News Archives: School of Humanities

HPU students study advocacy, legislative process at Texas State Capitol

Capitol-2018BROWNWOOD – April 25, 2018 – Fourteen Howard Payne University students recently traveled to the Texas State Capitol in Austin. The travelers, students in Dan Humeniuk’s Social Welfare Programs, Policies and Issues course, are social work and family studies majors who plan to enter careers advocating for and serving society’s marginalized populations.

The students attended a session with representatives from the Christian Life Commission during which they learned about the legislative process and policy initiatives of the commission. While at the Capitol, the students visited with their district representatives to present their concerns regarding payday and car title loans.

“Predatory lending practices such as payday and car title loans are often targeted toward socioeconomically disadvantaged individuals, to the detriment of this already struggling group of people,” said Humeniuk, assistant professor of social work and chair of HPU’s Department of Social Work and Sociology. “In advance of the trip, we studied the social implications of these practices so that students would be well informed when speaking with their district representatives.”

Aryn Morris, senior from Pipe Creek, said she believes everyone who has the opportunity should visit the state capitol.

“It is so beneficial because it teaches and proves that it is not just the people with important titles who are able to make a difference in the world,” she said. “Anyone can go and express their opinions and beliefs to legislators and representatives.”

Lindsey Tumlinson, sophomore from New Braunfels, remarked that the representatives seemed eager to hear from their constituents.

“Not only is it a welcoming place, but our Texas state representatives actually want to hear from us and see us actively involved in the legislative process,” she said. “Citizens have a voice and the representatives want to hear from us.”

In addition to Morris and Tumlinson, HPU students in attendance included Jessica Catlett, senior from Alleyton; Zoe Emley, senior from Natalia; Brooke Gibbs, junior from Fort Worth; Crystal Hernandez, senior from Brownwood; Erin McCleer, junior from San Angelo; Jessica Meeks, junior from Bridgeport; Shelby Nash, senior from Cypress; Lyn Norway, junior from Brownwood; Richard Parmer, junior from Brownwood; Emma Reed, junior from Kennedale; Marina Sheets-Ochoa, junior from El Paso; and Candace Stark, junior from Midland.

Applications are still being accepted for the fall 2018 semester at Howard Payne University ( HPU offers a variety of financial aid options. For more information about HPU, contact HPU’s Office of Admission at 325-649-8020 or by e-mail at


Cutline: Fourteen HPU students recently traveled to the Texas State Capitol to meet with representatives of the Baptist General Convention of Texas’ Christian Life Commission. Back row, left to right: Marina Sheet-Ochoa, Shelby Nash, Zoe Emley, Richard Parmer, Lindsey Tumlinson, Dan Humeniuk and Brooke Gibbs. Middle row, left to right: Jessica Meeks, Erin McCleer, Emma Reed, Aryn Morris and Jessica Catlett. Front row, left to right: Lyn Norway, Candace Stark and Crystal Hernandez.

HPU’s Social Work Club offers free prom dresses to area high school students

Spruill with prom dressBROWNWOOD – March 21, 2018 – Members of Howard Payne University’s Social Work Club are excited to once again assist area high school students in securing the prom dresses of their dreams. The club will host its annual Cinderella Project this Friday, March 23, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday, March 24, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at HPU’s Girling Center for Social Justice, 1308 Austin Avenue in Brownwood.

Young women from area high schools may each receive one free prom dress while supplies last. The gently used dresses are current fashions donated by HPU students and others from the community.

“This is the twelfth year the HPU Social Work Club has hosted this event,” said Dan Humeniuk, club adviser, assistant professor of social work and chair of HPU’s Department of Social Work and Sociology. “Last year, 52 dresses were distributed to students from a variety of area high schools.”

Social Work Club members, led by the group’s president, Sierra Spruill, senior from Ranger, create a boutique experience for the high school students complete with music and fitting rooms.

“Many girls look forward to prom night and the perfect dress plays a large role in that,” said Spruill. “Our goal is to help make prom a memorable and positive experience for as many girls as possible.”

For more information, contact Spruill at 254-433-0242.


Cutline: Sierra Spruill, president of HPU’s Social Work Club, displays one of the dresses that was available during the club’s 2017 Cinderella Project event.

HPU Moot Court students clinch national championship title

Hahn and Sommers National ChampsBROWNWOOD – February 1, 2018 – Howard Payne University students Jordan Hahn, sophomore from Burnet, and Isaac Sommers, senior from Boerne, were recently named National Brief Writing Champions during the American Moot Court Association’s national competition at the University of North Texas at Dallas College of Law. Hahn and Sommers secured HPU’s second national championship title in the history of collegiate Moot Court with the previous title occurring in 2002.

Moot Court is a competition during which students participate in the preparation and arguing of cases in front of judges, designed to simulate argument before the United States Supreme Court.

In addition to writing the top brief, HPU’s team was ranked ninth in the oral component of the tournament placing in the top three percent in the country. Additionally, each student was recognized as a top orator in the tournament, with Hahn finishing as the 13th top speaker and Sommers finishing as the 20th top speaker.

Lorianna Kelley, HPU’s assistant professor of government, advises the Moot Court team.

“This tournament tops off an incredible year for HPU, with several wins, top orator awards and countless hours of hard work behind us,” she said. “It also is a great way to finish the collegiate career of our one graduating senior on the team, Isaac Sommers. He has advanced to nationals every year of competition, so it’s great to go out with a win!”

Hahn said it was an immense blessing to have had such success at the national championship tournament.

“I would never have expected to be at this point in only my second year of Moot Court,” she said. “I’m thankful for my fantastic partner and my coach who made it possible. Isaac and I have worked hard all year to prepare for this tournament, so it feels amazing to have that recognized and bring home a win for HPU.”


Cutline: HPU Moot Court competitors Jordan Hahn (left) and Isaac Sommers recently secured the university’s second national championship title in the history of collegiate Moot Court.

HPU social work students participate in Mission Waco’s poverty simulation

Poverty simulation group HPU 2017BROWNWOOD – January 24, 2018 – Seven Howard Payne University students and one faculty member recently took part in one of Mission Waco’s poverty simulations, an experience designed to give participants a firsthand look at poverty in America. This was HPU’s ninth year to participate in the event.

Mission Waco creates a safe, controlled weekend of experiences that is designed to increase empathy for those living in poverty in America. HPU students joined approximately 30 other people of various ages to go through this simulation together.

Dan Humeniuk, assistant professor of social work and chair of HPU’s Department of Social Work and Sociology, takes part in the simulation with his students each year.

“The whole group of participants was smaller this year which was actually a good thing,” said Humeniuk. “We were able to go through the simulation and spend more time in processing the experience which is difficult with a larger group.”

Attendees experienced a very small sample of the hunger, tiredness and hardship many homeless people have to endure on a daily basis. Morgan Lacy, a senior from Early, attended the simulation and gave his perspective of the event.

“Those who are from a poor background are not less than me; they are my equals according to God,” Lacy said. “Having a better understanding of the hardships of those in poverty, I can understand what their needs are.”

The poverty simulation participants were not given any luxuries, including transportation. They walked everywhere they needed to go which totaled about 18 miles over the weekend.

The group had the opportunity to experience a church service and worship under the I-35 bridge over 8th Street in Waco on Sunday morning. Mission Waco conducts the church services and, as part of the simulation, participants walk one-and-a-half miles from the site to the bridge. Groups of people from all over Waco including college students, families and homeless people join together to worship under the bridge.

Another HPU student who attended the poverty simulation weekend, junior Lyn Norway from Brownwood, shared her takeaway from the event.

“I believe that all people, no matter what career they go into, should go through this poverty simulation, so that they will have a better understanding of what poverty truly is and how they can help to end it,” said Norway.

Besides Humeniuk, Lacy and Norway, others from HPU who attended were junior Jessica Catlett from Alleyton, senior Jacob Escobar from Brownwood, 2017 HPU graduate Gabriella Guest from Brownwood, senior Crystal Hernandez from Brownwood and junior Marina Sheets-Ochoa from Brownwood.


Photo cutline: Eight from HPU participated in the 2017 Poverty Simulation in Waco. They are pictured on the HPU campus. Left to right: Dan Humeniuk, assistant professor of social work and chair of the Department of Social Work and Sociology; Jacob Escobar; Gabriella Guest; Crystal Hernandez; Lyn Norway; Marina Sheets-Ochoa; Jessica Catlett; and Morgan Lacy.

HPU’s Spirit of Social Work Award presented to Anna Moulder Cloud of Brownwood

Anna Cloud Spirit of Social WorkBROWNWOOD – November 6, 2017 – Howard Payne University’s Social Work Advisory Board recently presented its Spirit of Social Work Award to Anna Moulder Cloud of Brownwood. The award is presented annually to an individual whose career reflects an outstanding contribution to the social work profession or to the field of human services in general.

Cloud, who worked as a secretary in the communication department at Abilene Christian University for 10 years, decided to pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in social work. She graduated from Abilene Christian University in 1994 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in social work; and in 1995, she completed her Master of Science degree in Social Work from the University of Texas at Arlington. While at UTA, Cloud assisted with research on the evaluation of day care centers.

Cloud began a nearly 14-year career in 1996 as a caseworker with the Texas Youth Commission (now Texas Juvenile Justice Department) at the Ron Jackson State Juvenile Correctional Complex. She had the opportunity to work with the substance abuse and sex-offender-treatment programs, and served as the security unit caseworker.

Cloud has served her communities in many other ways as well. She taught a Bible class for 20 years at Hillcrest Church of Christ in Abilene and volunteered as a van driver for disabled and elderly church members for 10 years. Cloud has also participated in nursing home and homebound outreach ministries at Austin Avenue Church of Christ in Brownwood for 12 years and has been the coordinator of those services for the past six years.

HPU has also been the recipient of Cloud’s generous love of social work as she served as a field instructor for the university’s social work program. Dan Humeniuk, assistant professor of social work and chair of the Department of Social Work and Sociology, offered his congratulations to Cloud.

”I had the pleasure of working with Anna at the Ron Jackson Complex for 10 years,” said Humeniuk. “During that time, I found her to be most compassionate and highly professional in her approach to her assigned duties. She certainly represents the true spirit of social work.”

Cloud and her husband, Aaron, have been married 56 years. The couple has a son who is deceased and a grown daughter.


Cutline: Dan Humeniuk, right, recently presented the HPU Social Work Advisory Board’s Spirit of Social Work Award to Anna Moulder Cloud.

HPU Moot Court wins first tournament of the season

Hahn and Sommers with judges for webBROWNWOOD – October 16, 2017 – Howard Payne University students dominated at the first Moot Court invitational tournament of the 2017-2018 season. Jordan Hahn, sophomore from Burnet, and Isaac Sommers, senior from Boerne, were declared tournament champions at the recent St. Mary’s University School of Law tournament in San Antonio.

In addition to Hahn and Sommers, the team of Bailey Myler, junior from Brownwood, and Justin Harris, senior from Fort Worth, finished the first day in the top eight. Hahn and Sommers advanced to semifinals then finals, winning the championship in a 3-0 decision.

“I am so proud of the hard work these four have already put in this semester,” said Lorianna Kelley, assistant professor of government and Moot Court adviser. “It’s a promising start to what I know will be a very successful competition season.”

HPU Moot Court Teams for webThis win is the most recent in a long series of victories for HPU’s Moot Court program. In the spring semester, the team successfully defended its position as one of the best in the state by winning the tournament at Southern Methodist University. At the end of the semester, six HPU students were among an elite group to receive year-end awards from the Texas Undergraduate Moot Court Association. Five HPU students made the list of TUMCA’s 2017 Top 20 Orators while two HPU teams were among the five best teams in the state.


Cutlines: HPU students Jordan Hahn, second from left, and Isaac Sommers, fourth from left, are pictured with the Moot Court judges upon being named tournament champions.

HPU Moot Court students dominated at the recent tournament at St. Mary’s University School of Law. Left to right: Isaac Sommers, Jordan Hahn, Bailey Myler and Justin Harris.

HPU Sumners Scholars attend lecture by FCC chairman

HPU Sumner Scholars with FCC ChairmanBROWNWOOD – October 11, 2017 – Students from Howard Payne University’s Guy D. Newman Honors Academy recently attended a public policy lecture through the Institute for Policy Innovation. Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, spoke on the topic “Preserving a Free, Open and Innovative Internet.”

The event was underwritten by the Hatton W. Sumners Foundation. The HPU students, designated as Sumners Scholars, are selected for a competitive four-semester program after an in-depth application and interview by the trustees of the Sumners Foundation. The foundation provides a $7,500-per-semester stipend for its participating students to be used for tuition, fees, books or room and board. Additionally, the students are invited to attend annual leadership and policy analysis conferences, such as this one, to supplement their learning.

HPU Sumners Scholars attending the lecture were Jessica Catlett, junior from Alleyton; Rachel Hughes, senior from Llano; Augusta Johnson, senior from Gatesville; Joel Justice, senior from Brownwood; Tyler Olin, junior from Howe; Emma Reed, junior from Arlington; Isaac Sommers, senior from Boerne; and Rachel White, senior from Arkadelphia, Arkansas.

Named for its founder, former Congressman Hatton W. Sumners of Texas (Democrat, 1912-1947), who served as the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, the Hatton W. Sumners Foundation is dedicated to the study, teaching and promotion of self-government.

“We’re extremely grateful to the Sumners Foundation for its ongoing support of HPU students as well as for its commitment to promoting programs that increase understanding of civic responsibility and personal potential,” said Dr. Matthew McNiece, director of HPU’s Guy D. Newman Honors Academy and chair and professor of history and government.

More information about the Academy and the Sumners program may be found at and, respectively.


Cutline: HPU Sumners Scholars recently attended a lecture by Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Left to right: Tyler Olin, Emma Reed, Augusta Johnson, Rachel Hughes, Ajit Pai, Rachel White, Joel Justice, Isaac Sommers and Jessica Catlett.

ISAAC Project’s Dr. Jesús Romero speaks at HPU

Dr Jesus Romero for webBROWNWOOD – October 11, 2017 – Dr. Jesús Romero, director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas (Texas Baptists) ISAAC Project, spoke at HPU recently as part of the university’s observance of National Hispanic Heritage Month, September 15-October 15.

Dr. Romero, a former HPU faculty member, addressed a joint session of HPU classes about issues regarding immigration. ISAAC, an abbreviation for Immigration Service and Aid Center, is a project of Texas Baptists’ Christian Life Commission and Baptist University of the Américas.

According to the organization’s website,, ISAAC provides unbiased immigration information from a Christian perspective. ISAAC staff members assist churches and organizations in obtaining immigration law training, in starting English as a Second Language and other citizenship and literacy courses, and in education and information on immigration matters.

Dr. Romero’s discussion was attended by students from the Department of Modern Languages and Hispanic Studies, the Department of Criminal Justice and the Department of Social Work and Sociology. Dan Humeniuk, chair of the latter department and assistant professor of social work, said Dr. Romero encouraged students to view the topic of immigration through the lens of Christianity.

“The ISAAC project seeks to engage the immigrant community through a variety of methods and Christian ministries,” said Humeniuk. “Students from each department benefited from Dr. Romero’s insight and passion for the subject.”

Dr. Romero, originally of Monterrey, Mexico, holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish language and literature from Monterrey Tech, a Master of Arts degree in Spanish from New Mexico State University and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Spanish from the University of Arizona. In addition to his role with the ISAAC Project, Dr. Romero serves as professor of Spanish and chair of the Department of Modern Languages at Baptist University of the Américas.


Cutline: Dr. Jesús Romero, director of the ISAAC Project and chair of the Department of Modern Languages at Baptist University of the Américas, recently spoke at HPU as part of the university’s observance of National Hispanic Heritage Month. Photo courtesy of Baptist University of the Américas.

Local DAR chapter celebrates Constitution Week at HPU

Clemons speaking at DAR meeting for webBROWNWOOD – October 3, 2017 – Brownwood’s Mary Garland Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution held its recent meeting in Howard Payne University’s Independence Hall with HPU students and faculty among the guest speakers.

David Clemons, HPU instructor of history, spoke to the organization about two modern schools of thought on the American Revolution. Following his presentation, HPU seniors Carrie Condra of Hurst and Skyler Schoolfield of Aledo addressed the audience. Condra and Schoolfield, both students in HPU’s Guy D. Newman Honors Academy, are the recipients of the Lottie Plummer Wooley Texas Society Daughters of the American Revolution (TXDAR) Scholarship and the Nan Massengill TXDAR Scholarship, respectively.

HPU’s Independence Hall, located in the Douglas MacArthur Academy Building, was an apt setting for the meeting, held in observance of Constitution Week. The room is an almost-exact replica of the room in which the nation’s Founding Fathers signed the two key documents of American freedom: the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

Condra speaking at DAR meeting for webDoris Goacher, digital archives assistant at HPU, serves as regent of the Mary Garland Chapter. She described how the chapter’s history intertwines with that of HPU.

“A charter member of the chapter was Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Peacock Walker, whose home, the Walker House, is now the home of Dr. Bill Ellis, HPU president, and his wife, Dr. Diana Ellis,” she said. “HPU’s Walker Memorial Library is named after Mrs. Walker’s husband, James Allen Walker.”

Additionally, Lottie Plummer Wooley and Nan Massengill, for whom the two HPU DAR scholarships are named, both have HPU connections as well.

“Mrs. Wooley, a Texas State Regent from 1967-1970, selected as her State Regent’s Project a contribution to the completion of Constitution Hall at the Douglas MacArthur Academy of Freedom at HPU,” said Goacher.

Constitution Hall, a lecture hall on the third floor of the Academy building, was named in honor of the DAR’s Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C.

Schoolfied speaking at DAR meeting for web“The Texas Daughters were able to raise more money than was needed for the project, so the State Conference of 1970 established a scholarship at HPU, in Mrs. Wooley’s honor, with the remaining funds,” Goacher said.

According to Goacher, Cornelia “Nan” Massengill was State Treasurer during Wooley’s administration.

“She visited HPU several times with Mrs. Wooley and liked what the university stood for,” Goacher said. “She requested in her will that a DAR scholarship be established at this university.”

For more information about the Daughters of the American Revolution organization, visit



David Clemons, instructor of history at HPU, addressed the Mary Garland Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution at the chapter’s recent meeting held in HPU’s Independence Hall.

Carrie Condra, HPU senior from Hurst, is the recipient of the Lottie Plummer Wooley Texas Society Daughters of the American Revolution (TXDAR) Scholarship.

Skyler Schoolfield, HPU senior from Aledo, is the recipient of the Nan Massengill TXDAR Scholarship.

HPU names six faculty promotions

Faculty Promotions Fall 17BROWNWOOD – September 19, 2017 – Howard Payne University announced the promotion of six faculty members at the beginning of the fall 2017 semester. Receiving promotions are Dr. Celeste Church, Dr. Gregory Church, Dr. Kevin Kelley, Dr. Paul Lilly, Dr. José Romero and Dr. Rusty Wheelington.

“We’re proud to acknowledge the accomplishments of these individuals,” said Dr. W. Mark Tew, HPU’s provost and chief academic officer. “The promotions granted are indicative of their hard work and faithful service to the university.”

Dr. Celeste Church, HPU faculty member since 2005 and formerly associate professor of music, was named professor of music. She additionally retains the title of dean of institutional research and effectiveness.

Dr. Gregory Church, formerly associate professor of music, has been named professor of music. He joined HPU’s faculty in 2004.

Dr. Kevin Kelley, who joined the HPU faculty in 2013, was named associate professor of psychology and chair of the Department of Psychology and Family Studies. He was formerly assistant professor of organizational psychology and business.

Dr. Paul Lilly, formerly assistant professor of criminal justice, was named associate professor of criminal justice. He joined HPU’s faculty in 2011 and also served as director of HPU’s Department of Public Safety from 2011 to 2017.

Dr. José Romero, previously associate professor of mathematics, was named professor of mathematics. He joined HPU’s faculty in 1996 and additionally serves as chair of the Department of Mathematics.

Dr. Rusty Wheelington, who joined the HPU faculty in 2006, was named professor of Christian studies. Dr. Wheelington formerly served as associate professor of Christian studies.


Cutline: Six HPU faculty members were promoted at the beginning of the fall 2017 semester. Left to right: Dr. José Romero, Dr. Rusty Wheelington, Dr. Gregory Church, Dr. Celeste Church and Dr. Paul Lilly. Not pictured is Dr. Kevin Kelley.