News Archives: Alumni Relations

HPU announces Homecoming parade route

Parade Route Map 2015BROWNWOOD – October 7, 2015 – Howard Payne University’s Homecoming parade, a longstanding community tradition, will be held Saturday, October 17, at 9:30 a.m.

Beginning at the Brownwood Coliseum, the parade will travel north on Baker St., turn left onto Center Ave., move across Austin Ave. and enter campus. The procession will end in front of HPU’s Doakie Day Art Center on Center Ave. The best areas to view the parade are downtown and on campus along Center Ave.

The parade will feature student-designed floats and other attractions including the HPU Yellow Jacket Marching Band and the HPU mascot, Buzzsaw. Additionally, there will be a variety of floats and participants from the community.

“HPU’s Homecoming parade is a favorite among members of the campus community and the Brownwood community alike,” said Stephen Sullivan, director of development and alumni relations. “Participants are already hard at work on their floats.”

The Homecoming parade is sponsored by Big Country Ford of Brownwood. A complete schedule of Homecoming events is available online at

Click here to download the parade route (PDF).

HPU to recognize 10 honorees during Homecoming 2015

BROWNWOOD – October 7, 2015 – Howard Payne University will recognize 10 individuals during the Homecoming 2015 celebrations, October 16-17.

This year’s honorees include Dr. Dan Crawford ’64, Distinguished Alumnus; Dr. Sally M. (Davis) Kozoll ’61, Distinguished Alumna; Jeff Mitchell ’02, Outstanding Young Graduate; Melba (Harrelson) Barger ’58, Coming Home Queen; Betty Broome ’95, Medal of Service; Gene Deason ’72, Medal of Service; Dr. Mitzi Lehrer, Grand Marshal; Joe Cardenas ’77, Dr. José Rivas Distinguished Service Award; Tim Brasher ’95, Sports Hall of Fame; and Don Kelso ’80, Sports Hall of Fame.

Nine of the individuals will be recognized during the Alumni and Sports Hall of Fame Banquet, sponsored by the HPU Alumni Association, on Friday, October 16. The banquet begins at 5 p.m. For ticket information, visit or call (325) 649-8044. The Dr. José Rivas Distinguished Service award will be presented during the Hispanic Alumni Breakfast on Saturday, October 17.

For more information about these and other Homecoming events, visit

Dr. Dan Crawford ’64, Distinguished Alumnus

Dr. Dan Crawford for webAccording to Dr. Dan Crawford, almost everything he has done since graduation – including public speaking, preaching, teaching and writing – has its roots in what he learned during his time at HPU.

Dr. Crawford received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Bible with minors in English and religious education in 1964. During his four years at HPU, he was involved in the Baptist Student Union, the Life Service Band and the Ministerial Association. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for HPU’s Alumni Association and is a past president of the organization.

Following his time at HPU, Dr. Crawford went on to study at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and received his Bachelor of Divinity, Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees in 1967, 1976 and 1981, respectively.

Dr. Crawford has served in a variety of ministerial and teaching roles and has spoken, ministered and traveled in all 50 states and more than 55 countries. He has written for a number of Christian publications and is the author of “Dr. Dan’s Monday Morning Manna” posted online every week at

His wife, Joanne (Cunningham) Crawford, is a 1965 HPU graduate. The couple has two children, Danna (Crawford) Presbaugh and James Crawford, and two grandchildren, Whitney (Presbaugh) Kennedy, a 2014 HPU graduate, and Price Presbaugh. Dr. and Mrs. Crawford reside in Fort Worth.

Dr. Sally M. (Davis) Kozoll ’61, Distinguished Alumna

Dr. Sally Kozoll for webDr. Sally M. (Davis) Kozoll said HPU has encouraged her by nurturing in her a strong value system along with service and compassion for others.

Dr. Kozoll is a 1961 graduate of HPU with a Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education and a minor in speech. She also attended Texas State University where she obtained her Master of Education degree in special education. She received a Doctor of Philosophy degree from the University of New Mexico with a major in foundations of education and minors in psychology and anthropology. She currently serves as a tenured professor at the University of New Mexico.

During her time at HPU, Dr. Kozoll participated in student organizations such as Mission Band, Friday Extra, College Theater, Jacket Coeds, Psi Upsilon Chi (psychology) and Beta Gamma Pi (science).

Dr. Kozoll is a consultant with the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, through which she worked with seven nations to develop substance-abuse prevention programs for youth. She also serves and consults with organizations in Zimbabwe and Ethiopia.

Dr. Kozoll and her husband, Dr. Richard Kozoll, who is a preventative medicine physician, work together on many projects to improve the health and well-being of often-forgotten and under-served rural people groups. The couple lives in Cuba, N.M.

Jeff Mitchell ’02, Outstanding Young Graduate

Jeff Mitchell for webBrownwood resident Jeff Mitchell said devotion and care from his HPU family was a major influence in who he became in life. Mitchell received his Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry and computer information systems with a minor in mathematics from HPU in 2002. He participated in many activities during his time at HPU, including cheerleading, band and the Baptist Student Ministry.

Mitchell began working for Kohler Company in 1999 as a part-time employee while still a student at HPU. He has since held a variety of progressive management positions with the company and today serves as pottery superintendent, directing a workforce of approximately 760 associates. In addition to his HPU degree, Mitchell earned a Master of Arts degree in mathematics from the University of Houston.

Mitchell is involved in a number of church and civic activities and credits mentors among HPU’s faculty and staff for his successes in leadership.

His wife, Kristy (Snider) Mitchell graduated from HPU in 2000. The couple has two sons, Tyler and Peyton.

Melba (Harrelson) Barger ’58, Coming Home Queen

Melba Barger for webMelba (Harrelson) Barger of Brownwood has many cherished memories from her time at HPU, including participating in the university’s first Chime Out ceremony.

Barger graduated from HPU in 1958 with a Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education and a minor in art education. While at HPU, she participated in Alpha Chi, the Life Service Band, Future Teachers of America and the Veda Hodge Hall dorm council. In 1957, she served as editor of the Lasso yearbook.

Barger went on to receive her Master of Arts in social rehabilitation and social services from Sam Houston State University. Her thesis was titled An Investigation into Family Size and Classification Status of Instructional Youth. She taught public school for 30 years before retiring in 1995.

Barger and her husband, the late Dann Barger, also a 1958 graduate, married one day after their HPU graduation. They were married for 52 years until his death in 2010. The couple has two sons, Jon Harrell Barger (wife Kimberly) and James Michael Barger (wife Tammy), and five grandchildren – Evan, Dana, Holli, Alexandria and Garrett.

Betty Broome ’95, Medal of Service

Betty Broome for webBetty Broome of Brownwood attended HPU as a non-traditional student while taking night classes and working full-time for the university. She graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in 1995.

Broome was named to the Who’s Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities list in 1994. She also served as second-vice president for the HPU Woman’s Club and received the organization’s prestigious Yellow Rose award in 2012. HPU presented her with the Outstanding Staff Member Award in 2004 and with Excellence in Service awards in 1999 and 2003.

Among other roles, Broome worked as an executive assistant to six different university presidents during her 26 years as a staff member at HPU. Upon retirement, she was named Executive Assistant to the President Emeritus.

Broome remains active at HPU, serving as secretary of the Retired Employees Association. Additionally, she enjoys attending HPU functions including sporting events, concerts, theatre productions, Homecoming and more. She also serves as a member of the Retired Faculty/Staff Area Steering Committee for HPU’s A Call to Send campaign and assists with the scheduling of volunteers for the university’s Food & Essentials Pantry.

Broome and her husband, Clois, have three daughters: Kim Moore, Lara Haddock (husband Jim), and Amy Spargo ’94 (husband Ben ’94). The couple has six grandchildren: James Haddock, Amber Moore, Jack Haddock, Kate Haddock, Emma Spargo and Grant Spargo.

Gene Deason ’72, Medal of Service

Gene Deason for webWith experience as editor of HPU’s Yellow Jacket student newspaper, Gene Deason used his time at HPU to prepare for his long career in journalism.

Deason graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree and a minor in journalism in 1972. In addition to leading the Yellow Jacket staff, Deason served in the Student Government Association and became a member of the Gamma Beta Phi honor society during his senior year. He was a member of several other student organizations including Phi Eta Sigma, Pi Chi journalism society and Circle K International.

While a student at HPU, Deason served as a part-time reporter for the Brownwood Bulletin from 1969 to 1972. He went on to become a full-time reporter after college and then managing editor, executive editor and assistant publisher at the Bulletin between 1972 and 2000. Deason additionally served at the Stephenville Empire Tribune and Alice Echo News before returning to serve as editor at the Brownwood Bulletin in 2004, the position he held until his retirement in 2012.

Among his many civic activities, Deason is chairman of the Board of Directors for HPU’s Guy D. Newman Honors Academy and board secretary for HPU’s Alumni Association.

Deason’s wife, Valeri (Chambers) Deason, is a 1973 HPU graduate. The couple lives in Brownwood and has two children, Amy (Deason) Slaughter and Trey Deason, and one grandson, Ross Everett Slaughter.

Dr. Mitzi Lehrer, Grand Marshal

Dr. Mitzi Lehrer for webBrownwood native Dr. Mitzi Lehrer retired as associate professor of education in 2015 following 19 years of service to HPU. She currently serves as an adjunct faculty member in HPU’s School of Education.

Dr. Lehrer received a Bachelor of Science degree in home economics from Baylor University in 1962. She went on to complete her Master of Education degree in 1986 from Abilene Christian University and her Doctor of Education degree in curriculum and instruction from Baylor University in 1997.

Prior to her career at HPU, Dr. Lehrer taught for 30 years in a number of public school districts across the state.

Dr. Lehrer served on a variety of committees at HPU and as a faculty sponsor for Kappa Delta Pi. Among other accomplishments, she led student groups from the School of Education on trips to London in 2010, 2012 and 2014.

Dr. Lehrer additionally has several family ties to the university including her mother and brother, as well as her uncle, Dr. Guy D. Newman, HPU president from 1955 to 1973. She and her late husband, Wayne, have two children, Robert Lehrer (wife Liz) and Mary Lehrer. They also have two grandchildren, Jacob and Joshua Lehrer.

Joe Cardenas ’77, Dr. José Rivas Distinguished Service Award

Joe Cardenas for webJoe Cardenas of Brownwood, this year’s recipient of the Dr. José Rivas Distinguished Service Award, was mentored by Dr. Rivas who encouraged him to attend HPU. Cardenas graduated from HPU in 1977 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and a minor in history. He attended the Douglas MacArthur Academy of Freedom (today the Guy D. Newman Honors Academy) as a Hatton W. Sumners Scholarship recipient and also participated in student organizations including Kappa Delta Pi and La Hora Bautista.

While a student at HPU, Cardenas served as dorm supervisor, campus supervisor and behavioral trainer for the Texas Youth Commission.

He went on to obtain his Master of Education degree and superintendent certification from Tarleton State University. Employed by Brownwood ISD for 25 years, Cardenas currently serves as a BISD administrator.

Cardenas was a U.S. Army Sergeant and Vietnam veteran honorably discharged. He is married to Ronnie (Wise) Cardenas, a 1981 HPU graduate. The couple has three children – Natalie ’13, Juanita Mercedes ’14 and Gabriel, an HPU junior.

Tim Brasher ’95, Sports Hall of Fame

Tim Brasher for webBrownwood resident Tim Brasher said professors at HPU reinforced family values and taught him to balance life’s priorities. Brasher graduated from the university in 1995 with a degree in exercise and sport science.

While at HPU, Brasher was named the Texas Intercollegiate Athletic Association (TIAA) men’s tennis Player of the Year during his senior season of 1994. Additionally, Brasher helped lead the team to a TIAA championship in 1991 and NAIA and NCAA III national tournament appearances in 1991 and 1994. In three seasons, he received 2nd and 1st Team All-TIAA honors, twice a NAIA All-District selection.

Upon graduating, Brasher served as HPU head tennis coach from 1995 to 1997. He guided the women’s team to an American Southwest Conference championship and a NCAA III national tournament appearance in 1996. That same year, he was named TIAA women’s Coach of the Year. On the men’s side, Brasher led the Yellow Jackets to an ASC Championship in 1997 and to two appearances in the NCAA III national tournament. He also was tabbed as the ASC men’s Coach of the Year in 1997.

Today, he runs a successful business, Brasher & Co., in Brownwood. He and his wife, Michelle, have three children – Blake, Lilly and Abby.

Don Kelso ’80, Sports Hall of Fame

Don Kelso for webBig Spring resident Don Kelso said HPU taught him to work hard and stay faithful even while being an underdog. As an All-American defensive lineman for the Yellow Jackets in 1979, he would go on to sign free-agent contracts with the Houston Oilers and Los Angeles Rams of the National Football League (NFL).

Kelso graduated from HPU in 1980 with a Bachelor of Science degree in physical education and health with a minor in history. He went on to serve as a teacher and coach for more than 30 years with stints in McCamey, Crosbyton, Jacksboro and Big Spring.

After redshirting his freshman year of 1975 at HPU, Kelso would start at offensive guard for two seasons, earning 2nd Team All-Lone Star Conference honors. He then moved to the defensive side of the ball his junior and senior seasons of 1978 and 1979. He was 2nd Team All-Lone Star Conference his junior season and 1st Team All-Lone Star Conference along with his All-American honor in his senior year of 1979.

Kelso stays involved in his local church by serving as a deacon. Additionally, he teaches a Sunday School class for adult couples. Kelso and his wife, Jean (Barnes), whom he met at HPU, have two sons: Clayton (wife Kelsey) and Brendon. The couple has two grandchildren, Brenley and Cannon.

Works by HPU art faculty on exhibit during Homecoming 2015

BROWNWOOD – October 6, 2015 – Works by Howard Payne University’s art faculty will be on exhibit during HPU’s 2015 Homecoming celebrations, October 16-17. The exhibit, titled “Artists in Action,” is housed in the Dorothy and Wendell Mayes Art Gallery inside HPU’s Doakie Day Art Center.

The artists include David Harmon, professor of art and chair of the Department of Art; Susan Harmon, adjunct instructor of art; and Julie Mize, adjunct instructor of photography. The works feature collage, drawing, ink, painting, pastel and various photographic techniques.

David Harmon said he welcomes art alumni, and all other art enthusiasts, to the exhibit.

“We look forward to seeing former students and meeting new friends during the Homecoming festivities,” he said.

The gallery will be open for special Homecoming hours Friday, October 16, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday, October 17, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Regular gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., or by appointment. For more information about the show, contact HPU’s School of Music and Fine Arts at (325) 649-8500. The Doakie Day Art Center is located on the HPU campus, on Center Avenue, near Lipscomb Street in Brownwood.

A complete list of Homecoming 2015 events is available online at


Photo cutline: Works by HPU’s art faculty, including “Self Portrait – Imagined” by David Harmon, will be on display during Homecoming 2015. Photo by Rachel Ellington, HPU senior.

HPU’s Homecoming festivities scheduled October 16-17 to celebrate “Timeless Traditions”

Homecoming sign at HPU for webBROWNWOOD – October 1, 2015 – Howard Payne University will celebrate many time-honored traditions at this year’s Homecoming, slated for October 16-17. “Timeless Traditions” is the theme for the event, at which alumni and friends of the university will convene on the HPU campus for a full schedule of activities.

Alumni and visitors may register for Homecoming events online; some require purchased tickets while many are free of charge. For complete details, visit or contact the Office of Alumni Relations at (325) 649-8044 or via e-mail at

New events this year include Reunion Pre-Game Gatherings for the classes of 1965, 1985, 1990, 1995 and 2005 at Gordon Wood Stadium prior to the football game on Saturday, and an Authors’ Reception and Archival Display at HPU’s Walker Memorial Library on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.

Additional events are highlighted below.

When they arrive on campus, alumni and visitors will have an opportunity to immediately reconnect with HPU friends at Mims Auditorium during Registration, sponsored by Early Blooms & Things. Those who registered in advance may check in the registration booths to pick up nametags, t-shirts and other materials.

Performances of “Godspell” will be held at the university’s Mims Auditorium on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. each evening. Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for students and children 13 and younger. Tickets may be purchased through the Homecoming website or at the door on the evenings of the performances. Those who purchase tickets online for Thursday’s performance should contact the Office of Alumni Relations prior to the event at (325) 649-8044.

The Golden Graduate Luncheon honoring the Class of 1965, sponsored by Wendlee Broadcasting, will be held Friday from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the Richard and Wanda Jackson Conference Room of the university’s Paul and Jane Meyer Faith and Life Leadership Center.

The Homecoming Court will be presented during Homecoming Convocation at 2 p.m. on Friday in Mims Auditorium.

The Alumni and Sports Hall of Fame Banquet, sponsored by HPU’s Alumni Association, will be held Friday from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the Beadel Dining Hall of the Mabee University Center. During the banquet, the Homecoming 2015 honorees will be recognized. Doors open at 4:45 p.m.

Following the banquet on Friday will be Cobbler on the Campus sponsored by Underwood’s Cafeteria and a Pep Rally sponsored by the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce at HPU’s Muse Plaza and Mall. These festivities begin at 6:30 p.m.

Saturday morning’s Decades Breakfast, sponsored by Willie’s T’s, begins at 7:30 a.m. During this time, alumni are invited to reunite with friends from their class decades in the Beadel Dining Hall of the Mabee University Center.

Also at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday will be the Hispanic Alumni Breakfast in Bullion Suites B and C of the Mabee University Center and the Letterman’s Breakfast in the Beadel Dining Hall.

The Homecoming Parade, sponsored by Big Country Ford, begins at 9:30 on Saturday morning. The parade will follow the same route as last year, beginning at the Brownwood Coliseum, traveling down Center Ave. and ending at the university’s Doakie Day Art Center. The best areas to view the parade are downtown and on campus along Center Avenue.

Little Jackets’ Nest, sponsored by Mills County State Bank, will be held from 10:30 a.m. until 11:30 on Saturday behind the Packer Administration Building. This is a time of games and other fun activities for children.

A variety of departmental and student-organization receptions, sponsored by TexasBank, will be held Saturday morning from 10:30 a.m. until noon. A complete list of participating departments and organizations is available online at

Picnic on the Plaza, sponsored by the Early Chamber of Commerce, will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday at the Muse Plaza and Mall and Beadel Dining Hall.

A tree dedication in memory of Shawn Brown, class of 1998, will take place on Saturday from 11:35 to 11:50 a.m. at the Muse Plaza and Mall.

The HPU Yellow Jacket football team will play East Texas Baptist University at 2:00 p.m. Saturday at Gordon Wood Stadium.

A variety of reunions, athletic events and other events will be held throughout the weekend. A complete schedule of events and ticket prices are available online at

In addition to the sponsors listed above, HPU thanks the following business for their support: Dr Pepper Bottling, Citizens National Bank, Painter & Johnson Financial, Porter Insurance Agency, Winstar Marketing, Adidas, PF&E Oil Company, United Supermarkets and Robnett Integra Insurance Services.


Photo cutline: A sign on the HPU campus along Austin Avenue announces the dates for Homecoming 2015.

Book and film on women in geology to profile retired HPU faculty member

Marie Gramann and classmates for webBROWNWOOD – September 30, 2015 – Retired Howard Payne University faculty member Marie Gramann doesn’t consider herself a pioneer in geology, but from a young age the field held natural appeal.

“I was thirteen years old when I decided I wanted to be a geologist,” she said. “I don’t know why. I was raised in Cuero, a small town between San Antonio and Houston. There were no geologists there at the time.”

Gramann went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in geology in 1936 from The University of Texas, one of the first women to earn that particular degree from the institution. She spent the next several years working for oil companies in San Antonio, Corpus Christi and Austin before arriving in Brownwood to teach at HPU.

Gramann’s story – and the stories of several other women in the field – caught the attention of Robbie Gries, past president of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG). Gries is compiling interviews for a book and film on women geologists in petroleum from 1918 through the late 1980s.

“She is a delight,” said Gries of Gramann. “As I enjoy the late years of my career, I have taken on a project to honor the real pioneers in our field.”

While the project is a few years away from completion, friends and former colleagues are thrilled that Gramann will be recognized in this way.

Betty Broome, who retired from HPU in 2012 as executive assistant to the president, said Gramann was one of the first friends she made on campus when she came to the university in 1986.

“Miss Gramann was a friend to faculty and staff, and enjoyed getting to know the students in her classes,” Broome said. “Though retired for many years, she can still carry on a lively discussion about fracking!”

Gramann has been a member of AAPG for more than 60 years and is a past member of geological societies in San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Austin and Abilene.

“She knows so much about geology,” said Margaret Blagg, a family friend. “She knows everything about the geology of this area.”

With Gramann’s membership in the organization, she also receives the AAPG Explorer magazine. Gramann herself was featured in the magazine in 2013.

“She has a keen interest in them,” Blagg said. “She reads every issue cover to cover.”

Following her career in the oil industry, Gramann moved to Brownwood in the 1960s to be nearer to family. She was approached by a friend, the late Dr. George Baker, who was then head of Howard Payne’s music department.

Marie Gramann 1974 for web“He said, ‘Why don’t you let me make an appointment for you with the dean? They don’t have anyone to teach geology,’” said Gramann. “I had never taught before in my life.”

Gramann signed a teaching contract on a Saturday in 1965. School began the following week.

“Nobody in his or her right mind would do what I did,” Gramann said, laughing.

That Monday and Tuesday, she drove to Austin and Waco to consult with colleagues at The University of Texas and Baylor University. They gave her a few rocks and minerals to begin her lab and suggested a textbook and lab manual.

Gramann stayed busy as a first-year teacher.

“I would read and read and read, then type a lecture, then go to school, then come home and read and read and read,” she said. “I made it, somehow.”

Some of her favorite memories from Howard Payne include geology field trips with students and a concert the band dedicated in her honor. A page in the 1974 Lasso yearbook reads, “Because of the inspiration she has given us in friendship, in professionalism, in scholarship and in personal conduct, the 1974 Lasso is dedicated to Marie Gramann, assistant professor of geology.”

Dr. Jack Stanford, professor emeritus of biology who retired from HPU in 1999, worked closely with Gramann.

“Students loved her,” he said. “She knows her subject very, very well. She loved field trips and was always well prepared for them. She knows absolutely everything about the geology of Brown County.”

Gramann said she’s a “people person.”

“I just enjoyed everything about teaching at Howard Payne,” she said.

She retired in 1990 following 25 years of teaching. She still laughs when she thinks about her start at Howard Payne.

“The one thing I never, ever intended to do was teach,” she said. “Don’t ever say what you never intend to do, because you might do it.”

Brownwood resident Gene Deason, a 1972 HPU graduate, said Gramann was not only one of the best professors he had at the university, but also one of the dearest individuals he has ever had the honor to know.

“Her enthusiasm for the subject she taught was contagious,” he said. “Students had to find out what all her excitement was about when we went on field trips and discovered how many stories those rocks and dirt could tell. What started out as a science class needed for my degree turned into an unending appreciation of what the layers of earth lying just below our feet, or visible due to excavations for highways, can tell us about the past.”

After he graduated, Deason became better acquainted with Gramann as a fellow member of the community.

“I came to appreciate not only her professionalism and knowledge, but also her goodness and kindness,” he said. “I am thankful God put me in her path.”


Photo cutline: Marie Gramann, right, is pictured in the field with classmates from The University of Texas. The students were the first female participants in UT’s geology field course. Photo courtesy of The University of Texas at Austin Jackson School of Geosciences.

The 1974 Lasso yearbook was dedicated in Marie Gramann’s honor. She is pictured, in a photo from the yearbook, in her office at HPU.

HPU announces Alumni Association directors

Alumni Association Board 2015-16 for webBROWNWOOD – September 29, 2015 – Howard Payne University’s Alumni Association recently announced its Board of Directors for the 2015-2016 academic year.

Board members include Bobbette Bell ’87 of Salado, Shane Blackshear ’04 of Austin, L.J. Clayton ’77 of San Antonio, Melanie Bigbee Clonts ’75 of Austin, Jane Collette ’81 of McKinney, Dr. Dan Crawford ’64 of Fort Worth, Gene Deason ’72 of Brownwood, Kollin Fields ’13 of Waco, Kathy Caudill Garza ’83 of San Antonio, Matthew Haynie ’08 of Bandera, Autumn Hendon ’02 of Waco, Kristi Franklin Hyatt ’86 of Midland, Brandon Ireton ’07 of San Angelo, Marilynn Bock Jackson ’73 of Brownwood, Kenna Jordy ’99 of Temple, Robert Morrison ’82 of Montgomery, Chelsea Murphree ’11 of May, Debbie Prude ’78 of Abilene, Danny Quintanilla ’82 of Cypress, Jarod Root ’03 of Flower Mound and Robin Lemma Sellman ’82 of George West.

The Alumni Association is a network of former students whose support of HPU furthers university interests such as recruitment, scholarships, student initiatives, Homecoming and more.

“We’re very grateful for Alumni Association members and give special thanks to those who serve on the Board of Directors,” said Stephen Sullivan ’11, ’14, director of development and alumni relations. “The combined efforts of our alumni play a direct role in the lives and success of our current students.”


Photo cutline: HPU’s Alumni Association recently announced its Board of Directors for the 2015-2016 academic year. Left to right: Jane Collette, Debbie Prude, Gene Deason, Matt Haynie (back row), Autumn Hendon (front row), Shane Blackshear, Jarod Root (back row), Kenna Jordy (front row), Bobbette Bell, Robert Morrison (back row), Robin Lemma Sellman (front row), Kollin Fields, L.J. Clayton (back row), Danny Quintanilla (front row), Chelsea Murphree, Kathy Caudill Garza, Kristi Franklin Hyatt and Dr. Dan Crawford. Not pictured are Melanie Bigbee Clonts, Brandon Ireton and Marilynn Bock Jackson.

HPU enters fall 2015 semester with increased enrollment

Jacket Journey group photo 2015 for webBROWNWOOD – September 16, 2015 – Faculty, staff and students at Howard Payne University entered the fall 2015 semester recently with increased enrollment and excitement over the months to come. Total undergraduate and graduate enrollment at HPU’s three locations is 1,163 students, a 2.2 percent increase over fall 2014. The figure includes 382 incoming freshmen and transfer students.

“We have certainly been blessed with an amazing group of students this year,” said Kevin Kirk, associate vice president for enrollment. “It is really great to see them already connecting to the campus community.”

Dr. Trissa Cox, professor of computer information systems, said summer is a great time of renewal but students are the lifeblood of campus.

“Howard Payne’s campus was never meant to be quiet,” she said. “I’m excited to see students back at HPU and around Brownwood.”

Dr. W. Mark Tew, HPU provost and chief academic officer, said the entire campus community plays a large role in the recruiting efforts.

“In addition to the excellent work of our admission staff, the university is particularly indebted to the personnel in the offices of business affairs, financial aid and the registrar for countless hours of behind-the-scenes efforts to bring in this class,” he said. “I am deeply appreciative of the university’s faculty who are invaluable to the process of recruitment and retention by providing exemplary education and loving Christian support to all our students.”

Nathan Lacy, freshman from Brownwood, said he already feels like a member of the HPU “family.”

“I’m looking forward to future semesters and the many wonderful things I am about to learn,” he said.

Like many other students from the area, Lacy benefits from HPU’s Heart of Texas Scholarship which awards substantial financial assistance to students from Brown County and other nearby counties.

Lacy said he chose HPU not just for the quality education but because he feels it is the best place for him to grow and prosper as an individual.

“I am extremely happy that I received the Heart of Texas Scholarship,” he said. “It was a tremendous help.”

HPU is always excited to welcome new members to the family. If you’re interested in learning more about becoming an HPU Yellow Jacket, visit, e-mail or call (325) 649-8020.


Photo cutline: New freshmen are pictured with upperclassmen leaders during HPU’s Jacket Journey new-student orientation.

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.