News Archives: Alumni Relations

HPU alumnus to appear on Travel Channel’s “Burger Land”

BROWNWOOD – May 2, 2013 – Don Blake, a 1977 Howard Payne University alumnus formerly of Brownwood, will be featured on the Travel Channel’s “Burger Land” on Monday, May 6, beginning at 8 p.m.

The owner of Blakes BBQ and Burgers in Houston, Blake was profiled in the 2011 book “Hamburger America,” a state-by-state guidebook to the best hamburger restaurants in America.

Blake often uses the word “serendipity” to describe his successes in the business, a word he says he first learned while a student at HPU.

“I remember sitting in Chapel when I was a sophomore,” he said. “The speaker said ‘serendipity’ and it stuck in my mind.”

Though he attributes many of his achievements to serendipity, his business wouldn’t be what it is today without hard work and a knack for making great burgers.

“I would like for you to join me in watching as we celebrate the successes of an HPU graduate and former resident of Brownwood,” said Dr. Bill Ellis, HPU president. “Hopefully we’ll also learn a few tips on making burgers worthy of a Travel Channel special.”

Episodes of “Burger Land” featuring Blake will repeat throughout the month of May. Visit www.travelchannel.com/schedule for listings.

Cynthia Clawson Courtney honored with prestigious HPU Yellow Rose Award

yellow_rose_award_2013_for_webBROWNWOOD – April 24, 2013 – Dr. Cynthia Clawson Courtney, 1970 Howard Payne University graduate and award-winning vocalist, recently received the 2013 HPU Woman’s Club Yellow Rose Award. The honor was announced at the Yellow Rose Scholarship Luncheon held on the HPU campus.

In addition to her Grammy Award in 1981, Dr. Courtney has been honored with five Dove awards and numerous Dove nominations. Her rendition of “Softly and Tenderly” was featured in the 1985 Oscar-winning motion picture, “The Trip to Bountiful.” She is a member of the Texas Gospel Music Hall of Fame.

Dr. Courtney received a vocal performance scholarship to attend HPU where she was a member of the A Capella Choir and the Oratorio Chorus. She was also an original member of the HPU Heritage Singers. Dr. Courtney has remained a dedicated alumna, returning to the university numerous times to graciously share her gifts with the HPU family. She was chosen as HPU’s Distinguished Alumna in 1989, the Homecoming Grand Marshal in 1998 and, in 2007, she received an Honorary Doctorate from HPU, the university’s highest honor.

She and her husband, author and playwright Ragan Courtney, live in Houston. They have two adult children, Will and Lily.

The Yellow Rose Award is presented annually to a woman who exhibits exemplary leadership; who supports the university; and who represents Christian values and beliefs foundational to the university.

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Photo cutline: Dr. Cynthia Clawson Courtney (center) was honored with the 2013 HPU Woman’s Club Yellow Rose Award. She is pictured with her husband, Ragan Courtney, and Dr. Diana Ellis, HPU first lady.

HPU launches “A Call to Send” campaign to Heart of Texas residents

ellis_at_campaign_luncheon_for_webBROWNWOOD – April 8, 2013 – Howard Payne University held a luncheon on Monday afternoon to announce its A Call to Send campaign to community leaders from the Heart of Texas area. In preparation for the launch of the campaign, the university unveiled Phase I, which features plans for major new facilities and endowment growth.

A Call to Send is a 10-year, three-phased $65 million campaign that will empower the university to continue to fulfill its mission of providing a quality, Christ-centered education. Phase I is an $18 million campaign with three projects: a new Welcome Center and Academy of Freedom (honors program) building, a new academic building for the School of Education and the Collegium program (advising, tutoring and other services) and increasing the university’s endowment funds for student scholarships and academic program support.

In addition to allowing for the first new buildings on the HPU campus in more than 10 years, the campaign will provide funding to support HPU’s quality academic programs, its state-of-the-art facilities and its scholarships and financial aid to attract and retain students.

Keith Clark of Citizens National Bank welcomed luncheon guests from the Heart of Texas area and introduced Campaign Co-Chairs Dr. Leonard Underwood, retired, of Underwood’s Bar-B-Q, and Dr. Walter C. “Dub” Wilson, business executive, as well as Honorary Chair Dr. O.C. “Putter” Jarvis of Landmark Life Insurance. Clark and Bart Johnson, of Painter & Johnson Financial, serve as the Heart of Texas co-chairs. An invocation was offered by Dr. Dallas Huston, pastor at Center City Baptist Church and sports broadcaster.

Additional Heart of Texas committee members introduced to the community included Dwain Bruner of Bruner Auto Family; Chip Camp of Brownwood Regional Medical Center; Steve Fryar of PF & E Oil Company; Dennis Graham of Airgas; Iva Hamilton, retired from El Paso Natural Gas Company; John Harkey of Ag-Mart; Brownwood Mayor Stephen Haynes of Haynes Law Firm; Draco Miller of Draco Janitorial and Auto Detailing; Tom Munson of Landmark Life Insurance; J. Fred Perry, retired from PF & E Oil Company; and Robert Porter of Porter Insurance Agency.

Dr. Bill Ellis, HPU president, shared the university’s vision for Phase I of the campaign and the effect it will have on the community.

“The relationship between Howard Payne and Brownwood goes back to the earliest days of the community’s history,” he said. “There are very few universities that are more intimately connected with the communities that surround them than Howard Payne. These projects we are showing you today are going to impact this community in very significant ways.”

Dr. Ellis spoke briefly on the many students who graduate from HPU and return to Brownwood to rear their families and continue their careers.heart_of_texas_committee_for_web

“This entire campaign is about attracting students to this university,” he said. “It is about giving them the funds and resources they need to come to this school, so we can send them into the world to make a difference.”

Dr. Leonard Underwood, well known for being a philanthropist in the community and a supporter of the university, spoke about the importance of investing in such a campaign.
“Working closely with the faculty and the students over the years, I’ve learned what a special place this university is,” he said. “It’s a place that has the ability to change the lives of those who pass through here. I’ve discovered the joy of giving to something that’s worthwhile and makes a difference in the lives of so many people.”

The audience was lastly issued a challenge by Dr. Putter Jarvis, described by Clark as a great advocate for Howard Payne, Brownwood and Brown County.

“It’s up to us to see Howard Payne rise to its destiny,” he said. “Will we play our part? We can and we will.”

To contribute to the campaign, or for more information, contact HPU’s Office of Institutional Advancement at (325) 649-8006 or 1-800-950-8465.

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Photo cutlines: Dr. Bill Ellis, university president, discusses plans for new facilities to be constructed at HPU as part of the university’s A Call to Send campaign.

A Call to Send campaign leaders include, from left, Dr. Bill Ellis, Iva Hamilton, Draco Miller, Dr. Leonard Underwood, Keith Clark, Steve Fryar, Dennis Graham, Stephen Haynes, J. Fred Perry, Dwain Bruner, John Harkey, Robert Porter, Bart Johnson and Dr. O.C. “Putter” Jarvis. Not pictured are Dr. Walter C. “Dub” Wilson, Chip Camp and Tom Munson.

HPU student delegates meet with state legislators

hpu_teg_day_for_webBROWNWOOD – April 4, 2013 – Six students from Howard Payne University visited Austin recently for the Tuition Equalization Grant (TEG) Student Advocacy Day. Groups from several private universities in the West Texas region, including HPU, traveled to the capitol building to encourage representatives and senators to continue support for the TEG program.

The HPU students met with legislators and staff from their home districts to thank them for appropriating funds for the program, which assists with tuition to private colleges and universities. They also took a guided tour of the capitol building and observed a Senate session. During the visit, university delegates learned the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Article III (education) added $ 15 million to the TEG program for the 2014-2015 biennium.

“The TEG program has greatly benefitted Howard Payne students over its 44-year history,” said Kevin Kirk, associate vice president for enrollment management. “The TEG makes college a financial reality for many of our students coming from all over the state of Texas. We made the trip to Austin to say ‘thank you’ to the representatives and senators for their support and to encourage their continued support in the future.”

HPU student delegates included Allen Andrus, a senior from Anson; Kathryn Barrackman, a senior from Houston; Colton McCabe, a sophomore from Gatesville; Courtney Officer, a sophomore from Stephenville; Erik Swenson, a junior from Carrollton; and Brogan Turner, a freshman from Brownwood. The students were accompanied by Kevin Kirk and Yvonne Lundy, executive assistant to the associate vice president for enrollment management.

“The Tuition Equalization Grant has helped to further not only my intellectual education, but my spiritual education,” said Colton McCabe. “It was a privilege to thank my representative and senator in person for their support of this program.”

Approximately 275 Howard Payne University students received funding through the TEG for the spring 2013 semester.

More than four decades ago, the TEG was created by Dr. Gary R. Price, a 1960 graduate of HPU. Wishing private colleges and universities were more affordable to students in Texas, he developed the concept, wrote the legislation and worked to gain support for it. Sponsored by the late Dr. Lynn Nabers, a fellow HPU alumnus who was then a state representative, the legislation was passed in 1971. Since its inception, the program has assisted needy students to bridge the gap between tuition rates at state and independent institutions.

To be eligible for a TEG, a student must be a qualified Texas resident; establish financial need as defined by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board; be enrolled fulltime in an approved independent college or university in Texas; not receive any form of athletic scholarship; and maintain a 2.5 GPA by the end of the sophomore year.

Additional private universities from the West Texas Region of Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas participating in the trip included Abilene Christian University, Hardin-Simmons University, Lubbock Christian University and McMurry University.

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Photo cutline: HPU delegates give the university “sting ’em” salute in front of the capitol building in Austin. From left are Courtney Officer, Allen Andrus, Brogan Turner, Erik Swenson, Kathryn Barrackman and Colton McCabe.

HPU celebrates Black History Month with special chapel service

black_history_month_chapel_2013_for_webBROWNWOOD – March 27, 2013 – Howard Payne University celebrated Black History Month with a special chapel service held last month. The second annual service focused on the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation signing and the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, in which an estimated 250,000 people demonstrated peacefully in the nation’s capital for civil rights and economic equality. Members of the African-American chapter of HPU’s Alumni Association, alongside current students, presented poetry, music and stories during the service titled “At the Crossroads of Freedom and Equality: The Emancipation Proclamation and the March on Washington.”

The spirited celebration included congregational singing, readings by students and alumni and a powerful solo by Shirley Sanders ’72 of Texas City – which drew a standing ovation from the audience – all with the purpose of educating students about important milestones in our nation’s history related to the journey of African-Americans.

Ne’Lexia Galloway ’11 of San Antonio, president of the African-American alumni chapter, said about the chapel program, “African-American cultural history cannot be defined, but it is our civic duty as African-Americans to spread the history for the betterment of America. I am pleased to know that Howard Payne takes pride in Black History Month and believes in making the student body knowledgeable of America’s history.”

Other program participants included L.J. Clayton ’84 of San Antonio; Deborah Jones ’73 of Texas City; Adelia Kirk ’89 of Brownwood; Carol (Liz) Mahoney ’69 of Texas City; Gladys Murray ’80 of Austin; and Wilbert Rogers ’75 of Dallas. Student participants included Kalari Faultry, a sophomore from Houston; Jennifer Goff, a junior from Austin; Gabriella Guest, a sophomore from Midlothian; Jajuan Johnson, a sophomore from Fort Worth; Amber Jones, a junior from Rosenberg; Miriam Mackey, a junior from Taylor; Jeremy Perkins, a junior from Alexandria, La.; Richard Porche, a sophomore from Kyle; Zacchaeus Steidel-Santiago, a sophomore from San Antonio; and Nicholas Stubblefield, a freshman from Prairie View.

“It was once again a pleasure to work with our African-American alumni chapter on this important chapel celebration,” said Dr. Brent Marsh, vice president for student life and dean of students. “We must never lose sight of the difficult road trodden by the African-American community in our nation’s history, and so it is fitting that we recognize Black History Month in this special way.”

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Photo cutline: HPU sophomore Zacchaeus Steidel-Santiago sings “If I Can Help Somebody” during the university’s second annual Black History Month chapel service. Photo by Jes Miera, HPU junior.

HPU’s Resurrection Week to begin Monday

david_burkBROWNWOOD – March 22, 2013 – Howard Payne University will host Resurrection Week, the university’s annual spring revival, March 25-27. The featured speaker for the week is David Burk, president and founder of Total Surrender Evangelistic Association, Inc., in Arlington. Worship will be led by the Nick Gainey Band. Gainey is a 2008 HPU graduate and the worship pastor and an elder at Connection Community Church in Rowlett.

Services will be held at 10:00 a.m. Monday through Wednesday and 7:30 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday at the university’s Mims Auditorium. All services are open to the public.nick_gainey

“Resurrection Week is going to be a great time of renewal, challenge and worship together,” said Corey Ash, chapel coordinator and director of bands. “I assure you that you will be blessed!”

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Photo cutline: David Burk and Nick Gainey will headline Resurrection Week at Howard Payne University.

HPU names Randy Yeakley as vice president for development

ImageBROWNWOOD – March 4, 2013 – Howard Payne University recently named Randy Yeakley ’83 to the position of vice president for development. He will assume this role on March 18.

Yeakley will oversee the annual fund, programmatic fundraising and other operations at the university’s Harrison House. He will also serve on the Administrative Council.

He joins HPU from LeTourneau University in Longview where he has served as director of research, corporate and foundation giving since 2005. Other experience includes serving as director and manager of the Sabine Valley Center in Longview, as MR crisis services manager at MH/MR of Tarrant County, and as health educator for HMR of Fort Worth.

In addition to a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from HPU, he holds a Master of Science degree in industrial and organizational psychology from Lamar University.

He and his wife, Leslie, also a 1983 HPU graduate, are parents to two sons, Nicholas, 25, and Richard, 22. Leslie, who currently serves as assistant principal at Longview Christian School, will join Randy in Brownwood this summer.

“I’m pleased to have this fine, dedicated individual joining us in our work here at HPU,” said Dr. Bill Ellis, university president.

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Photo cutline: Randy Yeakley, pictured with wife, Leslie, will assume the role of vice president for development at HPU on March 18.

HPU hosts 15th Annual CASL Conference

mike_jorgensen_at_hpu_for_webBROWNWOOD – January 31, 2013 – More than 250 Christian student leaders from nine Baptist universities participated in the 15th Annual Christian Association of Student Leaders (CASL) Conference hosted by Howard Payne University last weekend.

Mike Jorgensen, executive director of I am Second, a ministry of e3 Partners Ministry, spoke at the event. I am Second seeks to inspire a revolution of “second” by helping people learn how to put Jesus first in their lives. In addition to his role with the I am Second project, Jorgensen has served e3 Partners in a variety of capacities including director of operations, vice president of church planting, international vice president and executive vice president. He and his wife of 37 years, Woodlyn, have three children, two of whom graduated from HPU – Alycia (Jorgensen) Darilek ’03, Joanna (Jorgensen) Medlock and Philip Jorgensen ’12.

The theme for this year’s conference was “Do as I Have Done,” which references John 13:15 in which Jesus tells his disciples, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” During one of his lectures on HPU’s campus, Jorgensen took the opportunity to remind students why they were in attendance.

“This conference is not for you,” he said. “It’s for the benefit of the people who God wants to bless through you.”

After the lecture, Jorgensen shared his enthusiasm about the caliber of students with whom he was interacting.

“I’m excited about the potential all of these students have already shown,” he said. “They were chosen to attend this conference because of their leadership skills. As they reflect and interact with other leaders, their potential will flower.”

Social media played a large role in this year’s event. Attendees were encouraged to share photos and thoughts throughout the conference on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Prizes were awarded to the students who interacted the most.

“Looking forward to challenging student leaders @caslconference,” posted Jorgensen on Twitter.
An attendee followed up that he “Had an awesome time at #CASL2013 with some awesome people.”

CASL was chartered in 1998 by the eight Baptist universities in Texas (HPU, Baylor University, Dallas Baptist University, East Texas Baptist University, Hardin-Simmons University, Houston Baptist University, University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and Wayland Baptist University) and is under the sponsorship of the Congregational Leadership Team of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. The conference provides students with the opportunity to network with fellow students from different universities through a variety of activities including seminars, workshops and roundtable discussions. Topics covered this year included “How to Develop New Leaders” and “How to Have the Prayer Life of a Leader.”

HPU students planned the conference under the direction of Dr. Brent Marsh, vice president for student life and dean of students, and Tyler Sellers, associate dean of students and director of student activities. The student planning committee included Kathryn Barrackman, a senior from Houston; Jeremy Bartley, a junior from Brownwood; Shannon Bundy, a junior from Port Aransas; Jacee Cunningham, a senior from Crane; Rick Henderson, a junior from Plainview; Lara Hernandez, a junior from Brownwood; Becky Lamar, a senior from Ovilla; Robin Scofield, a junior from Naples, Fla.; David Stippick, a junior from Brownwood; Ashley Wellborn, a senior from Paradise; and Brandi Wright, a senior from Farmington, N.M.

The worship band included HPU students Alex Caro, a senior from Howe; Dustin Campbell, a senior from Paradise; Taylor Castleberry, a senior from Paradise; and Zacchaeus Miguel Steidel-Santiago, a sophomore from San Antonio.

“We are thrilled to have hosted the 15th annual CASL conference at Howard Payne,” said Dr. Marsh. “The event was a huge success, and our student planning committee did a fantastic job pulling it all together. Conference attendees were challenged and encouraged along their journeys to be Christ-like servant leaders.”

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Photo cutline: Mike Jorgensen, executive director of the I am Second ministry, spoke at the 15th Annual CASL Conference at HPU.

HPU memorializes Colorado victim, announces scholarship at San Antonio Spurs game

cowden_family_for_webBROWNWOOD – November 20, 2012 – Howard Payne University memorialized alumnus Gordon Cowden — a victim of the Aurora, Colo., movie theater shooting — during halftime of the San Antonio Spurs Faith and Family Night game on Saturday, which would have been his 52nd birthday. The university presented a gift to his family and announced the establishment of a $60,000 HPU presidential scholarship in his name.

In addition to the tribute to the Cowden family, Dr. Bill Ellis, HPU president, was named honorary co-captain of the Spurs. The university’s Winds of Triumph ensemble and Clay Tyner, a 2011 HPU graduate, and his band played pre-game. Several HPU alumni and prospective students were also in attendance.

Cowden, a 1984 graduate of the university, was the oldest killed in the Colorado tragedy on July 20. Dr. Ellis presented Cowden’s family and friends with a replica of the “Do As I Have Done” statue that stands on the HPU grounds and announced the establishment of a $60,000 Gordon Ware Cowden Presidential Scholarship to be given to a selected student in Cowden’s name.ellis__honorary_captain_for_web

According to his family, Cowden’s last words were of his love for his daughters who were attending the movie with him.
“His faith and courage in his final moments are inspirational to us all,” said Dr. Ellis. “HPU is blessed to be associated with a man such as Gordon Cowden.”

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Photo cutlines: Family and friends of Gordon Cowden accept an award from HPU in his memory during halftime at Saturday’s San Antonio Spurs game.

HPU President Dr. Bill Ellis, right, was named honorary co-captain before the game.