News Archives: Academics

HPU education professor publishes children’s book

Dr Voss and book for webBROWNWOOD – June 5, 2014 – Dr. Daresa Voss, professor of education at Howard Payne University, never really intended to write a children’s book but, according to Voss, God had other plans. In response to the 2013 Moore, Okla., tornado, Dr. Voss penned “Gavriel and Giselle: Anilange,” a book dedicated to all disaster survivors.

“I remember watching the tornado coverage on TV and wondering, as a former kindergarten teacher, would I have been able to stay calm and keep my students calm,” she said.

The answer, as written on the back cover of her new book, is “a definite ‘yes,’ but only with God’s help.”

Dr. Voss was on a road trip a few weeks after the tornado when God revealed the story to her in a “colorful movie format.” In a hurry to capture the story, she began dictating the scenes on her iPhone. When she arrived home, it took a day to transcribe everything into text and several months to revise and refine.

The story is designed to bring comfort to children, parents, teachers and communities following any tragic event. Intended for second- and third-grade audiences, the book contains the appropriate vocabulary and literary devices. It is illustrated by Dr. Voss’ son, Ben Voss, a financial advisor with Edward Jones in Lubbock.

Dr. Voss has donated the book to many school districts, hoping it will be read in classrooms in towns that – like Moore and the fictional community in the book – have experienced disasters.

“This is God’s story and He wanted me to spread the word,” she said. “I’ve learned when God nudges you to do something, you obey.”

“Gavriel and Giselle: Anilange” is available for purchase at retailers including Barnes & Noble and Amazon. It may also be purchased through the publisher at


Photo cutline: Dr. Daresa Voss, professor of education at HPU, holds a copy of her new book, “Gavriel and Giselle: Anilange.”

HPU to host book signing for authors of Texas fern guide

Ferns and Lycophytes Book Cover for webBROWNWOOD – May 29, 2014 – Howard Payne University will host the authors of “The Ferns and Lycophytes of Texas” in a book-signing event on Friday, June 13, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., at the university’s Walker Memorial Library.

Botanists George M. Diggs, Jr., and Barney L. Lipscomb conducted their research using, in part, a fern collection in HPU’s herbarium. Dr. Marilyn Mathis, associate professor of biology at HPU, serves as curator of the herbarium.

“My students this spring used the book for identifying the ferns they collected and we found it to be extremely useful,” she said.

A description of the book found on the Botanical Research Institute of Texas’ website (, states, “Texas has a surprising number of native ferns and lycophytes — 127 in all, the most of any state in the continental U.S.A.”

HPU’s collection provided valuable insight to the authors. Among other samples, HPU’s herbarium houses the only known Texas collection of the Pteris vittata fern, gathered from a stream-side boulder in San Saba County.

Dr. Jack Stanford, professor emeritus of biology at HPU who retired from the university in 1999 after 33 years of service, contributed to the book and received special recognition from the authors.

“The authors have provided us with a superb look at Texas plants,” said Dr. Stanford. “Anyone with an interest in plants – from botanists to home gardeners – will enjoy meeting them as well as reading their new and refreshing treatment of the ferns and their allies found throughout Texas.”

For more information or to order a copy of the book, visit Books will also be available for purchase during the event. For more information about the book signing, contact the university’s Walker Memorial Library at (325) 649-8602.


Photo cutline: HPU will host the authors of “The Ferns and Lycophytes of Texas” in a book-signing event on Friday, June 13.

Four graduate with MBA from HPU’s New Braunfels Center

NB graduates Spring 2014 for webBROWNWOOD – May 20, 2014 – Four area businesspeople recently graduated with Master of Business Administration degrees from Howard Payne University’s New Braunfels Center. Kimberly Ashley-Stevens, Steve Ellery, Brittney Overstreet and Frank Wall received their diplomas during the university’s Commencement ceremony on May 10 in Brownwood.

HPU began offering the MBA degree in New Braunfels in the spring 2013 semester and undergraduate degrees the following fall.

Kimberly Ashley-Stevens works for an international secondary customer service provider.

“The Howard Payne MBA program reinforced a value that had shaken me to my core when I was working in the public sector,” she said. “There are Christians who are captains of industry and they do not have to compromise their values to be successful and to carry on Christ’s ministry. My excitement in regards to business has been rekindled and my focus is once again on the right prize.”

Designed to work around busy schedules, HPU’s MBA degree can be achieved in as few as 12 months, with all courses offered at night and on weekends.

Steve Ellery is the group product manager at Hexcel Corporation in Seguin, a manufacturer of aerospace carbon fiber composite materials. He is responsible for marketing, technical service and customer service.

“I really enjoyed my experience at HPU in New Braunfels,” he said. “The instructors and class formats were excellent and the class schedules did not interfere with my work schedule. Enrolling in the MBA program at HPU was one of the best decisions I have ever made. This is a great program for professionals who already have a career and want to broaden their skills.”

Brittney Overstreet serves as the production-creative coordinator for small business and leadership programs at the Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce, Inc.

“I am so glad HPU came to New Braunfels,” she said. “It was convenient to take classes without having to commute.”

Though the program has a business core, it also includes courses such as organizational communication and psychological applications, designed to add a deeper understanding of practical skills to business and management applications. Prerequisite self-study course work is available for non-business undergraduates entering the program.

Frank Wall is director of information technology at Simpson Performance Products, Inc., a manufacturer of driver safety equipment for the auto racing industry.

“HPU’s MBA program provided me with rich experiences and information from highly qualified instructors, strong course materials and a diverse array of business and life perspectives from fellow students,” he said. “Overall, it was a challenging and enriching experience that I highly recommend to anyone wanting to take his or her career and capabilities to the next level.”

The HPU New Braunfels Center office is located at 1423 N. Walnut Ave., Suite 105. Until HPU’s permanent New Braunfels campus is constructed as part of the Veramendi development project, courses are being offered at New Braunfels High School, at the Aflac Suite (1259 Loop 337 North, Suite #200) and online. For more information, visit or call (830) 629-2366.


Photo cutline: Four area businesspeople recently graduated with MBA degrees from Howard Payne University’s New Braunfels Center. Left to right: Steve Ellery, Frank Wall, Brittney Overstreet and Kimberly Ashley-Stevens.

Six HPU students honored during annual Servant Leadership Program

Photo 1 Ellis and Bartley for webBROWNWOOD – May 16, 2014 – Six Howard Payne University students were honored recently for their acts of servant leadership on campus and throughout the community. The awards were presented during the university’s annual Servant Leadership Program.

“HPU recognizes students each year who embody the servant leadership qualities most notably demonstrated to us by Jesus Christ,” said Dr. Donnie Auvenshine, professor of Christian studies and dean of the School of Christian Studies.

Jeremy Bartley, a senior elementary education major from Brownwood, and Rebekah Steadman, a senior social work major from Fort Worth, were presented the Nat Tracy Servant Leader Award. The award was established in 1998 to honor the life of the late Dr. Nat Tracy, a member of HPU’s Bible faculty from 1950-1975.

Photo 2 Ellis and Steadman for web

HPU Servant Leadership Awards were presented to juniors Marlie Austin, a psychology major in the Guy D. Newman Honors Academy from Garland; Lacy Culpepper, a business management major from Zephyr; Dillon McDugle, an exercise and sport science major from Tomball; and Kaitlin Vernon, a secondary education/history major from Bangs.

Established in 2007 by the Moore Foundation and Barney II Foundation, this award recognizes student excellence in the areas of leadership and service. A $1,000 scholarship is provided to each recipient of the award, and each student designates $250 of the scholarship award to be given to his or her chosen charity.

Photo 3 Ellis and Culpepper for web

Nominations for both awards are solicited each spring from HPU staff, faculty and students.

“It’s not unusual for institutions to recognize those who show great leadership qualities, but it is rare in today’s society to honor those who lead by service to others,” said Dr. Auvenshine. “It is our privilege to bring attention to these students who serve others with no desire for recognition at all.”


Photo cutlines: Dr. Bill Ellis, HPU president, presents the Nat Tracy Servant Leader Award to Jeremy Bartley (Photo 1) and Rebekah Steadman (Photo 2).

Photo 4 Ellis and Austin for web

Dr. Bill Ellis, HPU president, presents the HPU Servant Leadership Award to Lacy Culpepper (Photo 3) and Marlie Austin (Photo 4).

Not pictured are Dillon McDugle and Kaitlin Vernon.


HPU business students assist local organization

BROWNWOOD – May 16, 2014 – Howard Payne University students in Dr. Kevin Kelley’s organizational behavior class recently finalized and delivered an applied class project to Doak Givan, executive director at Brownwood’s Family Services Center.

The students reviewed and updated the Family Services Center’s job descriptions, a project which took approximately 10 weeks to complete.

“The students successfully made entry, negotiated scope, identified project leaders and teams, developed an interview guide, trained interviewers, scheduled interviews and interviewed 20 Family Services Center employees,” said Dr. Kelley, assistant professor of organizational psychology. “They then revised and rewrote job descriptions and delivered a polished product. Mr. Givan was exceptionally pleased with the team’s professionalism, timeliness, dedication and final product.”

In addition to applying what they learned in the classroom to a live consulting project, students divided into teams and leaders volunteered to manage both tasks and people. Finally, a project manager was promoted, which allowed the students run the entire project to completion.

Students participating in the project were Neva Bowers, junior from Victoria, project manager; Shelby Creed, senior from Brownwood, team member; Lacy Culpepper, junior from Zephyr, final deliverable manager; Ray Delgado, junior from Brownwood, deliverable lead; Ethan Ferrel, senior from Childress, team member; Kalin Hanna, senior from Brownwood, team member; Zach Herman, senior from Brownwood, scheduling lead; Dustin Kelver, senior from Spring, deliverable lead; Lizzie Mitchell, senior from Mesquite, team member; Jake Sadler, junior from Liberty Hill, team member; Will Thomas, senior from Brownwood, team member; Skyler Turpin, senior from Graham, team member; and Ross Whittet, senior from Granbury, scheduling lead.

HPU students complete criminal justice internships

criminal justice interns for webBROWNWOOD – May 15, 2014 – Fifteen Howard Payne University students were recently honored for the completion of internships in the field of criminal justice.

The students completed 150 hours of service which reflected three credit hours toward their major in criminal justice. Internships included working with “at risk” students and adults at local, state and federal agencies as well as positions with law firms, law enforcement agencies and many other service organizations that help students prepare for a future in the field of criminal justice.

“We’re very thankful to the many agencies who hosted our students and to the individuals who served as supervisors, sharing their skills and knowledge with our interns,” said Lynn Humeniuk, associate professor of criminal justice/sociology and director of HPU’s criminal justice program. “Internships are an invaluable resource to our students and a great pathway to future employment.”

Participating students included Mitchell Bailey, senior from Early, intern at Ron Jackson Juvenile Correctional Facility; Ashley Biering, senior from Spring Branch, intern at Brown Country District Attorney’s Office; Carlton Brown, senior from Brownwood, intern at Brownwood Fire Department’s Office of Arson Investigation; John Gramling, senior from Brownwood, intern at Brown County Sheriff’s Office; Alejandro Guerrero, December 2013 graduate from Dallas, intern at Brownwood Police Department; Manuela Holguin, senior from El Paso, intern at Vista College Office of Financial Aid; Taylor Jordan, senior from Brownwood, intern at Ron Jackson Juvenile Correctional Facility, Texas Juvenile Justice Department; Wesley Livingston, senior from Wylie, intern at HPU Department of Public Safety; Pricilla Patino, senior from Abilene, intern at HPU Department of Public Safety; Josh Simons, senior from Bangs, intern at Brown County Sheriff’s Office; Daniel Taylor, senior from Florence, intern at Glorieta Baptist Encampment; Jarrod Tipton, senior from Brownwood, intern at Texas Department of Public Safety; Tommy Valencia, senior from Brownwood, intern at Texas Parks and Wildlife; Eric Villanueba, senior from Paradise, intern at Texas Department of Public Safety; and Eric Young, senior from Yantis, intern at Early Police Department.

Individuals serving as supervisors were Tony Aaron, captain, Brown County Sheriff’s Office; Elisha Bird, assistant district attorney for Brown County; Rebecca Cadena, case manager, Texas Juvenile Justice Department; Bobby Duvall, assistant chief deputy, Brown County Sheriff’s Office; James Fuller, assistant chief, Brownwood Police Department; Susan Gunn, case manager, Texas Juvenile Justice Department; Carl Kesee, sergeant, Texas Department of Public Safety; David Mercer, chief of police, Early Police Department; Josh Modt, director of Fuge Camps, Glorieta Baptist Encampment; Lt. Bob Pacatte, assistant chief, HPU Department of Public Safety; Buddy Preston, fire marshal, Brownwood Fire Department; Grady Suey, assistant fire chief, Brownwood Fire Department; Arika Vallejo, Vista College Office of Financial Aid; and Capt. Malcolm Wilkes, district director, Texas Parks and Wildlife.

Others serving as mentors to students included Dave Bosecker, game warden, Texas Parks and Wildlife; Chris Delgado, corporal, Texas Department of Public Safety; Sandra Garcia, administrative assistant, Early Police Department; David Modgling, captain, Texas Parks and Wildlife; and John Moody, trooper, Texas Department of Public Safety.


Photo cutline: HPU students were recently honored for the successful completion of criminal justice internships. They are pictured with supervisors and other mentors as well as with HPU faculty. Standing, from left, are: Carlton Brown, Buddy Preston, John Moody, David Modgling, Chris Delgado, Dave Bosecker, Wesley Livingston, Bob Pacatte, Susan Gunn, James Fuller, Jarrod Tipton, Josh Simons, Eric Young and David Mercer. Seated, from left, are Tommy Valencia, Lynn Humeniuk, Taylor Jordan, Sandra Garcia and Daniel Taylor.

HPU to hold spring Commencement Saturday

BROWNWOOD – May 8, 2014 – Howard Payne University will graduate 155 students during the spring Commencement ceremony this Saturday, May 10, beginning at 10 a.m. at the Brownwood Coliseum.

Dr. Bill Ellis, university president, and other university representatives will confer the undergraduate and graduate degrees, as well as the Honorary Doctor of Letters degree to Dr. Carol L. McDonald. Dr. Ellis will deliver the charge to the graduates.

Additional program participants include: Corey Ash ’92, associate professor of music and director of bands; Dr. Donnie Auvenshine ’75, dean of the School of Christian Studies and professor of Christian studies; Robert Carter ’73, chairman of the HPU Board of Trustees; Dr. Gary Gramling ’81, director of the graduate program in youth ministry and professor of Christian studies; Dr. Justin D. Murphy, dean of the School of Humanities, professor of history and director of the Guy D. Newman Honors Academy; Dr. Lois Patton, director of the graduate program in business administration and professor of business administration; Dr. Leslie Plagens, dean of the School of Business and professor of business administration; Pastor Steve Polaski ’81, associate pastor of Victory Life Church in Brownwood; Debbie Prude ’78, president of the HPU Alumni Association; Dr. Joe Robinson, director of the instructional leadership graduate program and associate professor of education; Dr. Michael Rosato, dean of the School of Education and professor of education; Dr. Jay T. Smith ’96, lead pastor at First Baptist Church in Bozeman, Mont.; Dr. W. Mark Tew, provost; Zachary James Tharp, candidate for graduation; Lana Wagner ’97, registrar; Dr. Julie Welker ’94, faculty president, professor of communication and chair of the Department of Communication Studies; and the HPU Instrumental Ensemble.

The Commencement ceremony will be preceded on Friday, May 9, by Chime Out, an HPU tradition in which graduating seniors pass a chain of ivy to underclassmen, symbolizing the passing of authority, responsibility and privileges to those students who remain on campus to carry on the traditions of the university. Chime Out begins at 6 p.m. at the university’s J. Howard Hodge Memorial Bell Towers.


HPU scholarship creates new opportunities for Lampasas-area students

Emily Ramsey for webBROWNWOOD – May 1, 2014 – One of the most appealing aspects of Howard Payne University, according to freshman Emily Ramsey from Lampasas, is the sense of community.

“HPU is like a small town in itself,” she said. “It feels a lot like Lampasas. It’s a very personable school – everybody knows you and the teachers care about you and are focused on your success.”

Emily said she has no doubt God led her to HPU.

“I applied here and one other university,” she said. “I got a great scholarship to attend HPU, but none from the other university. It was an easy decision.”

She is one of many students receiving HPU’s Central Texas Scholarship, which awards $52,000 over four years to eligible applicants from Lampasas and the surrounding counties. Students such as Emily are finding they can attend a nationally recognized university not far from home.

“I’m only an hour away from Lampasas, but I still have the space I need away from home,” she said. “I know I can go home at any time and I also have friends and professors here who I can trust with anything.”

Emily is a business management major with a concentration in marketing/advertising and a minor in computer information systems. When not in class, she spends most of her hours at her on-campus job, Fambrough’s Eatery & Coffee Bar. She wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I’ve always been a worker,” she said. “I got my first job at 16, and I haven’t stopped working since.”

Her position allows her to interact with others on campus.

“Emily always seems to enjoy talking to students, faculty and staff while she prepares and serves their food,” said PJ Gramling, director of admission. “And we enjoy talking with her! She is a great addition to our campus.”

After graduation, Emily plans on having a career in advertising with a focus on web design. At HPU, she’s found the support she needs to help her achieve those goals.

“I can go to my professors at any time for any reason,” she said. “I love HPU. It is the perfect school for me.”

To learn more about HPU’s Central Texas Scholarship, call the Office of Admission at (325) 649-8020 or e-mail For more information about Howard Payne University, visit


Photo cutline: Emily Ramsey is one of many students receiving HPU’s Central Texas Scholarship, which awards $52,000 over four years to eligible applicants from Lampasas and the surrounding counties.

Five HPU personnel to be recognized during book-signing event

HPU authors for webBROWNWOOD – May 1, 2014 – Howard Payne University will host a book-signing event next Monday, May 5, to honor five faculty and staff members who have recently published books. The event will be held from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the Richard and Wanda Jackson Conference Room inside HPU’s Paul and Jane Meyer Faith and Life Leadership Center.

HPU authors recognized during the event will include Deborah Pierson Dill, administrative assistant for the School of Science and Mathematics; Dr. Derek Hatch, assistant professor of Christian studies; Dr. Melody Maxwell, assistant professor of Christian studies; John Nickols, assistant professor of history and political science and special assistant to the athletic director; and Dr. Daresa Voss, professor of education.

Set in Central Texas, “Perfect Shelter” is a contemporary Christian romance novel by Deborah Pierson Dill. Released in 2010, it is the first in a series of three novels published by Pelican Book Group. The other novels in the series are “Return to Me” and “Moving On.”

Dr. Derek Hatch co-edited “Gathering Together: Baptists at Work in Worship,” which was published in August 2013. The book features a collection of articles by pastors and educators examining how acts of worship help shape the Baptist faith.

“Torches in the Corridor: 125 Years of Tennessee Woman’s Missionary Union” is an expansion of a thesis  Dr. Melody Maxwell published as an undergraduate student at Union University in Jackson, Tenn. Published in April 2014, the book features historical profiles of leaders within Tennessee Woman’s Missionary Union.

John Nickols recently published “The Last Three Outs,” a baseball novel with Christian themes. The book features a bright pitching prospect whose baseball career is suddenly threatened by a shoulder injury. According to Nickols, the story loosely parallels the life of Joseph in the Old Testament.

“Gavriel and Giselle: Anilange” is a children’s book by Dr. Daresa Voss. Written in response to the 2013 Moore, Okla., tornado, the story is designed to bring comfort to children, parents, teachers and communities following any tragic event.

Dr. W. Mark Tew, HPU’s provost and chief academic officer, said he is pleased that through research and writing HPU faculty and staff members continue to learn and grow in their respective fields.

“These authors are terrific examples to our students by demonstrating that education is a lifelong endeavor,” he said.


Photo cutline: HPU will honor five faculty and staff members at a book-signing event on May 5. Left to right: Deborah Pierson Dill, John Nickols, Dr. Melody Maxwell, Dr. Daresa Voss and Dr. Derek Hatch.

HPU’s Student Speaker Bureau competes at Texas Intercollegiate Forensics Association championship tournament

BROWNWOOD – February 19, 2014 – Howard Payne University’s competitive speech and debate team, Student Speaker Bureau, recently competed at the Texas Intercollegiate Forensics Association spring championship tournament at Rice University. The team won 5th place overall sweepstakes, losing only to Division I universities.

“This is a great accomplishment,” said Dr. Julie Welker, head of the communication department and SSB coach. “It is outstanding when a university the size of HPU comes in right behind larger universities. Most of those schools have upwards of 20 students on their team and enter twice as many events. We are competing with eight students. Our students pack a lot of bang for their buck!”

The team had a strong showing in debate, as the open division team of Katie Mullaney, senior English and Guy D. Newman Honors Academy major from Boylston, Mass., and Ben Palmer, senior youth ministry major from Brownwood, advanced to quarterfinals.

HPU had four speakers in the top 20 for parliamentary debate speaker awards. Winning top speaker awards were Mullaney and Adam Jones, freshman communication, youth ministry and Academy major from Irving, both of whom ranked in the top 10. Palmer and Andres Zambrano, freshman Academy and political science major from Brownwood, ranked in the top 20.

Palmer also advanced to semifinals in extemporaneous speaking, and Jones advanced to semifinals in impromptu speaking.

“I am extremely proud of all of these students,” said Welker. “This was our first parliamentary debate tournament since last September, so we were a little rusty. It’s impressive that we had a team break to quarters and receive such great speaking awards.”

Welker added that the HPU students have been able to step in and succeed, even with such a young team.

“We only have two graduating seniors on our team, Katie and Ben, and they are great leaders,” she said. “Their debating experience really shines through at these tough tournaments.”

Other students who competed at the tournament were Marcos Corley, junior criminal justice major from Corpus Christi; Meg Eakin, freshman political science major from Plano; Jaclyn Bonner, freshman communication major from Lytle; and Adrianna Perez, junior political science major from Rowlett. Kim Bryant, associate professor of communication, also helps coach the team.