News Archives: School of Humanities

Graduating senior Margarita Solis reflects on HPU experiences

“Howard Payne is Home”

By Rachel Ellington, HPU senior

BROWNWOOD – December 10, 2015 – Saturday’s graduating class at Howard Payne University is characterized by many dedicated Yellow Jackets. One of them is Margarita Solis of Gonzales, a history major with minors in Bible and English.

She reflects on her first impression of HPU during her senior year of high school.

“It was the hand-written Christmas card from the admission office that caught my attention,” she says. “I liked the campus when I got here, but I had no idea that I would end up loving it so much.”

During her freshman year, she was on her way to lunch one day when a friend asked her to participate in IMPACT Weekend, an outreach event the Baptist Student Ministry (BSM) hosts each year. She has attended for the past four years and has been a part of the IMPACT task force for the past two years. She also part of the leadership team for the Nursing Home Ministry through the BSM.

“It is so important to get out into the community as students because we live in this town too,” remarks Solis. “I get to do this along with a group of other Howard Payne students who want to serve and be a part of something greater.”

When asked what she will miss most about Howard Payne, Solis laughs.

“Everything,” she says. “All the events HPU hosts, all the adventures I went on with my friends, the inside jokes with my classmates and professors – each day brought new things to remember.”

Solis has also been a part of Secret Service, the set-up crew for Jacket Journey, as well as a member of Blue Crew, the HPU spirit squad.

“Margarita is one of the kindest, most loving, and all around most joyful people in my life,” says Mike McConnell, fellow senior and student body president. “Her indomitable spirit and ever-present smile have brightened my day on countless occasions, and I am a better person for knowing her the past four years.”

She plans on taking a semester off then spending six months in Peru teaching English and working with a children’s ministry. She then hopes to begin graduate coursework in history and youth ministry.

Solis sums up her HPU experience.

“Howard Payne is a place where you can learn not just what to know for an exam, but things to take with you forever,” she says. “My professors taught me how to learn and how to be prepared. My friends and I grew up together here. I am not sure about my career goals. I just know that I want to make an impact and Howard Payne has prepared me to do that. Howard Payne is home.”


Photo cutline: Margarita Solis will graduate Saturday from Howard Payne University.

HPU students win awards at Stockholm Model United Nations conference

By Emily Peisker, HPU Senior

BROWNWOOD – December 1, 2015 – Five Howard Payne University students won awards at the Stockholm Model United Nations (SMUN) conference on November 15, after a three-day conference with several committees discussing crucial global topics. This was the third time for HPU to attend SMUN, the largest collegiate MUN conference in Scandinavia.

MUN is a simulation of the United Nations, giving students the opportunity to confer and network with peers across the globe, become aware of and involved with international issues and produce potential solutions to contemporary problems.

Gavin Paul Stewart, a senior from Flower Mound, and Jason Murphy, a senior from Brownwood, represented Italy on the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), earning them the best delegation award on their committee. While representing Portugal, Peyton Cooley, a freshman from Lindale, received the best delegate award for the European Council. James Abbatiello, a junior from Kerrville, and Mike McConnell, a senior from Burleson and head delegate of the MUN team, partnered as the People’s Republic of China on the Security Council and earned an honorable mention.

Nine other HPU students researched and portrayed countries at the conference. Sydney Spencer, a junior from Georgetown, and Jaclyn Bonner, a junior from Lytle, represented the United Kingdom on the General Assembly: Disarmament and International Security Committee (DISEC), while Sam Hoffman, a senior from Corpus Christi, and Danielle Parkhurst, a junior from Columbus, portrayed the United Kingdom on ECOSOC. Cody Perrin, a senior from Eastland, represented France on the European Council. Also on DISEC were Emily Peisker, a senior from Cedar Park, and Carrie Leach, a sophomore from Hurst, representing the Kingdom of Cambodia. Leo Baker, a freshman from Lindale, and Emma Reed, a freshman from Arlington, represented the United Kingdom on the UN Conference on Climate Change: Conference of the Parties 21 (COP 21).

The team is directed by Dr. Justin D. Murphy, Brand professor of history, dean of the School of Humanities and director of HPU’s Guy D. Newman Honors Academy.

“I am extremely proud of the Model UN Team,” said Dr. Murphy. “The members worked extremely hard to learn the positions of the countries they represented on the various committees and councils. In fact, one of the SMUN Conference leaders told me that the chairs of the committees and councils were very impressed with how well prepared our delegates were and how accurately they performed their roles.”

The group, including 14 students and three chaperones, left for Stockholm on November 10, arriving in Sweden the next day with time for the students to sightsee and explore the city through November 12. Students took the opportunity to shop in the Old Town, visit the Parliament building, catch up with old friends from previous conferences and immerse in Swedish history at museums.

“It is a blessing to have the opportunity to attend international conferences and learn about foreign relations from the perspective of people from more than 35 different countries,” said Sydney Spencer, co-head delegate of the MUN team. “I am very proud of our team and everything we accomplished and thankful to everyone who played a part in making this trip possible.”


Photo cutline: HPU’s Model United Nations team recently competed in Stockholm, Sweden. Back row, left to right: Cody Perrin, Jason Murphy, Gavin Paul Stewart, Sam Hoffman, James Abbatiello, Mike McConnell, Leo Baker and Peyton Cooley. Front row, left to right: Emily Peisker, Emma Reed, Carrie Leach, Sydney Spencer, Jaclyn Bonner and Danielle Parkhurst.

HPU students win Moot Court tournament, advance to nationals

BROWNWOOD – December 1, 2015 – Continuing a succession of Moot Court wins for the university, Howard Payne University students Isaac Sommers and Rebeca Puente prevailed in their first Moot Court tournament of the year. The team will advance to nationals in the American Collegiate Moot Court Association, competing at California State University, Long Beach, in January.

The UNT Law Invitational Tournament was held at the University of North Texas Dallas Law School in October with 50 teams from across the nation competing.

After successfully completing round one, Sommers, a sophomore from Boerne, and Puente, a junior from Waskom, advanced to the octo-final round, quarterfinals and semifinals. They beat Texas A&M University and two teams from California State University, Long Beach, respectively. They then faced off against UNT Denton in the finals and won unanimously. Sommers also won the 4th place oralist award.

Additionally, Sommers and Puente were finalists at a regional tournament at Texas A&M University during which they both won Top Orator awards.

Dr. Justin D. Murphy, HPU’s Brand professor of history, dean of the School of Humanities and director of the Guy D. Newman Honors Academy, lauded the successes of the students and their coach, Lorianna Kelley, assistant professor of government.

“I cannot emphasize enough how valuable Professor Kelley’s contributions are to the Guy D. Newman Honors Academy and Howard Payne University,” Dr. Murphy said. “I commend her outstanding efforts and devotion to our students.”


Photo cutline: HPU students Rebeca Puente, left, and Isaac Sommers took first place at a recent Moot Court tournament. The team will advance to nationals, competing at California State University, Long Beach, in January.

HPU’s Dr. Evelyn Romig named Distinguished Professor of Literature

BROWNWOOD – September 10, 2015 – After 34 years of extraordinary service to Howard Payne University, Dr. Evelyn Romig has accepted the position of HPU’s first Distinguished Professor of Literature.

Dr. Romig has served the university faculty as head of the Department of English, dean of the School of Humanities, president of the Faculty Assembly and, since 1988, as full professor of English.

“When Dr. Romig expressed the desire to reduce her teaching load or possibly retire, we discussed the opportunity for her to serve in a new role,” said Dr. W. Mark Tew, university provost and chief academic officer. “Known for her innovations in classroom teaching, Dr. Romig is again assisting the university to pioneer new avenues of educational excellence.”

As the university’s first Distinguished Professor of Literature, Dr. Romig will continue to teach on a limited basis, providing the same exemplary experience for which she is known.

“I can’t think of a teacher who better balances commitment to her subject matter with commitment to her students,” said Dr. Millard Kimery, professor of English and chair of the Department of English. “The English department is lucky to have more time to learn from her example.”

Dr. Romig is the recipient of numerous Excellence in Teaching Awards at HPU and the Outstanding Faculty Member of the Year Award in 1991. She is published by Salem Press and in scholarly publications such as Dickens Quarterly and Literature and Psychology. She earned a Master of Arts degree from Texas A&M University and Doctor of Philosophy degree from Rice University.

Dr. Romig has been very engaged in the community, serving as a leader at the United Methodist Church, as member of the American Association of University Women and with the Pecan Valley Arts Festival. She served for 12 years with the Brownwood Independent School District Board of Trustees, including a term as its president.

“I am excited for our students and the university that Dr. Romig will remain on the faculty through which she has served the Brownwood community so faithfully,” said Dr. Tew.


Photo cutline: Dr. Evelyn Romig was recently named HPU’s first Distinguished Professor of Literature.

HPU’s Dr. Paul Lilly awarded the John Edgar Hoover Memorial Award

humeniuk and lilly for webBROWNWOOD – August 31, 2015 – Dr. Paul Lilly, assistant professor of criminal justice and director of Howard Payne University’s Department of Public Safety, was recently awarded the John Edgar Hoover Memorial Award of the National Awards program of the American Police Hall of Fame. Lynn Humeniuk, associate professor of criminal justice and sociology and director of HPU’s criminal justice program, presented the award on Friday during a faculty assembly.

In a letter to Dr. Lilly, Chief Jack L. Rinchich, national president of the American Police Hall of Fame, wrote, “Your dedication to continuing education and training to improve your law enforcement skills is proof of your commitment to serve the public. By striving for knowledge, you set an admirable standard for all officers to follow.”

Dr. Lilly said he was “honored beyond words” to receive this award.

“I had heard of this honor but never knew anyone who actually received it,” he said.

Humeniuk said she was delighted, but not surprised, to learn Dr. Lilly received the award.

“Dr. Lilly has a very distinguished career in law enforcement,” she said. “His lengthy career in law enforcement prior to teaching in higher education has been a tremendous help in making application of theory, principles and practices come true for our students in the classroom.”


Photo cutline: Lynn Humeniuk, left, associate professor of criminal justice and sociology and director of HPU’s criminal justice program, presented the John Edgar Hoover Memorial Award to Dr. Paul Lilly, assistant professor of criminal justice and director of Howard Payne University’s Department of Public Safety.

HPU’s Dr. Nancy Romig presents Fitzgerald paper at Boston conference

Nancy Romig for webBROWNWOOD – July 31, 2015 – Dr. Nancy Romig, assistant professor of English at Howard Payne University, recently presented a paper at the 26th annual American Literature Association conference in Boston.

The ALA is a national association that encourages scholars to come together and share their research on and strategies for teaching American authors and writings.

Dr. Romig’s paper, titled “Fitzgerald’s Crisis of Masculinity in The Great Gatsby,” was presented during a discussion hosted by the F. Scott Fitzgerald Society. Each presentation for the panel centered on Fitzgerald’s life and his works.

“My paper examined Fitzgerald’s personal life and how his anxieties about and desires to meet social expectations for masculine behavior caused him to construct the central male characters in The Great Gatsby, like Nick Carraway and Tom Buchanan, in definite and extreme ways,” Dr. Romig said.

Dr. Justin D. Murphy, HPU’s Brand professor of history, dean of the School of Humanities and director of the Guy D. Newman Honors Academy, said he is proud of Dr. Romig’s academic accomplishments.

“Dr. Romig has struck a great balance between professional development and the needs of her students,” he said. “I’m impressed with the level of scholarship she is achieving.”


Photo cutline: Dr. Nancy Romig, assistant professor of English at HPU, recently presented a paper on F. Scott Fitzgerald at the annual American Literature Association conference in Boston.

HPU students serve God and experience Spanish culture on Costa Rica trip

By Chandler Condra, HPU senior

BROWNWOOD – July 15, 2015 – Thirteen Howard Payne University students, faculty and staff members visited the country of Costa Rica following the end of the spring 2015 semester. The international experience was led by Carla Hawkins, then assistant professor of Spanish, and Keith Platte, director of HPU’s Baptist Student Ministry.

hpu group at irazu volcano for webThe expedition was HPU’s first hybrid trip combining students from Spanish class with mission volunteers of the BSM. However, all students participated in each of the activities during the 11-day trip.

The students and supervisors made their first stop at Hogar De Vida, an orphanage, where they witnessed to others by serving and repainting parts of the facility.

“We spent the first three days serving at this orphanage in Atenas,” said Platte. “The workers there rely on volunteers like us to help maintain or repair the facility. We also helped lead devotionals.”

The group then spent three days in Cahuita along the eastern coast experiencing the Caribbean culture, three days in the central mountainous region of Costa Rica at Paraíso and three days in San Jose, Costa Rica’s largest city.

Activities included guided tours of the mountain ranges, coffee plantations, art and history museums, churches, marketplaces and more. The goal was to give students an immersive experience in the Spanish-American and Caribbean cultures in a range of locations.

“The country has so much culture and a rich history,” said Platte. “We visited their oldest still-attended church, which is even older than the United States.”

A common greeting in the country is “pura vida,” or “pure life.” It epitomizes the cultural experience of the HPU group, according to the students.

“I love that they all say ‘pura vida’ because it shows that they aren’t worried about other things and that they love the life they live,” said Adrienne Sanchez, junior Spanish major from Ozona.

The diversity of the culture, geography and opportunity for service made Costa Rica a prime choice for HPU’s first hybrid trip. The students studied the country before arriving to better appreciate the experience.

“From the relaxing lifestyle of the coast, to the beautiful views from the volcanoes, to the ever-busy life of the markets in the cities, Costa Rica has it all,” said Ashley Chapman, senior Spanish and Guy D. Newman Honors Academy major from Ennis.

Additional students on the trip included Kyndal Broome, senior management major from San Angelo; Anthony Bryant, criminal justice major and May 2015 graduate from Copperas Cove; Tara Carroll, sophomore Spanish major from McKinney; Yessenia Cazares, senior psychology major from El Paso; Camryn Lopez, senior Spanish major from Wallis; Cody Perrin, junior history and Guy D. Newman Honors Academy major from Eastland; Trystin Teale, freshman liberal arts major from Midland; Hannah Williamson, junior Spanish major from Fort Worth; and Mikayla Warren, senior cross-cultural studies major from Salado.


Photo cutline: A group from HPU is pictured at the top of the Irazú Volcano at a national park in Costa Rica. Back row, left to right: Keith Platte, Anthony Bryant, Cody Perrin and Trystin Teale. Middle row, left to right: Camryn Lopez, Mikayla Warren, Hannah Williamson, Adrienne Sanchez, Kyndal Broome, Yessenia Cazares and Tara Carroll. Front row, left to right: Ashley Chapman and Gustavo Abarca, the group’s tour guide. Not pictured is Carla Hawkins.

HPU to host Moot Camp for up-and-coming debaters

isaac sommers for webBROWNWOOD – July 6, 2015 – Howard Payne University will host Moot Camp this Thursday through
Saturday, July 9-11. The camp is designed to prepare students in the introductory and advanced aspects of Moot Court, such as interpreting legal cases, writing and presenting legal arguments and responding to judges’ questions.

Lorianna Kelley, assistant professor of political science at HPU, said Moot Court is a form of debate modeled after the U.S. appellate legal process. Kelley serves as adviser for HPU’s Moot Court team.

“Students at our camp will hone their skills by participating in a number of practice rounds,” she said. “They will also compete in a Moot Court mini-tournament.”

The camp’s lead instructor is HPU student Isaac Sommers, sophomore from Boerne, a two-time high school Washington College of Law National Champion, the 2014 Collegiate Texas Undergraduate Moot Court Association Regional Champion and Best Oralist, and the 2015 American Collegiate Moot Court Association National Championship Semifinalist and 3rd Best Oralist.

“Isaac is an outstanding competitor and I’m excited to see him relay his knowledge and experience to our camp participants,” said Kelley.

The cost to participate is $160 and includes room and board. The camp is open to college students, rising college freshmen and high school debaters (age 16 and older) with two or more years of experience. For more information, visit


Photo cutline: HPU sophomore Isaac Sommers will serve as lead instructor at HPU’s Moot Camp this week. He is pictured following the American Collegiate Moot Court Association national tournament held at Florida International University in January, during which he was named semifinalist and 3rd Best Oralist.

HPU’s Psi Chi inducts 17 new members

Psi Chi induction spring 2015 for webBROWNWOOD – June 12, 2015 – Howard Payne University’s chapter of the Psi Chi International Honor Society inducted 17 new members at the close of the spring 2015 semester.

The purpose of Psi Chi is to encourage, stimulate and maintain excellence in scholarship of its individual members in all fields, particularly in psychology, and to advance the science of psychology.

This year’s inductees included Nick Bennie of Brownwood, Brittany Davis of Red Oak, Allison Eaton of Briggs, Amanda Gober of Brownwood, Angelica Gray of San Antonio, Victoria Hardin of Bangs, Heather Hildebrand of Big Spring, Kelsey Johnson of Goldthwaite, Taryn Massey of Abilene, Erin McLeod of Eufaula, Okla., Shay Pate of Red Oak, Amy Segura of Brownwood, Kristian Simpson of Burnet, Gage Smith of Gardendale, Katie Straach of Coleman, Tate Sullivan of Fredericksburg and Stephanie Upfold of Brownwood.

“It is a privilege to have so many excellent students join us,” said adviser Dr. Jennifer Clement, assistant professor of psychology. “We are so proud of them.”


Photo cutline: Seventeen HPU students were inducted into Psi Chi during the 2014-2015 academic year. Back row, left to right: Gage Smith, Allison Eaton, Angelica Gray, Amy Segura, Amanda Gober and Taryn Massey. Center row, left to right: Tate Sullivan, Kristian Simpson, Nick Bennie, Kelsey Johnson and Heather Hildebrand. Front row, left to right: Erin McLeod, Victoria Hardin and Katie Straach. Not pictured: Brittany Davis, Shay Pate and Stephanie Upfold.

HPU class assists City of Brownwood with 10-year master plan survey

By Chandler Condra, HPU senior

BROWNWOOD – June 11, 2015 – Nine Howard Payne University students recently presented their findings of a semester-long project to Brownwood City Council. Under the leadership of Dr. Kevin Kelley, assistant professor of organizational psychology, the students accepted a consulting project for the city’s Parks and Recreation Department to create, market and implement a survey polling the opinion of local residents on Brownwood parks.

org class for webThe proposition of consulting Brownwood on a city project was brought to Emily Crawford, then executive director of Brownwood Economic Development Corporation, in August by Dr. Kelley.

“Students learn best when they apply their knowledge to an actual project and what better place to do so than the marketplace of business and government?” said Dr. Kelley. “We did this project so students could learn from doing and not just from reading.”

After a period of review and consideration, Crawford had the project in mind and prepared a request for proposal for the students of Dr. Kelley’s organization behavior class. After evaluating the request for proposal during the first class period of spring, the students were given the option to accept or refuse the project opportunity.

“It’s important that students decided on their own whether or not they want to accept a project because with ownership comes personal responsibility and motivation,” said Dr. Kelley.

The students agreed to the project and submitted their proposal to the city. Once the proposal was accepted, the students began drafting the hard copy and digital formats of the survey. Public awareness was raised through posters hung at local parks and businesses, a local texting service and even Facebook advertisements. Additionally, Dr. Kelley and class participant Victoria Krawczynski, a May graduate from San Antonio, promoted the project on local radio stations. The survey was available from late-February to early-April and received a total of 1,118 responses, compared to the city’s last Parks and Recreation Department survey which yielded about 300 responses.

“We had students interacting directly with the client and other students taking team leads based on their own strengths,” said Dr. Kelley. “One student, Chandler Condra (senior from Fredericksburg), took the initiative to be the media relations lead, of which he already had extensive knowledge from his collegiate experience. I enjoyed that because he brought forward ideas, such as Facebook ads and a local text service, which gave us an enormous amount of respondents and helped culminate in the success of the project.”

The organization behavior class tasked with the project was studying human behavior in organizations with emphasis on motivation, communication and leadership.

“Learning how to work with others in engaging in a consulting project truly is about teamwork, relationships and motivation,” said Dr. Kelley. “I tried to stand back as much as possible and let the students succeed on their own and learn through personal experience.”

Summer King, a senior from Brownwood, was one of the student project managers and also served as liaison between City Council and the team. She believes the project was an invaluable experience.

“Doing this project was exciting because it allowed our class to gain real-world experience,” said King.

Additional class participants included Brittany Cavness, a May graduate from Lampasas; Burke Edwards, a May graduate from Plano; the late Kellee Greenwood from Brownwood; Adam Lloyd, a senior from Brownwood; Kelcie Lloyd, a senior from Brownwood; Natali Maldonado, a May graduate from Brownwood; and Sean Locker, a May graduate from North Richland Hills.

Once the survey was completed, the data was collated and presented to City Council. According to the results, Brownwood residents prefer Coggin and Riverside Parks to others and believe that parks can be improved by adding walking trails, swimming locations and more lights at existing parks.

The information gleaned from the survey will be instrumental in developing the city’s new 10-year master plan, which aids fund appropriation from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. City Council subsequently approved the acceptance of a $200,000 grant from the TPWD. Dr. Kelley believes this result fulfills the mission of HPU.

“As a Christian university, it is our responsibility and privilege to be active in our community,” said Dr. Kelley. “Our students need to avail themselves to service. That forwards our Christian mission and demonstrates that our students are not just here to learn but to serve.”


Photo cutline: Nine HPU students recently assisted the City of Brownwood’s Parks and Recreation Department with a semester-long project. The students and Dr. Kevin Kelley (standing in back) are pictured at City Hall. Left to right: Adam Lloyd, Kelcie Lloyd, Brittany Cavness, Victoria Krawczynski, Kellee Greenwood, Summer King, Burke Edwards, Sean Locker and Chandler Condra.