News Archives: Alumni Relations

HPU mourns passing of alumnus Dr. Gary Price

Howard Payne University mourns the loss of Dr. Gary Price, 1960 HPU graduate, who passed away Monday, August 10, 2015. Please keep his family in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.

The following story was originally published in the summer 2011 issue of the Link, the magazine of Howard Payne University.

Price for Student Aid

Forty years ago, HPU alumnus Dr. Gary Price was the driving force behind the creation of the Tuition Equalization Grant. Today, he looks back on his long crusade for the passage of this landmark legislation.

By Kyle Mize

If you’ve attended Howard Payne University or any other Texas private college or university since the early 1970s, you may owe Dr. Gary Price a word of thanks.

Four decades ago, this 1960 HPU graduate was the architect of the Tuition Equalization Grant (TEG), which helps offset the difference in tuition rates between private and state institutions in the state of Texas. Since its passage by the Texas Legislature in 1971, three quarters of a million grants have been issued to students in Texas, improving access to private higher education. In 2010 alone, more than $101 million was allocated for students in Texas’ participating institutions, with more than $1.5 million benefiting students at HPU.

“For many students, the TEG is the determining factor that makes attendance at a private university possible,” says Glenda Huff ’76, HPU’s director of student aid. “I was one of those students. Shortly after the TEG was legislated, I enrolled at HPU and was the recipient of one of the first TEG awards.

“Gary Price formulated the idea of the TEG, wrote the legislation, obtained support for the program and did not rest until it was signed into law,” Huff continues. “He volunteered his time and expertise to make the TEG happen. He opened the door for hundreds of thousands of needy Texas college students to attend private universities. The TEG’s impact on private higher education in Texas is immeasurable.”

Price, whose service to HPU also includes a 21-year tenure on the university’s Board of Trustees, now enjoys his retirement following a distinguished career in law. He recently reminisced about the creation of the TEG, from his initial concept to the bill’s ultimate passage by the Texas Legislature.

Early Days

Aside from four years in Beaumont as a child and stretches of time spent in Houston and Waco for college, Gary Price has lived in Brownwood his entire life – as did generations of Prices before him.

“My parents were born in Brownwood and my grandparents all lived here from the time they were young children,” he says in his relaxed Texas drawl. “I used to be related to about half the county.”

In 1955, this graduate of Brownwood High School began his freshman year at Howard Payne. Price still recalls the excitement and good feeling prevalent on the campus.

“Everybody was optimistic and the school was growing,” he recalls. “Guy Newman was president. He was a very dynamic personality and had a great relationship with students. Everybody admired him and looked up to him.”

Dr. Guy D. Newman, who served as president from 1955 to 1973, remains one of the towering figures in the university’s history. His years at HPU were highlighted by increased enrollment, numerous campus improvements and the creation of HPU’s nationally recognized Douglas MacArthur Academy of Freedom.

For Price, Dr. Newman’s winning personality and ease with people of all walks of life still vividly come to mind.

“He could mix with the wealthiest people and the most powerful, big-time politicians,” Price remembers. “When he drove down the street, he waved at everybody in every car just like he’d known them all his life.”

Though Price ultimately pursued a career in law, he didn’t have that goal in mind when he entered HPU as a freshman. Soon, however, he gained exposure to two fields that would figure prominently not only in his professional life but also in the creation of what would ultimately become the Tuition Equalization Grant: law and politics.

“We had some legal work done within the family, and I saw lawyers in action and always thought it was interesting,” he recalls. “I’d also watch some guys get into politics.”

Though Price later graduated from Howard Payne, during his sophomore year he transferred to the University of Houston to be near his future wife, Jarene Thomas, who lived there with her family. Though UH is now state-supported, at that time it was a private institution, with higher tuition as a result. When registering for classes, Price was presented with an intriguing financial aid opportunity by a UH staff member.

“She asked, ‘Do you want Junior College Aid?’” he remembers. “I asked, ‘What’s Junior College Aid?’ She said, ‘If you’re a Texas resident and you have fewer than 60 credit hours, the state of Texas will pay part of your tuition. All you have to do is sign this card saying that you’re a Texas resident.’

“I said, ‘Gimme the card, I’ll sign that!’”

Price later returned to HPU and after graduation went on to the Baylor University School of Law in Waco. However, the type of financial aid he was offered at UH remained on his mind. He also recalled an important aid program from even earlier.

“Back in elementary school, when World War II ended, I was eight years old,” he says. “I had at least one cousin and knew lots of other people who went to all kinds of trade schools and colleges on the GI Bill. It was a big deal. It’s what educated America after World War II.”

The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, which became popularly known as the GI Bill, was enacted during World War II to assist veterans as they returned to civilian life. Though a variety of provisions were included, including those for unemployment pay and loans for homes, farms and businesses, the GI Bill is famous for providing funds for education. In 1947, for instance, 49% of the nation’s college enrollment consisted of veterans, according to the GI Bill website.

“I went to Howard Payne as soon as I got out of high school in ’55, and there were still guys from World War II going to college,” Price recalls. “The Korean War ended when I was a sophomore in high school, and you had a whole generation of those guys going. So I knew a lot of people who were going to school on the GI Bill. It was not an aid to Howard Payne or Baylor – it was an aid to that GI.

“And I thought, ‘Well, my folks and I pay taxes, and we’re helping educate people going to state schools,” he says. “Wouldn’t it be a good idea if there was something to help students attend private schools?”

Getting Started

Throughout his experiences attending Baylor’s School of Law, Price continued to ponder the prospect of the state of Texas making funds available to help students attend private colleges and universities, helping reduce the tuition differences between those and state-supported institutions. He took the law training he was receiving and used it to develop his financial aid concept. For example, though many private colleges and universities are operated by or affiliated with religious denominations, the type of aid Price had in mind would avoid any potential controversies over the separation of church and state. With his plan, the public funding would support the individual student, not the institution – just as the GI Bill had done.

Gary Price 2 for webA friend from Price’s Brownwood days also attended law school at Baylor. The late Lynn Nabers, a 1962 HPU graduate, would figure prominently into Price’s plans for the new aid program.

After Price completed his work at Baylor’s School of Law, earning a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree in 1965, he and his wife moved back home to Brownwood, where Price began his law career. Two years later, Nabers earned his J.D. degree and soon decided to run for a state representative position – the seat in the Texas House of Representatives recently vacated by Ben Barnes, who was to become Texas’ lieutenant governor.

Price recalls a chance meeting with Nabers in Austin.

“When he was running for office, I ran into him on the steps of the courthouse,” Price says. “I told him briefly about this idea I had. He said ‘I can’t see the legislature passing something that would help pay the cost of college for all those rich kids in private schools.’ I said, ‘Well, I’ve been to three of ’em, and I’ve never seen too many rich kids. And anyway, how about the GI Bill? That was for everybody.’

“And he said, ‘Well, that’s right.’”

After Nabers received his party’s nomination, Price sent a letter to Lieutenant Governor-Elect Ben Barnes with copies to Nabers, Dr. Newman at HPU, key personnel at Baylor and the publisher of the Brownwood Bulletin. The letter informed them of Price’s intentions to find someone in the state’s House of Representatives to sponsor a bill providing grants to students attending Texas’ private colleges and universities.

“Lynn called me and said, ‘I’ll sponsor it if you want me to,’” Price says.

By now, Price had thoroughly developed his proposal. Through his research, he documented how Texas would actually save money. The state would provide grants to Texas residents attending private colleges and universities in amounts of roughly half what it cost the state to educate students at public institutions. By increasing access to private higher education, the plan would save additional state funds through the reduction of costs for instruction and new facilities at state schools as population increased. Texas would also see long-term benefits as a larger number of college graduates would ultimately contribute more to the state’s economy.

After Nabers was elected, the two met to review Price’s draft of what he then called the Tuition Equalization Act. Price recalls the bill’s first steps in the legislative process and one particular first impression.

“I talked to Lynn about the bill and showed him all the reasons for it, arguments for it, and he took it down to the Legislative Budget Board,” Price recalls. “They redrafted the bill and when they were doing it the guy said, ‘You know, this reminds me of Junior College Aid at the University of Houston.’ Lynn told me that and I said, ‘Well, that’s partly where I got the idea for it.’”

Through the course of the next year, Price would periodically call Nabers to check on the bill’s progress – or, more accurately, lack of progress.

“I’d call Lynn and I’d say, ‘Well, what’s happening?’” Price remembers. “He’d say, ‘Well, it’s in the committee. I can’t really find any opposition to it but if you can’t get it out of the committee…’”

Then one day Nabers and Price received an invitation to attend a meeting of Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas (ICUT), to be held on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Incorporated in 1965, ICUT works to advance the cause of the state’s private institutions of higher education and represents this network to the state’s lawmakers. The upcoming meeting would be attended by presidents, trustees and other representatives from a variety of private colleges and universities across the state.

When Nabers called Price to ask if he was interested in attending, Price eagerly accepted the opportunity to present his proposal to such an influential audience. He had already compiled a set of packets containing his plan and financial estimates and sent them to each of the presidents of ICUT’s member institutions.

Price and Nabers set off for Dallas, eager to build support for the Tuition Equalization Act. However, they discovered that the long meeting and full agenda would give them little opportunity to make their case.

“We were at this meeting, and they were about to dismiss, and we hadn’t been able to say anything,” Price says. “A president of a Catholic school said, ‘I received this packet in the mail from Mr. Price. I’d like to hear from him about these grants.’ And then a bunch of others spoke up, ‘I got it too, and I’m interested in it. I’d like to hear about it.’”

Price seized the chance to share about his plan. His presentation was well-received, but the meeting’s presiding officer, a college president, offered a dissenting opinion.

“When I sat down,” Price recalls, “he said, ‘I know Mr. Price’s bill sounds good, but I used to work for the Legislative Budget Board of the Texas Legislature and I can assure you: Nothing like that will ever pass.’”

Undeterred, Price and Nabers took their case to Lt. Gov. Barnes. He listened to their proposal, responded favorably and made a couple of phone calls: one to ask a state senator to sponsor the bill in the Senate and another to ask Dr. Bevington Reed, chairman of the state’s College Coordinating Board, to independently verify the proposal’s figures. Barnes set up a meeting for Reed to hear what Price and Nabers had to say.

Price was confident in his research, but was nonetheless apprehensive about the prospect of the bill being sidetracked by another round of official inspection and evaluation. The fact that Dr. Reed presided in Austin, home not only to the state capitol but also to The University of Texas, only added to Price’s fears.

“I’d heard that there’d been a school paper at UT that had been opposed to the TEG,” Price remembers. “The paper said, ‘There shouldn’t be one dime for those students going to private colleges until our requests have been 100% funded. When everything we want has been taken care of, then okay.’

“So I thought, ‘He’s sitting down here in the middle of Austin. Of all the colleges in the state of Texas, he’s going to be a UT guy – he’s not going to care about private schools.’”

Price and Nabers were in for a surprise.

“When we walked in there,” Price recalls, “Dr. Reed stuck out his hand and said, ‘How’s my old friend Guy Newman? He’s always trying to get me to come to Brownwood. I’ve only been there one time since I graduated from Daniel Baker College.’

“And I thought, ‘THANK YOU, LORD!’”

Price was stunned. Not only was Dr. Reed not a UT graduate, but he was a graduate of Daniel Baker College, the Presbyterian institution in Brownwood that had merged with Howard Payne in 1953. And best of all, he was a friend of Dr. Guy D. Newman, HPU’s president.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Price says, laughing. “He was so nice and friendly. He said, ‘Tell me about it.’ At the end, he said, ‘I can tell you, I’ve heard every kind of proposal you can think of, and that’s the most practical, the best one I’ve ever heard of. We’ll go to work on it.’”

After the meeting with Dr. Reed, Price and Nabers went to see the state senator who had been contacted by Lt. Gov. Barnes.

“He said, ‘I’ll introduce it because Ben asked me to, but it ain’t gonna pass,’” Price remembers.

Time would tell.

Moment of Truth

The final report on the proposed Tuition Equalization Act was forwarded to Lynn Nabers in early 1969. The bill didn’t make it through the committee process in time for the legislature’s session that year. The next year also passed without a decision. Price still remembers how he felt when the bill was reintroduced in 1971.

“I was scared to death,” he says. “Lynn called me and said, ‘Come down to Austin. I think they’re going to vote on it in the House today.’ So I went down there and sat up in the gallery.”

As private universities had gotten more involved in supporting the bill, it had been revised so that grants would be awarded based on need.

“When I introduced it, it was for all students,” Price says. “Like the GI Bill was aid to GIs because they were GIs, this is aid to Texas residents because they’re Texas residents, and they’re taxpayers. But two years later when it got introduced, it was limited to people who had financial need. They said, ‘It can’t ever pass otherwise.’”

That day in Austin, Price watched one of the representatives propose another amendment, this time to prevent students who receive athletic scholarships from receiving TEG funding. This amendment also passed.

“Then there were other things going on down there,” Price recalls, “so Lynn went over and grabbed that microphone. He did a super job. An absolutely super job. That ended it, they voted, it passed by a landslide and then passed a week or two later in the Senate by a landslide. That was it.”

Even with the two changes, limiting funds to students with financial need and who receive no athletic scholarships, the Tuition Equalization Grant has gone on to make an incalculable impact by improving access to private higher education in Texas. In each year since the bill became law, the Texas Legislature has appropriated funds for the TEG program. This funding has then been distributed by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, providing direct assistance to selected students who meet the TEG program’s criteria.

While other states now have similar programs, to the best of Price’s knowledge Texas was the first. Thinking back over the sequence of events that took the TEG from his earliest concept to its final passage, Price is grateful for the experiences that helped make it possible.

“I’m glad that all those events happened, because if those circumstances hadn’t existed, I would never have just dreamed it up out of the clear blue,” he says. “Somebody might have, but I wouldn’t have. If I hadn’t gone to Howard Payne, if I hadn’t lived in Brownwood, if I hadn’t been at the age to hear about people going on the GI Bill after World War II and Korea, if I hadn’t gone to the University of Houston, if I hadn’t gone to law school at Baylor, it would have never happened.”

In the decades since the TEG’s creation, Price maintained a private practice and served variously as county attorney and district attorney while participating in a wide range of civic organizations in Brownwood. On the 20th and 30th anniversaries of the TEG bill’s passage, he was presented proclamations by the Texas Legislature in continuing recognition of his landmark achievement. In December 2010, in appreciation of his work on the TEG and other accomplishments, HPU awarded him the honorary Doctor of Humanities degree, the highest honor the university can bestow.

Through the years, Price has been surprised by occasional expressions of appreciation for his role in the TEG’s creation so many years ago.

“We were taking depositions over at the office one day, and took a recess for a minute,” he recalls. “A young lawyer came back in and said, ‘I owe you a debt of gratitude.’ Well, I was thinking about depositions for the lawsuit, so I asked, ‘About what?’

“He said, ‘I see you were responsible for the TEG, and I went to college and law school both on that.’

“And the other guy sitting there looked up and said, ‘Me too.’”

Now enjoying an active retirement, he still considers the process of creating the TEG one of the most gratifying experiences of his life.

“It was fun, it was interesting to do it and I met a lot of interesting people,” he summarizes, pensively. “And obviously, just knowing that that many people have gotten grants … There had to be many thousands of them who would never have gone to college otherwise. And college changes anybody’s life.”


HPU hosts BGCT’s Super Summer camp for Texas youth

super summer 2015 for webBROWNWOOD – July 21, 2015 – Howard Payne University recently hosted the Baptist General Convention of Texas’ Super Summer camp, a weeklong event designed to foster leadership skills in young Christians. In addition to hundreds of Texas youth, approximately 65 HPU alumni, students, faculty and staff members participated in the camp.

Youth ministers from churches across the state – 18 of them HPU alumni or graduate students – brought students to the camp. Additional Super Summer camps are hosted by other Texas Baptist universities throughout the summer.

At least nine of the young people who attended HPU’s Super Summer will start classes at the university in the fall.

Camp youth are divided into schools, designated by colors, based on their ages. This year, HPU was one of only two universities to also include a Purple School, which provides preparation for students who feel called to vocational Christian ministry. Dr. Rusty Wheelington, associate professor of Christian studies at HPU, served as dean of the Purple School.

“Spending a week with some of the best youth ministers and students across the state is always encouraging and a blessing,” said Dr. Wheelington. “This year we even had one student from Haiti. Super Summer is a week of intense teaching and training to help students become more effective leaders, disciples and sharers of the Gospel in their schools, communities and homes.”

According to Dr. Gary Gramling ’81, professor of Christian studies and director of HPU’s Christian studies graduate programs, other students also recognized God calling them to ministry throughout the week.

“I met two students who were not a part of Purple School who sensed during the week that God is calling them to vocational Christian ministry,” he said. “What a privilege for HPU to host such a week where God is at work in the hearts of so many students. I can’t imagine anything that would bring greater joy to the hearts of those who founded our university than to know the campus is being used for such events.”

Chuck Gartman ’72, adjunct instructor in HPU’s School of Christian Studies and minister of education/leadership development at Field Street Baptist Church in Cleburne, served as dean of Super Summer’s Leadership Forum at HPU.

“Howard Payne’s Leadership Forum at Super Summer continues to be a breath of fresh air for me personally as I facilitate this process,” he said. “Leaders have the opportunity to hear from some of our state’s best youth leaders and are also able to express concerns or sources of praise in their own settings. I’m privileged to be a part of this great opportunity for youth leaders around our state.”

Natalie Stary ’03, HPU admission counselor, coordinated HPU’s camp this year.

“Super Summer has had a huge impact on Baptist students for more than 40 years,” she said. “Super Summer at HPU will always be special to me because I attended as a student 19 years ago.”

It was during that time, Stary said, she felt called to ministry and to become a student at HPU.

“I feel very honored to get to now serve in a leadership role with the planning and implementation of Super Summer at Howard Payne,” she said. “The Lord continues to use Super Summer and HPU to train up future generations of Texas Baptists for His service locally and around the world.”


Photo cutline: Super Summer campers gather near HPU’s Old Main Tower.

HPU alumna Dr. Henrietta Grooms honored by Tyler ISD

BROWNWOOD – June 26, 2015 – Dr. Henrietta Grooms, a Howard Payne University alumna and professional educator for 37 years, was recently honored by the Tyler Independent School District. The ISD named career pathway wings in its new Career and Technology Center in recognition of three educators, including Dr. Grooms.

Dr. Grooms received both her Bachelor of Music Education (1956) and Master of Education (1958) degrees from HPU before earning a Doctor of Education degree from the University of Georgia in 1967.

A plaque recognizing her achievements states the wing is “named in honor of her innovative leadership as a lifetime educator and volunteer.”

The plaque goes on to state that Dr. Grooms has impacted thousands of students within Tyler ISD and the community through her roles as teacher, principal, central administrator, consultant for the Texas Education Agency and volunteer. Since retiring as assistant superintendent for instruction, she continues to influence students in the community through volunteer work with the Literacy Council of Tyler and The Salvation Army.

In 1992, she was presented the Distinguished Graduate award from HPU’s School of Education and she received HPU’s Medal of Service award during the university’s Homecoming festivities in 1997. Her husband, Dr. Randall Grooms, is a former member of HPU’s Board of Trustees.

“Dr. Grooms is indeed a living testimony of exactly what the School of Education at Howard Payne University strives to accomplish – producing the very best prepared Christian educators for service in the public schools of Texas,” said Dr. Michael Rosato, dean of HPU’s School of Education. “It is both exciting and encouraging to see her obedience to God’s call on her life and how He has continued to use her through many distinguished years of service. We celebrate with Dr. Grooms for this wonderful recognition which she so rightly deserves.”


Photo cutline: HPU alumna Dr. Henrietta Grooms was among three educators recently honored by Tyler ISD. She is pictured during the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the ISD’s new Career and Technology Center.

HPU graduates 133 at the close of the spring 2015 semester

spring 2015 commencement for webBROWNWOOD – June 11, 2015 – Howard Payne University graduated 133 students during the university’s Commencement exercises at the close of the spring 2015 semester. Dr. Bill Ellis, university president, and other university representatives conferred the degrees.

Students must have a 3.55-3.69 grade-point average to graduate Cum Laude, a 3.70-3.84 GPA to graduate Magna Cum Laude and a 3.85-4.0 GPA to graduate Summa Cum Laude.

Graduates included:

Taryn Tynille Massey – Bachelor of Science in psychology
Ryan Cade Smith – Bachelor of Science in biology, Cum Laude

James David Timm – Bachelor of Science in exercise and sport science (physical education)

Larissa K. Lynskey – Bachelor of Science in biology, Summa Cum Laude

Samuel Storm Marich-Edwan – Bachelor of Arts in practical theology, Cum Laude

Brennan C. Johnson – Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences in business administration

Shane M. Kendell – Master of Education in instructional leadership

Kaitlin Nicole Vernon – Bachelor of Arts in history (high school: grade 8-grade 12 certification), Cum Laude

Conner Trent Fisher – Bachelor of Science in biology, Cum Laude
Katherine Joyce Licce – Bachelor of Music in music – instrumental (all-level certification), Magna Cum Laude

Big Spring
Ethan Michael Yeats – Bachelor of Music in music – instrumental (all-level certification), Summa Cum Laude

Trevor Christopher Ray – Bachelor of Science in business administration
Cullan Ross Tidwell – Bachelor of Science in biology, Magna Cum Laude

Allison Victoria Eaton – Bachelor of Science in psychology, Cum Laude

Allyson Nicole Adams – Bachelor of Science in athletic training
Michael Gene Bannister – Bachelor of Science in computer information systems, Summa Cum Laude
Susan Lynn Baugh – Master of Education in instructional leadership
Nicholas Calvin Bennie – Bachelor of Arts in the Honors Academy and psychology (counseling/clinical), Cum Laude
Melissa R. Bernal – Bachelor of Arts in Spanish
Joan Davina Burks – Bachelor of Science in athletic training
Shelby Nicole Byrd – Bachelor of Science in elementary education (early childhood – grade 6)
Crystal Faith Carter – Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences in criminal justice
Chasity Dawn Cartwright – Bachelor of Arts in English language arts and reading (high school: grade 8-12), Magna Cum Laude
Dustin Jayme Crager – Bachelor of Music in music – instrumental (all-level certification), Magna Cum Laude
Sarah Ashley Crager – Bachelor of Music in music – choral (all-level certification), Cum Laude
Stephanie Baldwin Ddughdhnemimnier – Master of Business Administration in business administration
Raymundo Delgado – Bachelor of Science in business administration
Tyler Beau Dixon – Bachelor of Arts in history
Ethan Lynn Fisher – Master of Business Administration in business administration
Justin Allen Fisher – Bachelor of Science in chemistry (biochemistry concentration), Summa Cum Laude
Amanda Carlie Gober – Bachelor of Science in psychology (family psychology), Cum Laude
Aaron Albert Gomez – Bachelor of Science in exercise and sport science (personal trainer)
Meagan Elizabeth Hall – Bachelor of Arts in English, Summa Cum Laude
Kalin Alana Hanna – Bachelor of Business Administration in management
Michael Jeffrey Harmon – Bachelor of Arts in studio art, Magna Cum Laude
Matthew James Hazelwood – Bachelor of Music in music – church music (vocal)
Amelia M. Iafrate – Bachelor of Science in psychology
Megan Michele Irwin – Bachelor of Music in music – instrumental (all-level certification), Cum Laude
Leslie Gerald King – Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences in general studies
Natali Monique Maldonado – Bachelor of Business Administration in management
Kensey Dena Martinez – Bachelor of Science in elementary education (early childhood – grade 6)
Shauntel Charity McGlothin – Bachelor of Science in elementary education (early childhood – grade 6)
Gavin James Middleton – Bachelor of Science in criminal justice
Justin Shane Moore – Bachelor of Science in biology
Kristin Maike Musgrove – Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences in general studies
Larisa Nicole Salazar – Bachelor of Science in biology
Stormy San Miguel – Bachelor of Business Administration in accounting
Taylor McKay Snow – Bachelor of Science in family studies
Shandi Denise Winstead – Bachelor of Science in communication (public and media communication)
Joshua Blain Woods – Bachelor of Arts in youth ministry, Magna Cum Laude
Dustin Eugene Wright – Bachelor of Arts in youth ministry

Blake Tyler Arbogast – Bachelor of Science in exercise and sport science (all-level certification)

Canton, Ga.
Elizabeth Anne Perez – Master of Education in instructional leadership

Cedar Park
Ethan Zachary West – Bachelor of Science in the Honors Academy, political science/prelaw and business administration, Magna Cum Laude

Copperas Cove
Anthony Dane Bryant – Bachelor of Arts in criminal justice

Corpus Christi
Marcos Jeffrey Corley – Bachelor of Arts in criminal justice

Carl Jacob Bromley – Bachelor of Arts in biblical languages

Deer Park
Shelby Renee Bridges – Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences in criminal justice

Clarissa Leigh Toler – Bachelor of Arts in Bible, Cum Laude

Jacqueline Rose Ebarb – Master of Business Administration in business administration
Dacia D’Shea Griffin – Bachelor of Science in biology, Summa Cum Laude
Holly Denise Jessup – Bachelor of Science in exercise and sport science (personal trainer)
Lillian Murselle McMillan – Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences in Christian studies (composite concentration), Summa Cum Laude
Joanne Jeanette Melton – Bachelor of Science in exercise and sport science (all-level certification), Cum Laude
Christine Nicole Salmon – Bachelor of Music in music – performance (voice concentration)

El Paso
Jesus Arturo Barraza – Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences in general studies
Evelyn Lillian Escobar – Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences in criminal justice
Laura Jean Flores – Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences in business administration, Magna Cum Laude
Corinne Holguin – Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences in business management

Erie, Colo.
Hannah Elizabeth Jansen – Bachelor of Arts in communication (public and media communication), Summa Cum Laude

Eufaula, Okla.
Erin E. McLeod – Bachelor of Science in biology

Fort Worth
Michelle Danielle Bates – Bachelor of Science in psychology (counseling/clinical)
Brandon Lee Gould – Bachelor of Science in computer information systems (systems development)

Allisha Janine McClure – Bachelor of Arts in political science/prelaw

Will Orion Roberts – Bachelor of Business Administration in marketing, Cum Laude

Amanda Ruth Driggers – Bachelor of Science in the Honors Academy and psychology, Magna Cum Laude

Marlie Amanda Austin – Bachelor of Arts in the Honors Academy and psychology, Cum Laude

Janakay Frances Oliver – Bachelor of Science in elementary education (early childhood – grade 6)

Jaime Leann Swanner – Bachelor of Science in mathematics (middle school: grade 4-8 certification), Magna Cum Laude

Randy Gene Miller – Master of Education in instructional leadership

Samuel Christopher Allen – Bachelor of Arts in criminal justice

Luke Ravel Kilmartin – Master of Arts in youth ministry

Jared Thomas Russell – Bachelor of Arts in theatre arts (all-level certification)

David Kevin Williams – Bachelor of Science in forensic science

Kaleigh Jo Tankersley – Bachelor of Arts in communication (public and media communication), Magna Cum Laude

Kevin Benjamin Domingue – Bachelor of Science in mathematics (high school: grade 8-12 certification), Cum Laude

Allyson Michelle Gainey – Bachelor of Science in elementary education (early childhood – grade 6), Summa Cum Laude
Trent Cameron Gainey – Bachelor of Arts in biblical languages and English, Cum Laude

Brittany Morgan Cavness – Bachelor of Business Administration in management, Magna Cum Laude
Jennifer Lynn Hilla – Bachelor of Music in music – choral (all-level certification), Summa Cum Laude

Brittany Dianne Roberson – Bachelor of Science in exercise and sport science (physical education)
Sondra Rena Todd – Bachelor of Science in exercise and sport science (coaching)

Katie Rose Bonner – Bachelor of Arts in the Honors Academy, history and political science/prelaw, Summa Cum Laude

Desarai Lynn Beatty – Bachelor of Arts in psychology (family psychology)
Samuel Rodriguez Garcia – Bachelor of Science in athletic training
Nicole Mariah Nehf – Bachelor of Arts in the Honors Academy, Spanish and political science/prelaw

Jeffri Cathleen Foster – Master of Arts in theology and ministry

Connor John Roberts – Bachelor of Business Administration in accounting

North Richland Hills
Sean David Locker – Bachelor of Arts in cross-cultural studies

New Braunfels
Brandon Tye Davis – Master of Business Administration in business administration
James Brian Scardami – Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences in business administration

New London, Mo.
Allison Ann Ninedorf – Bachelor of Science in the Honors Academy and psychology, Magna Cum Laude

Rachel Catherine Runnels – Bachelor of Arts in communication (public and media communication)

Christopher Glen Mitchell – Bachelor of Arts in the Honors Academy and political science/prelaw, Summa Cum Laude

Burke Clifton Edwards – Bachelor of Business Administration in management, Cum Laude

Jorden Alexander Young – Bachelor of Science in exercise and sport science (all-level certification)

Richland Springs
Lisa Danae Baker – Bachelor of Science in elementary education (early childhood – grade 6)

Rising Star
Emily Louise Murphree – Bachelor of Science in biology
Dale Ross Self – Bachelor of Science in biology

Cameron Joseph Garcia – Bachelor of Science in exercise and sport science (personal trainer)

Roseville, Calif.
Brandon Mitchell Yost – Bachelor of Arts in practical theology

Round Rock
Kyle Edward Kulczyk – Master of Business Administration in business administration

Adrianna Nicole Perez – Bachelor of Arts in political science/prelaw and criminal justice, Cum Laude

Paul Jefferson Warren – Bachelor of Arts in the Honors Academy and cross-cultural studies, Magna Cum Laude

San Angelo
Cara Ann DeLoach – Bachelor of Arts in the Honors Academy, English and political science, Summa Cum Laude

San Antonio
Victoria Rene Krawczynski – Bachelor of Arts in communication (organizational and leadership communication), Summa Cum Laude

San Saba
Marshal Lynn McIntosh – Bachelor of Science in communication (public and media communication), Cum Laude

Santa Anna
Shelbie Paige Deleon – Bachelor of Business Administration in accounting

Ashley Paige Krueger Sullivan – Bachelor of Arts in music – instrumental

Colette Cailin Wilcoxen – Bachelor of Arts in psychology

Dustin James Kelver – Bachelor of Business Administration in management

Tifnee Lea Reed – Master of Education in instructional leadership
Bryson Taylor Wallace – Bachelor of Arts in Bible

Miriam Myeisha Mackey – Master of Arts in youth ministry

Morgan Blair Marriott – Bachelor of Arts in communication (public and media communication)

Jack Burton Wells – Bachelor of Arts in Christian education, Cum Laude

John Curtis Elmore – Bachelor of Science in exercise and sport science (exercise and sport management)

Dillon Layne McDugle – Bachelor of Science in exercise and sport science (all-level certification)

Universal City
Michael Carroll Watford – Bachelor of Science in computer information systems (multimedia)

Nicole Ann Bird – Bachelor of Business Administration in accounting

Katelyn Marie Wood – Master of Business Administration in business administration

Randy Scott Jackson – Master of Arts in youth ministry

Lacy Harrison Culpepper – Bachelor of Business Administration in management (finance emphasis), Summa Cum Laude


Photo cutline: HPU graduated 132 students at the close of the spring 2015 semester.

HPU alumnus Dr. Juan Andrade named a “Chicagoan of the Year”

Dr Juan Andrade Jr for webBROWNWOOD – January 30, 2015 – Dr. Juan Andrade Jr., a 1970 Howard Payne University graduate, was recently named a “Chicagoan of the Year (2014)” by Chicago Magazine. Originally from Brownwood, Dr. Andrade serves as president of the Chicago-based United States Hispanic Leadership Institute (USHLI).

After graduating from HPU, Dr. Andrade went on to complete a master’s degree at Antioch College in Ohio, doctoral and education specialist degrees from Northern Illinois University and a post-doctorate master’s degree from Loyola University Chicago. HPU awarded Dr. Andrade an honorary doctor of humanities degree in 1999, one of five he has received to date.

The USHLI is one of the most powerful and recognized Latino organizations in the country, organizing and conducting nonpartisan voter registration and leadership development programs in 40 states. According to the organization, Dr. Andrade is the fourth of only five Latinos in history to be decorated by the President of the United States (Bill Clinton) “for the performance of exemplary deeds of service for the nation” and “promoting leadership and civic participation.” He also received the Ohtli Award from the government of Mexico, the nation’s highest honor presented to a civilian not living in Mexico.

Dr. Andrade remains a staunch supporter of HPU. In 1974, he founded the Dr. José Rivas Memorial Scholarship Fund and in 2001 created the Hispanic Alumni Fellowship Scholarship Fund to assist Hispanic students attending the university.

“Dr. Andrade’s continuous support of HPU is a blessing to the university, and we’re exceedingly proud of his accomplishments,” said Dr. Bill Ellis, president.

In a video produced by Chicago Magazine, Dr. Andrade said his career has been a great journey.

“I couldn’t have dreamed a dream bigger than what I’m living today,” he said.

He encourages young people to pursue their own dreams while reaching out to others.

“Servant leadership is not about how high you can climb,” he said. “It’s how wide you can reach. If we let our dreams drive our vision, we can be about the business of reaching far and wide. We can get our arms around as many people as we can and lift them up rather than just trying to elevate ourselves to the highest point possible.”


Photo cutline: Dr. Juan Andrade Jr., 1970 HPU alumnus, was recently named a “Chicagoan of the Year” by Chicago Magazine.

HPU to celebrate Black History Month with special Chapel service

BROWNWOOD – January 30, 2015 – Howard Payne University will celebrate the lives and achievements of African-Americans during the past 100 years at a Black History Recognition Chapel service on Wednesday, February 4, at 10 a.m. The service, to be held in the university’s Mims Auditorium, is hosted each year in honor of Black History Month.

HPU students and members of the HPU African-American Alumni Association will be the primary participants and act as narrators for the presentation. Alexandra Galloway ’11 serves as the association’s president. The program is written and directed by Wilbert Rogers ’75. Gladys Murray ’79 serves as the assistant coordinator and technical specialist.

The program will celebrate significant events and accomplishments from each decade, including a special remembrance of the 50th anniversary of the historic march from Selma to Montgomery.

“We’re very thankful for the leadership of Mr. Rogers and Mrs. Murray in developing an educational, creative, and inspiring program for our campus community,” said Dr. Magen Bunyard, vice president for student life and dean of students.

HPU honors 11 during Alumni and Sports Hall of Fame Banquet

BROWNWOOD – November 12, 2014 – As part of its Homecoming 2014 festivities, Howard Payne University recognized 11 individuals for their contributions to the university and beyond during the annual Alumni and Sports Hall of Fame Banquet.

This year’s honorees included Dr. Thomas Collins ’96, Distinguished Alumnus; Dr. Hilary B. Graves ’50, Distinguished Alumnus; Benjamin E. Hoover ’03, Outstanding Young Graduate; Marilynn Bock Jackson ’73, Coming Home Queen; Leo ’50 and Jane ’52 Lacey, Medal of Service; Dr. Ray ’50 and Nancy ’48 Ellis, Grand Marshals; Meia Daniels ’08, Sports Hall of Fame; Chris Kielsmeier, Sports Hall of Fame; and Dr. Don Newbury ’61, Sports Hall of Fame.

Drs. Bill and Diana Ellis, HPU president and first lady, presented each honoree with a trophy recognizing their accomplishments.

“I was very pleased to help recognize these individuals who have all contributed greatly to society,” said Dr. Bill Ellis. “They make the university proud.”

Collins banquet for web

Dr. Thomas Collins graduated from HPU in 1996 before going on to receive his medical degree from The University of Texas Medical School at Houston in 2000. He has since held a large number of professional and academic positions.

Dr. Collins currently serves at University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics in a variety of roles including the transplant fellowship program director for the Division of Transplant and Hepatobiliary Surgery, director of liver transplant for the Organ Transplant Center, director of procedural skills and simulation and clinical associate professor of surgery.

In addition to being named an Outstanding Young Graduate by HPU in 2006, Dr. Collins received the Webber Prize for Student Research in 1997 from The University of Texas Medical School at Houston. Additionally, he has published a number of book chapters and peer-reviewed papers.

Graves banquet for web

Dr. Hilary B. Graves came to Howard Payne College in 1947 after being called by God to preach. He graduated in 1950 at the same time as his wife, Ruth. He then graduated from Southwestern Theological Seminary in Fort Worth. While attending both Howard Payne and Southwestern, he pastored small community colleges around Brownwood and Fort Worth. He subsequently completed his doctorate in theology at Trinity University in Evanston, Indiana.

Dr. Graves pastored churches in Texas and southwestern Oklahoma throughout his long ministry. Additionally, he has preached in revivals throughout the Southwest, led crusades in California, Oregon and Washington and preached in crusades in Spain, Germany, The Netherlands, Australia and Hong Kong.

Dr. Graves’ first wife, Ruth, passed away in 1980 and Mildred, his second wife, passed away in 2000. After marrying his current wife, Jo Ann, in 2001, the couple felt called to home mission work in Vermont. There they pastored one church and started two others between 2002 and 2008.

Dr. Graves has three children – Ben (who graduated from HPU in 1974), Phoi and Tori.

Hoover banquet for web

Benjamin E. Hoover was the first of three brothers to graduate from HPU. While at the university, Hoover participated in the Student Government Association. He graduated from HPU in 2003 and went on to law school at Texas Tech University.

After graduation, Hoover served as an assistant district attorney with the Wichita County District Attorney’s Office from 2006 to 2012 before moving into private practice at The Nix Law Firm in Wichita Falls. He is past president of the Wichita County Bar Association and was elected to the Wichita Falls City Council in May 2013.

Hoover’s wife, Meagan, is a labor and delivery nurse at United Regional Hospital and the couple has two young children, Grant and Blair.

Jackson parade for web

Before going on to a lengthy career with the university, Marilynn Bock Jackson graduated Summa Cum Laude from Howard Payne in 1973 with a degree in psychology and minor in sociology. She subsequently earned a master’s degree from Abilene Christian University in 1976.

Jackson has had many roles at HPU including associate professor of psychology, director of testing, director of counseling and director of career services. Additionally, she served as the community counselor for First Baptist Church of Brownwood, area churches and disadvantaged members of the community.

She served as secretary of HPU’s Retired Personnel Association and has served on the boards of numerous community organizations including the Brown County United Way, the Heart of Texas Brown Baptist Association Task Force, the Executive Board of Good Samaritan Ministries and more.

Jackson is a volunteer and past president of the Auxiliary at the Brownwood Regional Hospital; a regular speaker for Christian Women’s Job Corps; and the Good Samaritan volunteer coordinator for First Baptist Church of Brownwood.

She was married in 1957 to William Donald Jackson, now deceased. The couple has two children, Stephen Lee Jackson and Laurie Jackson Sellers.

Laceys halftime for web

Leo and Jane (Black) Lacey first met at Howard Payne in 1950 though they did not marry until 1988. Leo enrolled at the university in 1946 and was a letterman on the Yellow Jacket track team from 1948 to 1950. The lettermen of the 1948 team were honored during the Homecoming celebrations 60 years later in 2008. Among other accomplishments at Howard Payne, he was president of his senior class and a member of Future Teachers of America and the first Veterans Club.

Following graduation, he spent one year teaching and coaching before his life changed direction and he began a 39-year career with Texaco, Inc. (now Chevron-Texaco). His wife passed away in June 1986. At HPU late the next year, he reconnected with Jane Black, who had also recently lost her spouse. The pair renewed their relationship and were married in May 1988.

During her Howard Payne days, Jane (Black) Lacey was a yell leader and writer for the Yellow Jacket student newspaper. Among other accomplishments, she was named to the Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities list, the Who’s Who on Campus list and was a member of the Jacket Coeds and Alpha Chi. She was honored as the Coming Home Queen in 2001.

The Laceys have four children from their previous marriages: Tom Turman, Dick Turman, Debbie (Lacey) Owen and Michael Lacey (deceased). They also have seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Ellises parade for web

Dr. Ray and Nancy (Greer) Ellis met as students at Howard Payne during a debate tournament on the campus of Abilene Christian University. They fell in love and married a year later. Returning from war, he received his master’s and doctoral degrees while she taught school.

The couple moved to Abilene when Dr. Ellis began teaching New Testament and Greek at Hardin-Simmons University. He later became dean of graduate studies at HSU and retired from the university in 1993 after 36 years.

When their children were older, Mrs. Ellis entered HSU, earning her master’s degree in education. She was the associational president of the Woman’s Missionary Union for six years, an organization comprised of 48 Baptist churches in Taylor and Callahan Counties. Additionally, she teaches a women’s Sunday School Class at First Baptist Church of Abilene.

Among other roles in the community, she is an emeriti member of the Abilene Woman’s Club, past president of the Hardin-Simmons Round Table and the Twenty-One clubs, and a member of the Abilene Harmony Club and the American Association of University Women. She is also a member of the HPU Woman’s Club and serves on the Board of Development at HSU.

The couple has three children – Bill, Bob and Nancy. Dr. Bill Ellis is president of HPU; Dr. Bob Ellis is associate dean of Logsdon Seminary at HSU; and Dr. Nancy (Ellis) Kucinski holds the position her father once held, dean of graduate studies at HSU.

Kielsmeier banquet for web

In eight seasons at HPU, Chris Kielsmeier compiled an impressive 179-44 record as head coach of the women’s basketball team and led the Lady Jackets to a 33-0 record and the NCAA Division III National championship in 2007-08.

He was the winningest women’s basketball coach in HPU history, coaching the school to four straight appearances (2005-08) in the NCAA Division III National Tournament.

At HPU, he won a national title, two divisional championships and three conference tournament titles. He is a three-time conference Coach of the Year and was twice named Region Coach of the Year. Kielsmeier was named the WBCA South Region and National Coach of the Year in 2007-08 and was selected the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches Small College Coach of the Year.

He is currently the head women’s coach at Wayne State College in Wayne, Nebraska.

Daniels parade for web

As one of Kielsmeier’s players, Meia Daniels was 109-12 over four seasons leading the Lady Jackets to three American Southwest Conference championships, four NCAA III national tournament appearances and a NCAA III National Championship in 2008. A 2008 HPU graduate, Daniels holds seven HPU career, season and game records and five American Southwest Conference records. She is second in career scoring at HPU with 2,118 points.

Daniels received numerous honors as a player at HPU including multiple All-Conference selections, National Player of the Year in 2008, two-time ASC Tournament MVP, two-time Regional Player of the Year and two-time All-American. She was also twice named the American Southwest Conference Athlete of the Year.

After leaving HPU, Daniels spent two seasons as the women’s basketball graduate assistant at Wayne State College in Wayne, Nebraska. She helped guide the Wayne State program to a NSIC Conference Championship in 2010.

She currently serves as the head women’s basketball coach at HPU.

Newbury parade for web

Dr. Don Newbury holds bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from HPU, The University of Texas and The University of North Texas, respectively, with post-doctoral study at Notre Dame University. In 2008, he received HPU’s highest award, the honorary Doctor of Humanities degree.

While at HPU, he was sports editor of the college newspaper, sportswriter for the local newspaper and sports director for the radio station. During a six-year stint as publicity director of the Lone Star Conference, he hosted a syndicated weekly radio program with LSC coaches; it was carried by radio stations across Texas. He also was a correspondent for several major Texas newspapers and received the National Award of Merit from the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics in Kansas City for his work in intercollegiate sports promotion.

During his 40 years in higher education, Dr. Newbury spent almost half of his career in presidencies, including Western Texas College in Snyder (1980-85) and HPU (1986-1997). He currently serves as HPU’s chancellor.

Dr. Newbury was a member of the Council of Presidents of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and served as president of the Texas Intercollegiate Athletic Association and its successor, the American Southwest Athletic Conference. He was the first president inducted into the conference’s Hall of Honor and was author of the league’s “Code of Conduct” to promote sportsmanship.

Now a fulltime speaker and writer, Dr. Newbury’s reputation as an outstanding speaker is well-known. In his talks, he reflects on his years as a sportswriter and broadcaster, game official and sports publicist for the Lone Star Athletic Conference, president of an intercollegiate athletic conference and member of a national policy-making body for intercollegiate athletics. He is in his 11th year of writing a weekly column, “The Idle American.” It now runs in about 200 newspapers with circulation totaling approximately one million.

Dr. Newbury is married to the former Brenda Pack of Alpine. They have three daughters, all of whom have been public school teachers: Julie (Mrs. Bryan) Choate of Burleson; Jana (Mrs. Kyle) Penney of Tyler; and Jeanie (Mrs. Ryan) McDaniel of Burleson. The Newburys have six grandchildren.


Photo cutlines:

Dr. Thomas Collins ’96 (right) was named a 2014 Distinguished Alumnus of HPU. He is pictured with Drs. Bill and Diana Ellis, HPU president and first lady.

Dr. Hilary B. Graves ’50 (right) was named a 2014 Distinguished Alumnus of HPU. He is pictured with Dr. Bill Ellis, HPU president.

Benjamin E. Hoover ’03 was named a 2014 Outstanding Young Graduate of HPU. He is pictured with his award during the Alumni and Sports Hall of Fame Banquet.

Marilynn Bock Jackson ’73 was named the 2014 HPU Coming Home Queen. She is pictured riding in the HPU Homecoming Parade.

Leo ’50 and Jane ’52 Lacey were the 2014 Medal of Service recipients at HPU. They are pictured during the halftime show of HPU’s Homecoming football game.

Dr. Ray ’50 and Nancy ’48 Ellis were named the 2014 Grand Marshals during HPU’s Homecoming 2014 festivities. They are pictured riding in the Homecoming Parade.

Meia Daniels ’08 was named to the HPU Sports Hall of Fame. She is pictured riding in the Homecoming Parade.

Chris Kielsmeier was named to the HPU Sports Hall of Fame. He is pictured with his award during the Alumni and Sports Hall of Fame Banquet.

Dr. Don Newbury ’61 was named to the HPU Sports Hall of Fame. He is pictured riding in the Homecoming Parade with his wife, Brenda Newbury, and grandchildren.

Bonner and Wood crowned HPU Homecoming Queen and Princess

2014 Homecoming Queen and Princess for webBROWNWOOD – October 24, 2014 – Katie Rose Bonner of Lytle and Caitlin Wood of Miles were crowned Howard Payne University’s Homecoming Queen and Princess during a ceremony held today on campus.

Katie Rose, the daughter of James and Rosemary Bonner of Lytle, is a senior Guy D. Newman Honors Academy student who majors in political science and history. She serves as student body president and is a member of Sigma Theta Phi, Gamma Beta Phi, Pi Gamma Mu and the HPU Moot Court team. After completing her undergraduate degree, she plans to attend law school and is considering a career in immigration or international law.

Caitlin, the daughter of Ron and Sandy Wood of Miles, is a junior Guy D. Newman Honors Academy student who majors in political science and minors in Christian education. She is a member of Gamma Beta Phi, Pi Gamma Mu and the Jacket Ambassadors. Additionally, she is involved with Student Government Association, Moot Court and the Baptist Student Ministry. After finishing her undergraduate degree, she plans to attend law school and eventually work as a litigator or in-house counsel for a faith-based organization.

The pair will be featured in Saturday’s Homecoming Parade at 9:15 a.m. and during the halftime show of the HPU football game at 2 p.m.


Photo cutline: Caitlin Wood (left) and Katie Rose Bonner (right) were crowned HPU’s 2014 Homecoming Princess and Queen, respectively. They are pictured with Robin Scofield ’14, HPU’s 2013 Homecoming Queen.

Walker Memorial Library showcases HPU memorabilia

By Jaclyn Bonner, HPU sophomore

library display for webBROWNWOOD – October 24, 2014 – In honor of Homecoming 2014 and the 125th anniversary of Howard Payne University, the Walker Memorial Library has collected and is displaying historical HPU artifacts in the Browsing Room on the first floor.

The tribute includes various keepsakes from the HPU archives to foster nostalgia for alumni while offering students a tangible representation of the university’s history.

Memorabilia includes trophies, football gear, cheerleader and band uniforms and photos. Copies of every circulating yearbook are also available for viewing and some are available for purchase at $1.00 each.

The display will be open to the public during Homecoming, October 24-26. Hours are Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon and Sunday from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.


Photo cutline: HPU’s Walker Memorial Library will display historical artifacts during Homecoming 2014.

HPU to host ribbon-cutting for newly remodeled Mabee University Center

Fambroughs for webBROWNWOOD – October 22, 2014 – A ribbon-cutting ceremony for Howard Payne University’s newly remodeled Mabee University Center will be held this Friday, October 24, at 5 p.m. as part of the university’s Homecoming 2014 celebrations.

The extensive remodeling project included a renovated dining hall, study lounge, social spaces, large eatery and coffee bar, enhanced technology, new office suite for the vice president for student life and her staff, expanded campus store, additional conference rooms and improved Bullion Suites to host events for the university and the community.

Waldrop Construction handled the project.

“The remodel went beautifully,” says Dr. Bill Ellis, university president. “We’re very pleased with Waldrop Construction’s work and we look forward to opening the Mabee University Center to the alumni and the community during Homecoming.”

SmithGroupJJR of Dallas, one of the nation’s largest architecture and engineering firms, was in charge of the redesign. Bill Fishback, HPU’s assistant vice president for business and human resources, worked closely with the firm.

“During the construction phase of the Mabee Center renovation project, SmithGroupJJR representatives Nick Back, Kenda Draper and Eden Vaughn were invaluable as we worked with Waldrop Construction and subcontractors to ensure the end result would be a great facility for students,” said Fishback. “Nick Back, associate construction manager, is the consummate professional and was our ‘go to’ person at SmithGroupJJR, assisting us daily throughout project.”

The renovated dining hall opened at the beginning of the fall semester and Fambrough’s Eatery & Coffee Bar, as well as the student life offices, have opened in the past few weeks. Students have expressed their pleasure with the updated spaces.

“The new Fambrough’s looks really nice,” says Allan Chehadi, a sophomore from Austin. “I’m also excited for the new study lounge. It will make it a lot easier for 24-hour studying.”

According to Dr. Ellis, the needs and desires of students were the driving forces behind the project.

“Our main reason for the renovation was to provide a comfortable gathering place for our students and state-of-the-art dining facilities,” says Dr. Ellis. “I believe we have achieved just that. It is a joy to see the students exploring and enjoying the remodeled facility.”

With all of the new features, Dr. Ellis says the upgraded Mabee University Center will benefit the rest of campus and the community as well.

“We’re so proud of this facility and we hope the community makes plans to join us for the ribbon-cutting ceremony,” he said.

A complete schedule of Homecoming events and other information is available online at


Photo cutline: Among the extensive renovations to HPU’s Mabee University Center were updates and improvements to Fambrough’s Eatery & Coffee Bar.