioner and respondent).

Professor Lorianna Kelley coaches the Moot Court students and traveled with them to the event. Dr. Justin D. Murphy serves as HPU’s Brand professor of history, dean of the School of Humanities and director of the Guy D. Newman Honors Academy.

“HPU has not advanced this far at the national tournament since Professor Kelley and Rob Welker were partners as students and won the championship more than a decade ago,” said Dr. Murphy. “HPU and the Academy are blessed to have students of the caliber of Katie and Isaac, and we are also blessed to have professors of the caliber of Professor Kelley.”


Photo cutline: Lorianna Kelley, center, coaches HPU Moot Court students including Katie Rose Bonner, left, and Isaac Sommers, right, who recently advanced to the semifinals at a national tournament.

HPU introduces scholarship for local law enforcement officers

BROWNWOOD – December 10, 2014 – Howard Payne University has now made college degrees more affordable for local law enforcement officers. HPU recently announced that officers who are currently certified by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement may receive scholarships to take criminal justice classes at no cost for tuition. The officer must be working toward his or her first bachelor’s degree, meet unconditional admission requirements, major in criminal justice and be actively practicing in the field of law enforcement.

The scholarship is available at the Brownwood campus as well as at HPU’s New Braunfels and El Paso extension centers.

Chief Mike Corley of the Brownwood Police Department has worked closely with the faculty and students in HPU’s criminal justice program.

“We have HPU students intern at the police department almost every semester,” he said. “HPU’s criminal justice program is strong and growing by leaps and bounds. The scholarship for law enforcement personnel sounds awesome. What could be better?”

Lynn Humeniuk serves as associate professor of criminal justice and sociology and as director of HPU’s criminal justice program.

“HPU has a unique opportunity for peace officers who serve in the Central Texas area to aid them with obtaining their bachelor’s degrees,” she said. “It seems only fitting that we extend this scholarship to those men and women who choose to protect and serve.”

HPU is now enrolling for the spring semester. To get started, contact the Office of Admission at (325) 649-8020 or

For more information about Howard Payne University, visit

HPU Moot Court team wins regionals, advances to nationals

By Jaclyn Bonner, HPU sophomore

BROWNWOOD – December 3, 2014 –Howard Payne University pre-law students once again brought the university to the spotlight with successes in Moot Court. For the second year in a row, HPU students won the Texas Undergraduate Moot Court Association (TUMCA) regional competition and advanced to the national American Collegiate Moot Court Association (ACMA) tournament.

Sommers and Bonner for webKatie Rose Bonner, a senior political science pre-law, history and Guy D. Newman Honors Academy major from Lytle, and Isaac Sommers, a freshman social sciences jurisprudence and Guy D. Newman Honors Academy major from Boerne, recently earned the title of TUMCA champions at the Texas A&M School of Law Moot Court Tournament in Fort Worth.

The team dominated with Sommers receiving the prestigious Top Overall Speaker award and Bonner following closely with recognition as third overall speaker. The team’s success gave them an automatic bid to the ACMA National Tournament to be held at Florida International University College of Law in January.

Freshmen Moot Court partners Jakob Morgan, a social sciences jurisprudence and Guy D. Newman Honors Academy major from Blanket, and Skyler Schoolfield, a social sciences jurisprudence, communication and Guy D. Newman Honors Academy major from Aledo, also competed at the TUMCA tournament, finishing as quarterfinalists. Morgan and Schoolfield’s success later garnered them a bid to the national competition as well.

A portion of HPU’s Moot Court team also attended the recent Texas Tech School of Law Moot Court Tournament in Lubbock. Rebeca Puente, a sophomore political science pre-law and Guy D. Newman Honors Academy major from Texarkana, placed as the eighth overall speaker.

Moot Court is an experiential learning program that offers students the opportunity to cultivate their understanding of law interpretation, analytical debate, jurisprudence and case precedents. Students learn to argue both sides of two theoretical cases involving constitutional issues before a simulated United States Supreme Court. The team is led by Lorianna Kelley, assistant professor of political science.

“Howard Payne University has consistently shown great success competing in collegiate Moot Court,” said Kelley. “The students put in countless hours of work and preparation, and we love seeing that hard work recognized.”

Bonner, a three-year member of the team and two-time regional champion, reflected on her experience as an HPU Moot Court participant.

“Moot Court is one of the greatest opportunities I have received through Howard Payne,” she said. “The program at this school is truly phenomenal, as evidenced by the long record of HPU tournament wins. I am honored to be a part of that tradition, along with my excellent partner, Isaac. I am also grateful for the chance to be coached by Professor Kelley, a past national Moot Court champion, and for the fun and great dynamic we have with everyone on the team.”

Sommers echoed her sentiment.

“As a freshman at Howard Payne and as someone planning to study law, Moot Court has proven to be an absolutely invaluable experience for me,” he said. “The skills I am learning will better equip me for law school and would be beneficial for anyone regardless of profession.”

Additional team members include Nicole Nehf, a senior from May; Christopher Mitchell, a senior from Wolf City; Colton McCabe, a senior from Gatesville; Zachary Eller, a junior from Temple; Andres Zambrano, a junior from Lake Brownwood; Caitlin Wood, a junior from Miles; J. Brian Bailey, a sophomore from Gunter; and Dani Coquat, a freshman from Three Rivers.

Dr. Justin D. Murphy, HPU’s Brand professor of history, dean of the School of Humanities and director of the Guy D. Newman Honors Academy, voiced his gratitude for those who give HPU students opportunities to succeed.

“God has blessed HPU and the Academy through the members of the Academy Board of Directors,” he said. “We would not be able to provide opportunities like this without their support over the years in establishing endowments and making gifts. I am also so very grateful to have a colleague with the credentials and leadership skills of Professor Kelley.”


Photo cutline: HPU’s Isaac Sommers and Katie Rose Bonner were named Texas Undergraduate Moot Court Association regional champions at the recent Texas A&M School of Law Moot Court Tournament in Fort Worth.

HPU sophomore Sarahi Castillo awarded UPS Scholarship through ICUT Foundation

Sarahi Castillo for webBROWNWOOD – October 14, 2014 – Sarahi Castillo, a sophomore at Howard Payne University, was recently selected to receive a $2,425 UPS Scholarship provided through the ICUT Foundation.

Sarahi is the daughter of Maria C. Medina and Larry Medina of El Paso and a 2013 graduate of Montwood High School. She is majoring in exercise and sport science at HPU and is a member of the women’s basketball team.

The ICUT Foundation is a charitable organization operated by the Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas, a statewide association for private colleges and universities. ICUT Foundation is an affiliate of the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC). Since 1985, The UPS Foundation has funded over $2.2 million in scholarships for Texas students.

The UPS Foundation (NYSE: UPS), which celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2011, is responsible for facilitating community involvement to local, national and global communities. In 2010, UPS and its employees, active and retired, invested more than $95 million in charitable giving around the world.

Eduardo Martinez, president of The UPS Foundation, said, “UPS is pleased to continue that spirit of giving by partnering with CIC to support thousands of students working to become the leaders of tomorrow by obtaining an education from our nation’s independent colleges.”

Richard Ekman serves as CIC president.

“Through this national scholarship program, CIC and UPS are delighted to make it possible for 614 deserving young men and women to attend the private college or university of their choice,” he said. “By directly assisting students with significant financial need, CIC and UPS are helping a new generation of students achieve their dreams of a college education.”


Photo cutline: HPU sophomore Sarahi Castillo was recently awarded a UPS Scholarship through the ICUT Foundation.

HPU’s speech and debate team begins competition season

SSB Fall 2014 for webBROWNWOOD – October 10, 2014 – Howard Payne University’s competitive speech and debate team, Student Speaker Bureau (SSB), began its 2014-2015 competition season in September.

The team first traveled to Texas State University to participate in practice British parliamentary (BP) debate rounds with the TSU team, followed by the Hill Country Swing individual events tournament.

“I’m really excited that we were able to have some practice debate rounds with the TSU team,” said Dr. Julie Welker, head of the communication department and SSB coach. “They are a highly competitive team and, since we only go to two BP tournaments a year, it was very beneficial to get in the extra practice.”

The team then traveled to Colorado Springs, Colorado, to compete in the United States Air Force Academy and Colorado College Tournament.

“This tournament is such a great experience for our team,” said Dr. Welker. “We get to compete against universities from all over the United States, including teams from Yale and University of Alaska-Anchorage. These schools are considered some of the best in the U.S., so it’s a privilege to get to compete with them.”

According to Dr. Welker, of the four HPU teams that competed, two of the teams missed advancing to the quarterfinals round by just a few points.

“That is quite impressive,” she added.

During the trip to Colorado Springs, the team was able to take the Pike’s Peak Cog Railway up to the Pike’s Peak Summit.

Kaleigh Tankersley, senior from Iraan and team captain, said the tournament was a good experience and the trip to Pike’s Peak was wonderful.

“The SSB trip to Pike’s Peak was a great time for all of us to bond and to really get to know each other,” she said. “We also got to experience some of the most gorgeous landscapes in the world.”

Dr. Welker said she believes the students deserve to have some fun in exchange for all their hard work.

“The Pike’s Peak trip was just amazing,” she said. “The views were unbelievable, and the experience together as a team was special.”

The team also visited the United States Air Force Academy and the Garden of the Gods.

Braxton Clark, a freshman from Southlake, said that the trip was an overall good experience.

“Going to Colorado with the SSB team has brought us closer together and helped us learn each other’s strengths and weaknesses, which will help us as we proceed,” he said.

While the debate team was competing in Colorado, two freshmen team members attended the Newbie Novice individual events tournament at Tarrant County College. Luis Rodriguez Ortiz of Brownsville placed fifth in impromptu and extemporaneous speaking, and Brianna Cruz of San Angelo placed fifth in prose and poetry.

“These two freshmen, although late additions to the team, really showed up and competed well at this tournament,” said Dr. Welker. “I’m looking forward to seeing how they continue to grow this year.”

In addition to Clark, Cruz, Rodriguez Ortiz and Tankersley, members of HPU’s SSB include Marcos Corley, a senior from Corpus Christi; Meg Eakin, a sophomore from Plano; Adam Jones, a sophomore from Irving; Lauren Long, a freshman from Grand Junction, Colo.; Jared Russell, a senior from Hillsboro; and Dorie Walton, a junior from Lolita.

The team is preparing for two major upcoming tournaments – the Texas Intercollegiate Forensics Association fall championships in October and the Oxford IV International BP Tournament in November.

For more information about the Student Speaker Bureau, visit


Photo cutline: HPU’s competitive speech and debate team, Student Speaker Bureau, recently began its competition season. Team members include, from left, Braxton Clark, Dorie Walton, Adam Jones, Meg Eakin, Marcos Corley, Kaleigh Tankersley, Jared Russell, Lauren Long and Dr. Julie Welker. Not pictured are Brianna Cruz and Luis Rodriguez Ortiz.

HPU’s Chuck Boland named FAR Fellow by NCAA Division III

Chuck Boland FAR for webBROWNWOOD – October 9, 2014 – Howard Payne University’s Chuck Boland, faculty athletic representative, professor of accounting and chair of the accounting department, has been selected as a 2014 NCAA Division III FAR Fellow.

According to the organization, the Faculty Athletic Representative (FAR) Fellows Institute was launched in 2010 and aims to increase the effectiveness of Division III faculty athletic representatives at the campus, conference and national levels.

Boland has served at HPU since 1981.

“I am grateful that the NCAA selected me,” said Boland in a news release issued by the organization. “I plan to take the opportunity to enhance the FAR position and be more noticeable in the athletic-academic circles.”

As a FAR Fellow, Boland will participate in a three-day professional development program at the NCAA national office in Indianapolis October 17-19. The program is designed to examine best practices and issues surrounding the role and responsibility of faculty athletic representatives, help fellows develop the leadership skills necessary to carry out their responsibilities on campus and in their conference, and strengthen the network of FARs needed to serve on conference, divisional and association-wide committees.

“We’re very pleased that the NCAA has recognized Chuck in this way,” said Mike Jones, HPU athletic director. “He is a tremendous asset to our campus and the American Southwest Conference. It is a pleasure to work alongside Chuck to advocate for our student athletes and our coaches.”


Photo cutline: Chuck Boland, faculty athletic representative, professor of accounting and chair of the accounting department at HPU, has been selected as a 2014 NCAA Division III FAR Fellow.

HPU’s Dr. Rick Beelby inducted into WBU’s Athletic Hall of Honor

Rick Beelby WBU for webBROWNWOOD – October 8, 2014 – Dr. Rick Beelby, associate professor of exercise and sport science at Howard Payne University, was recently inducted into Wayland Baptist University’s Athletic Hall of Honor. Dr. Beelby coached track and field at WBU from 1988 to 2001.

A news release issued by WBU quoted Dr. Beelby as saying the development of character is the most essential element for participating in athletics.

“I like what athletics can do for young men and women,” he said. “It gives them a purpose and a direction and an opportunity to set goals and achieve those goals if they use discipline and honest effort. I was probably attracted to that aspect of (coaching) as much as anything.”

The news release listed Dr. Beelby’s accomplishments at WBU, including training 30 women and six men National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) national champions, guiding the men’s and women’s track and field teams to NAIA indoor national championships and three times being named the NAIA National Coach of the Year.

Dr. Graham Hatcher, department chair and professor of exercise and sport science at Howard Payne University, said HPU also celebrates Dr. Beelby’s recognition by WBU.

“Since coming to HPU, Dr. Beelby has provided exemplary leadership across campus and in developing an instructional program that is noted statewide,” said Dr. Hatcher. “But most important is his Christian commitment and inspirational mentorship to hundreds of students.”


Photo cutline: Dr. Rick Beelby, associate professor of exercise and sport science at Howard Payne University, was recently inducted into Wayland Baptist University’s Athletic Hall of Honor. He is pictured on the HPU campus.

HPU New Braunfels graduate published in scholarly journal

By Jaclyn Bonner, HPU sophomore

BROWNWOOD – September 29, 2014 – Dwayne M. Eastwood of New Braunfels, a 2014 Master of Business Administration graduate of Howard Payne University’s New Braunfels Center, was published online last month in Risk & Insurance, a professional journal that features articles by leading executives concerned with the topic of risk management.

Dwayne Eastwood for webEastwood researched efficiency, health and safety in the work field for his capstone project, focusing on the innovation of stand-up desks. At the conclusion of his studies he met his goal of submitting his findings for publication.

His article, “Stand Up for Health,” analyzed the health benefits, long-term cost reduction and risk factor limitation of providing employees with a sit-stand option.

“Having a piece of work published is the pinnacle for people who are passionate about what they do for a living,” Eastwood remarked. “I received advice, support and encouragement from the professors at HPU’s New Braunfels Center during the process. I do not think my work would have been published without their support.”

Eastwood earned his bachelor’s degree in fire protection and safety at Oklahoma State University and is currently employed as the risk manager at McCoy’s Building Supply corporate headquarters in San Marcos.

Dr. Dan Pryor, assistant professor of business at HPU, noted, “Dwayne is a great example of the outstanding students in HPU’s MBA program. He’s bright and he’s taken what he’s learned in the program and made practical applications at McCoy’s. Dwayne was an asset to his colleagues in the MBA program, and his future is very bright.”

Eastwood expressed his satisfaction with both the faculty and the university as a whole.

“Even though I have completed the MBA program, I feel confident that if I were to call on the professors, they would be more than willing to support my growth in the future,” he stated. “I chose HPU New Braunfels because it was a non-traditional program. The decision to return to school for an MBA was one of the best decisions I have ever made.”

HPU criminal justice students attend Elizabeth Smart lecture

CRJ Group with Elizabeth Smart for webBROWNWOOD – September 25, 2014 – Several Howard Payne University criminal justice students recently attended a lecture by Elizabeth Smart at a luncheon hosted by the Alliance for Women and Children in Abilene.

Smart first received national attention in 2002 when, at the age of 14, she was abducted from her home near Salt Lake City. She was rescued nine months later. Today, she serves as president of the Elizabeth Smart Foundation, through which she works to prevent future crimes against children.

“Many of us still vividly remember following Elizabeth Smart’s harrowing ordeal through television and newspaper reports,” said Lynn Humeniuk, associate professor of criminal justice/sociology and director of HPU’s criminal justice program. “She has become a force for positive action and it was a great blessing to hear her speak.”


Photo cutline: Six HPU students recently attended a lecture by Elizabeth Smart. Back row: Patricia Boisse, junior from Blanket; Adrianna Perez, senior from Rowlett; Danyel Bradley, junior from Desoto; Paola Guzman, senior from Brownwood; Christina Calleros, junior from Brownwood; and Sylvia Nowlin, junior from Coleman. Front row: Cynthia Givan, administrative assistant for English and criminal justice; Elizabeth Smart and Lynn Humeniuk, associate professor of criminal justice/sociology and director of HPU’s criminal justice program.

Deans among new faculty at HPU

BROWNWOOD – September 23, 2014 – Two deans are among the nine new Howard Payne University faculty members this semester. Dr. Richard Fiese serves as dean of the School of Music and Fine Arts and professor of music, while Alexia Riggs joins HPU as dean of libraries and associate professor of library science.

Richard Fiese for webDr. Fiese most recently served as professor in music education at Houston Baptist University from 2000 to 2014. Additionally, he has served as associate professor of music education at the University of Miami from 1995 to 2000; associate professor of music education at the University of Houston from 1989 to 1995; and director of bands at Henry L. West Laboratory School in Coral Gables, Fla. from 1986 to 1989. He earned his doctorate from the University of Miami in 1989.

Dr. Les Plagens, dean of HPU’s School of Business, co-chaired the selection committee in the search to fill the position.

“Dr. Fiese brings both depth and breadth in higher education administrative experience to this dean position at HPU,” he said. “He has accomplished a significant body of scholarly activity nationally and has produced an impressive record of service for the music education profession in Texas.”

Alexia Riggs is a 2002 HPU graduate. Her previous experience includes serving as reference librarian at Del Mar College from 2012 to 2014; technical services librarian at Paris Junior College from 2009 to 2012; government document librarian intern at Texas Christian University in 2009; and as a music library assistant at Hardin-Simmons University from 2004 to 2005. She has completed all but her dissertation toward a doctoral degree from Texas A&M University in Corpus Christi.

Alexia Riggs for web“Alexia is a wonderful addition to our faculty and we’re delighted that she chose to return to serve her alma mater,” said Dr. W. Mark Tew, provost and chief academic officer.

According to Dr. Tew, choosing those who will serve as leaders among the HPU faculty is a tremendously important task.

“The semester has only just begun and we’re already benefiting from their knowledge, experience and leadership,” he said. “I am deeply appreciative of the faculty and deans who worked tirelessly as members of the search committees that recommended these two extraordinary candidates.”


Photo cutlines: Two deans are among the new faculty at HPU.

Dr. Richard Fiese serves as dean of the School of Music and Fine Arts and professor of music.

Alexia Riggs serves as dean of libraries and associate professor of library science.