News Archives: Alumni Relations

HPU announces 2014 Homecoming Court

Homecoming Court 2014 for webBROWNWOOD – October 22, 2014 – Howard Payne University has announced the 2014 Homecoming Court. The HPU Homecoming queen and princess will be crowned this Friday, October 24, at 2 p.m. during Homecoming Convocation in the university’s Mims Auditorium.

Homecoming queen nominees are Katie Rose Bonner of Lytle, a senior Guy D. Newman Honors Academy student who majors in political science and history; Morgan Marriott of Fort Worth, a senior communication major and psychology minor; and Samantha Mullins of Frisco, a senior psychology major and health science minor.

Katie Rose is the daughter of James and Rosemary Bonner of Lytle. 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.

Morgan, the daughter of Dr. Ronny and Mrs. Robin Marriott of Temple, is a member of Delta Chi Rho and works for the Yellow Jacket student newspaper. She is a former member of the Lady Jackets women’s basketball team and after graduation plans to become a talk show host.

Samantha is the daughter of Chad and Natalie Johnson of Frisco. She is a member of Chi Alpha Omega and the Lady Jackets women’s soccer team. After graduation, she plans to become an occupational therapist and work with children who have special needs.

Princess nominees are Gabriella Guest of Midlothian, a junior choral music education major and theatre minor; Kelsan Wolverton of Lampasas, a junior cross-cultural and Bible major who minors in theatre; and Caitlin Wood of Miles, a junior Guy D. Newman Honors Academy student who majors in political science and minors in Christian education.

Gabriella is the daughter of Austin and DeeDee Guest of Midlothian. She is involved with the Student Government Association and is a member of Gamma Beta Phi, Kappa Delta Pi, the Concert Choir and the Symphonic Band. Additionally, she writes for the Yellow Jacket student newspaper and is involved with many HPU theatre productions. Her career goal is to become a high school choir director.

Kelsan is the daughter of Kelly and Susan Wolverton of DeSoto. She is on the Student Planning Committee and is involved with Alpha Psi Omega, the Baptist Student Ministry, the Ministerial Alliance and HPU theatre productions. After graduation, she would like to become a missionary.

Caitlin, the daughter of Ron and Sandy Wood of Miles, 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 Homecoming Court will be featured in the parade on Saturday, October 25, beginning at 9:15 a.m., and in the half-time show of the football game versus Hardin-Simmons University at Gordon Wood Stadium starting at 2 p.m.

The student body selects the court each year by elections coordinated through the Student Government Association.


Photo cutline: HPU has announced its 2014 Homecoming Court. Left to right: Kelsan Wolverton, Katie Rose Bonner, Morgan Marriott, Gabriella Guest, Samantha Mullins and Caitlin Wood.

Paul and Paula to return to HPU for Homecoming 2014

Paul and Paula for webBROWNWOOD – October 21, 2014 – In the early 1960s, excitement swept the Howard Payne University campus when two students achieved international fame. Ray Hildebrand and Jill Jackson Landon – known around the world as Paul and Paula – recorded their smash hit “Hey Paula” which spent three weeks at #1 on the Billboard pop chart in 1963. The pair will return to campus this Friday for a concert and unveiling of a Texas historical marker in their honor.

The event is in conjunction with HPU’s Homecoming 2014, October 24-26, which pays tribute to the university’s 125th anniversary.

“We’re privileged to honor Ray and Jill during our Homecoming and anniversary celebrations this year,” said Stephen Sullivan ’11, director of development and alumni relations. “They hold a very special place in HPU history.”

Landon said she always looks forward to returning home to Brownwood.

“My heart will always be in Texas,” she said. “I remember the day I got the call about the historical plaque. I really couldn’t take it all in. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and then couldn’t believe the honor we were being given. I just starting crying and still do when I think about the plaque being at Howard Payne long after Ray and I are gone. The Lord has blessed us in so many ways and I am grateful beyond any words I could put on paper. I wish with all my heart my parents could be there. They are so important to the ‘Hey Paula’ story.”

Hildebrand is also excited to return to his alma mater.

“The Bible says all good things come from God, and the people at Howard Payne and ‘Hey Paula’ were and are good things,” said Hildebrand. “Why would I not want to return to such a good memory?”

The historical marker will be unveiled at the university’s Alumni and Sports Hall of Fame Banquet at 6 p.m. on October 25, a ticketed event during which several HPU honorees will be recognized.

Cobbler on the Campus, a dessert social, will follow the banquet at 7:30 p.m. and the concert featuring Paul and Paula will begin at 9 p.m. at HPU’s Muse Mall and Plaza, in the center of campus. Also performing is Holly Tucker, a 2012 contestant on NBC’s The Voice. Admission to the concert is free and the community is encouraged to attend.

A complete schedule of Homecoming events and other details may be found online at For more information, contact HPU’s Office of Institutional Advancement at (325) 649-8006.


Photo cutline: HPU alumni Ray Hildebrand and Jill Jackson Landon, known around the world as Paul and Paula, are pictured at the height of their fame in the early 1960s.

HPU Homecoming 2014 parade to follow new route

BROWNWOOD – October 13, 2014 – The Howard Payne University Homecoming parade, a community tradition, will be held Saturday, October 25, at 9:15 a.m. The parade will follow a new, longer route this year so that more people in the community have an opportunity to enjoy it.

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

“We hope everyone makes plans to attend this fun event,” said Stephen Sullivan, director of development and alumni relations. “All of the participants are working hard to put on a parade everyone can enjoy.”

A complete schedule of Homecoming events is available online at Click the image below to download the map as a PDF.


HPU’s Homecoming 2014 celebration slated for October 24-26

HC14-Final_RGBBROWNWOOD – October 8, 2014 – Howard Payne University will celebrate Homecoming 2014 on October 24-26, with many events for alumni and friends from the community and beyond. The festivities this year salute the university’s 125th anniversary.

Alumni and visitors can register for Homecoming events online; some require purchased tickets while many are free of charge. For complete details, visit or contact Stephen Sullivan ’11, director of development and alumni relations, at 325-649-8006, 800-950-8465 or

More than 40 events will be held throughout the weekend, including the following.

When they arrive on campus, alumni and visitors will have an opportunity to immediately reconnect with HPU friends at Registration, sponsored by Early Blooms. Stop by Mims Auditorium to register and pick up a free tote bag and HPU 125th anniversary book.

Performances of “Suite Surrender” will be held at the university’s Mims Auditorium throughout the weekend. Show times are Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Sunday from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tickets may be purchased through the Homecoming website; through the School of Music and Fine Arts beginning October 20; or at the door. The School of Music and Fine Arts may be contacted at 325-649-8500.

The Golden Graduate Luncheon for the Class of 1964, 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.

HPU’s volleyball team will take on Hardin-Simmons University at the Brownwood Coliseum beginning at 2 p.m. on Friday.

Also at 2 p.m. on Friday, the university will hold its Homecoming Convocation in Mims Auditorium. The Homecoming Queen and Princess will be crowned at that time.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the newly remodeled Mabee University Center will take place outside the Mabee Center’s front doors at 5 p.m. on Friday.

The Alumni and Sports Hall of Fame Banquet, sponsored by the Alumni Association, will be held Friday from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the Beadel Dining Hall of the Mabee University Center. During the banquet, the Homecoming 2014 honorees will be recognized. There will also be a special unveiling of a Texas historical marker honoring Paul & Paula’s hit song “Hey Paula.” Ray Hildebrand (Paul) and Jill Jackson Landon (Paula) are HPU alumni who catapulted to fame when their record sold almost two million copies and spent three weeks at #1 on the Billboard pop chart in 1963.

Cobbler on the Campus, sponsored by Underwood’s Cafeteria, will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at the Muse Plaza and Mall.

Immediately following Cobbler on the Campus will be a concert featuring Paul & Paula and Holly Tucker, sponsored by Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce. In addition to HPU’s own Paul & Paula, audiences will be treated to a performance by Holly Tucker, a 2012 contestant on NBC’s The Voice. The concert begins at 9 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 newly renovated Beadel Dining Hall in the Mabee University Center.

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

The Homecoming Parade, sponsored by Big Country Ford, begins at 9:15 on Saturday morning. The parade will follow a new route this year, beginning at the Brownwood Coliseum, traveling down Center Ave. and ending at the university’s Doakie Day Art Center. The entire community is urged to participate in this fun tradition.

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

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

The HPU Yellow Jacket football team will play Hardin-Simmons University at 2:00 p.m. Saturday at Gordon Wood Stadium.

On Sunday at 9 a.m., married alumni are welcome to participate in renewing their vows in HPU’s beautiful Grace Chapel inside the Paul and Jane Meyer Faith and Life Leadership Center. Dr. Donnie Auvenshine ’75, dean of the School of Christian Studies, will officiate. The next opportunity to renew vows at HPU will be in 2016.

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


Photo cutline: HPU’s Homecoming 2014 is a celebration of the university’s 125 years of excellence.

“HPU Day” scheduled for Oct. 5 at First Baptist Church of Glen Rose

Ellises for webBROWNWOOD – September 26, 2014 – Next Sunday, October 5, will be “Howard Payne University Day” at First Baptist Church of Glen Rose. Alumni and friends in the area, along with the general community, are invited to enjoy great music, fellowship and worship. The service will begin at 10:45 a.m.

Among the activities scheduled for the morning is a performance by the university’s Heritage Singers. Dr. Monte Garrett, professor of music and director of choral activities, directs the group.

“We are thankful for the church’s invitation to be a part of this service which will highlight and feature HPU students,” said Dr. Garrett. “We’re especially grateful to Kent Barnes, an HPU alumnus who serves as the church’s minister of music and senior adults.”

Dr. Bill Ellis, HPU president, will bring greetings and Dr. Diana Ellis, first lady, will provide special music. The sermon will be delivered by HPU senior Michael Ballejo, a Christian education major from Brownwood.

First Baptist Church of Glen Rose is located at 2000 Bo Gibbs Drive, just off Hwy. 67, next to the La Quinta Motel. For directions or more information, call the church at (254) 897-2351.


Photo cutline: First Baptist Church of Glen Rose will host “HPU Day” on October 5. Dr. Bill Ellis, HPU president, will bring greetings and special music will be provided by Dr. Diana Ellis, first lady.

Football season evokes happy memories for HPU alumni couple

BROWNWOOD –September 24, 2014– Of all of the things associated with autumn, football is certainly a Texas favorite. Though they’re not often able to make it to games, one Howard Payne University alumni couple says HPU football is still a beloved institution in their lives.

Mike Martin for webMike and Sari (Ryan) Martin of San Angelo, both 1971 HPU graduates, met their freshman year in 1967. Mike played offensive tackle for the Yellow Jacket football team.

“We had geology class together and I took roll for the football players in Chapel which, at that time, was held every Monday, Wednesday and Friday,” said Sari. “That’s when we started making eyes at each other.”

The relationship blossomed their sophomore year when Sari became a cheerleader. They were married by the end of their junior year and will celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary next May.

Mike coached for many years at Angelo State University and was inducted into the HPU Sports Hall of Fame in 1999.

Sari Martin for webLast year, Sari learned of the opportunity to name a locker in the Yellow Jacket field house in honor of a loved one. She chose locker #75 after her husband’s former jersey number. She told him about it on Christmas morning and presented him with a note from Roger Geise, HPU’s head football coach.

“He loved it,” said Sari. “I was glad because you can’t buy men anything.”

This season, the HPU Yellow Jackets have started strong, advancing to 3-0 with wins over Wayland Baptist University, Trinity University and Southwestern Assemblies of God University.

“We thought coming into the season that we had a chance to be good and winning our first three games certainly enhances that feeling,” said Coach Geise.

The community is encouraged to attend the Yellow Jackets games, both at home and on the road. A schedule can be found online at

“I am so proud of our football team,” said Mike Jones, HPU athletic director. “Coach Geise and his staff have done a great job of making consistent improvements each year with our football program. We are looking forward to continuing a great year with this group of student athletes.”

Mike and Sari for webThose interested in supporting the Yellow Jacket football team by sponsoring a locker in honor of a loved one may contact Coach Roger Geise at (325) 649-8209 or via e-mail at






Photo cutlines: Mike and Sari Martin are pictured during their college days and more recently as they near their 45th wedding anniversary.

HPU named a great value, veteran-friendly institution by U.S. News & World Report

PrintBROWNWOOD – September 10, 2014 – Howard Payne University maintained high rankings in the 2015 edition of “Best Colleges” by U.S. News & World Report. The publication announced Tuesday that HPU advanced four places from 2014 to be ranked fourth among the regional colleges of the west in the “Great Schools, Great Prices” category. Additionally, the university placed 15 out of the ranked institutions in the “Best Regional Colleges of the West” category and seventh among the regional colleges of the west in the “Best Colleges for Veterans” category.

According to the publication, U.S. News determines its “Great Schools, Great Prices” category by taking into account an institution’s academic quality based on its “Best Colleges” ranking and the 2013-2014 net cost of attendance for a student who received the average level of need-based financial aid.

“The higher the quality of the program and the lower the cost, the better the deal,” the publication stated.

U.S. News determines the “Best Colleges for Veterans” by examining institutions in the 2015 “Best Colleges” rankings which participate in federal initiatives helping veterans and active service members apply, pay for and complete their degrees.

Institutions are ranked in all categories within four geographic regions: North, South, Midwest and West. Universities and colleges in Texas and Oklahoma compete in the West region, which is the largest geographic section, encompassing the entire Western U.S.

Dr. Bill Ellis, HPU president, voiced the university’s pleasure at once again being recognized as one of the top institutions in the region.

“We continually strive to be an outstanding value to our students and their families,” he said. “We’re honored to have been recognized for these efforts.”


Photo cutline: HPU, celebrating 125 years of excellence in 2014, maintained high rankings in the 2015 edition of “Best Colleges” by U.S. News & World Report.

Letter intended for 2012 HPU Homecoming honoree arrives two years later

[The following article was written by Dr. Don Newbury, HPU chancellor and former president.]

joe_and_almola_james_for_webBROWNWOOD – August 28, 2014 – Talk about flowers for the living. Sometimes the final blossoms to complete congratulatory bouquets arrive late, but when they do, the aroma of flowers for the living is simply the best.

Joe James, Howard Payne University alumnus—and his wife of 60 years, Almola—were honored as Distinguished Alumni at HPU’s 2012 Homecoming.

They received dozens of letters, e-mails, phone calls and visitors who were profuse in well-wishing for the cherished Homecoming honors. And a few days ago, he received a letter from a player he coached at HPU almost a half-century ago.

It was intended to be more timely—this letter from Walter (Butch) Barthiaume, a 1968 HPU graduate who mailed the letter almost two years ago. Trouble is, it was held up by postal regulations until delivery almost two years later.

It seems the envelope was opened somewhere along the way without authorization, probably by a ring of ne’er-do-wells seeking “checks in the mail.”

So it was held as evidence by postal authorities until the case was cleared. (A letter from postal officials explained all the details.)

“Butch was one of my favorite players,” James said, “I called to explain to him about the letter, and we got a good laugh from it.” (Barthiaume, who now lives in Colorado Springs, Colo., confirmed there was no check sent attached to the letter!)

A native of Spur and an outstanding football player there, James is a 1955 graduate of HPU, where he received numerous football honors. He completed his Master of Science degree seven years later.

Drafted by the Chicago Bears, he began his coaching career at Hamilton High School in 1955, and coached for several years at Waco LaVega High School before returning to HPU in 1964 as head football coach.

Then, he became a sporting goods representative in 1968, driving more than one million miles over a large part of Texas until his retirement this year.

Almola, his wife of 60 years, is a 1955 HPU graduate who received both Master of Education and Master of Arts degrees in 1966. Her teaching career of 34 years included tenures at LaVega High School, Brownwood High School and HPU.

The couple has two children, and they greatly enjoy traveling, having visited all 50 states.
So much of life seems to be of the “how soon we forget” type. How refreshing when the old coach receives congratulations from a player who didn’t forget. And coach didn’t forget the player, either.


Photo cutline: Joe ’55 and Almola ’55 James were named Distinguished Alumni during Howard Payne University’s Homecoming in 2012.

HPU alumna reunited with class ring missing since 1954

Sullivan and Clark with ring for webBROWNWOOD – July 10, 2014 – Elizabeth Clark of Granite Falls, Wash., a 1953 Howard Payne University alumna, was reunited July 4 with the university class ring she lost 60 years ago.

Stephen Sullivan, HPU’s director of alumni relations, and Lindsay Waddell, the woman who found the ring in a San Angelo lake, returned the ring to its owner while Clark, 84, was in Brownfield, Texas, for a family reunion.

Waddell was walking her dogs along the low waters of San Angelo’s Lake Nasworthy in March when she discovered the ring with the letters “A. E. L.” inscribed in the band. She contacted HPU officials who used a 1953 yearbook to find the only graduating senior with those initials – Addie Elizabeth Little. Nathan’s Jewelers of Brownwood cleaned the ring for free, restoring it to almost-new conditions.

According to Clark’s daughter and 1978 HPU graduate Donna Clark-Love, Clark was delighted to get a phone call from Sullivan letting her know her ring had been found.

“She got on the horn and called everybody,” Clark-Love told a reporter with the Associated Press.

Clark remembers losing the ring in the lake in 1954 while on a date with her future husband.

“She was devastated because she had worked so hard to make it through college,” Clark-Love said.

Lubbock-area television news crews and many family members and friends were in attendance as Clark slipped the ring on her finger for the first time in 60 years. The only one of 16 children in her family to graduate college, she fondly remembers her time at HPU.

Clark with ring for web“My son said, ‘Mom, it’s just a ring,’” she told the reporters. “I said, ‘It’s a special ring.’ I felt like I had lost part of me.”

According to Sullivan, the situation is proof of how God sends blessings even in times of extreme drought.

“If Lindsay hadn’t been out there that day we may never have found the ring,” he said, adding that Lake Nasworthy has since returned to full capacity. “We’re very grateful that she not only returned it to the university but was able to drive to Brownfield to personally present it to Mrs. Clark.”


Photo cutlines: Elizabeth Clark recently saw her Howard Payne University class ring for the first time in 60 years. She is pictured with Stephen Sullivan, director of alumni relations at the university.

Despite being at the bottom of a lake for 60 years, the ring was restored to almost-new conditions by Nathan’s Jewelers of Brownwood.

Woman, 84, to be reunited with HPU class ring missing for 60 years

Elizabeth Clark ring for webBROWNWOOD – July 2, 2014 – Elizabeth Clark of Granite Falls, Wash., a 1953 Howard Payne University alumna, will be reunited Friday with the university class ring she lost 60 years ago. HPU officials will present the ring to Clark on July 4 while she is in Brownfield, Texas, (near Lubbock) for a family reunion.

Due to recent drought conditions, the ring was discovered this March at the bottom of Lake Nasworthy in San Angelo, Texas, by Lindsey Waddell of Buda, Texas, a student at Angelo State University. Clark’s daughter, Donna Clark-Love, is a 1978 HPU graduate. She relayed the story of how the ring went missing.

“When Dad got home from the Korean War, Mom and Dad began dating,” said Clark-Love. “One of their favorite dates was to go to the lake in San Angelo to picnic and wade in the water. When she lost her class ring in 1954, she was devastated because she had worked so hard to make it through college.”

According to Clark-Love, her mother was not encouraged to further her education after high school.

“She was told that she needed to stay home and work in the cotton fields,” said Clark-Love. “She paid her own way through college by working two jobs, while keeping up with her studies. She was the only one out of 16 kids who got a college degree and her ring symbolized her hard work. She is so proud to be an HPU graduate.”

Stephen Sullivan, director of alumni relations for the university, is looking forward to returning the ring to its owner.

“The thought of someone finding this ring after 60 years is just absolutely amazing,” he said. “The ring is still in great shape and we’re excited to have this opportunity to return it to Mrs. Clark. God is so great!”

For more information, please contact Coby Sauce, HPU director of media relations, via e-mail at or by phone at (325) 649-8046 or (254) 977-2510.


Photo cutline: This 1953 HPU class ring, owned by Elizabeth Clark of Granite Falls, Wash., was recently discovered at the bottom of Lake Nasworthy in San Angelo. HPU will return the ring to Mrs. Clark on July 4 at a family reunion in Brownfield.