News Archives: Student Life

HPU announces 2015 Homecoming Court

BROWNWOOD – October 14, 2015 – Howard Payne University has announced the 2015 Homecoming Court. The Homecoming queen and princess will be crowned this Friday, October 16, at 2 p.m. during Homecoming Convocation in the university’s Mims Auditorium.

Homecoming queen nominees are Ashley Chapman of Ennis, senior Guy D. Newman Honors Academy student who majors in Spanish and political science; Dillan Hanks of Frisco, senior athletic training major; and Caitlin Wood of Miles, senior Guy D. Newman Honors Academy student who majors in political science and public policy (pre-law).

Ashley, the daughter of Ricky and Diane Chapman, is the presiding senior senator for the Student Government Association (SGA) and an honorary member of Sigma Theta Phi. She additionally serves as resident assistant for HPU’s campus apartments. Her future plans are to pursue an internship in public policy and eventually work in a district office.

Dillan is the daughter of Chris and Dana Hanks. She is a student athletic trainer, is an alumna of Chi Alpha Omega and serves as secretary of the Tri Beta National Biological Honors Society. After graduation, she plans to become a physical therapist.

Caitlin, the daughter of Ron and Sandy Wood, is a member of Gamma Beta Phi and Pi Gamma Mu. She serves as SGA vice president and as chair of the organization’s Campus Beautification Committee. Additionally, she is a member of HPU Moot Court and is involved in the Baptist Student Ministry. She plans to attend law school and eventually work as a litigator or in-house counsel for a faith-based organization or non-profit.

Princess nominees are Jaclyn Bonner of Lytle, junior public and media communication major; Carrie Leach of Hurst, junior Guy D. Newman Honors Academy student and social science major; and Sydney Spencer of Georgetown, junior Guy D. Newman Honors Academy student who majors in social work.

Jaclyn, the daughter of James and Rosemary Bonner, is the president of Gamma Beta Phi, a National Collegiate Honor Society. She also serves as the junior class senator for the SGA, as a Yellow Jacket newspaper columnist and is a member of the Model United Nations team and the Baptist Student Ministry. Following graduation, she would like to represent a missions or humanitarian, non-profit organization in the public relations department and eventually be involved in human-rights advocacy.

Carrie is the daughter of Jason and Cindy Leach. She is a member of the Baptist Student Ministry leadership team, is an SGA Senator and is a member of the Model United Nations team. Her career aspirations include becoming a human-rights advocate.

Sydney is the daughter of Eric and Tina Spencer. She is a Hatton W. Sumners Scholar, the SGA secretary, the vice president of Gamma Beta Phi and is involved in the Honors Code Council, the Social Work Club, Model United Nations and Pi Gamma Mu. She also serves as an office assistant in HPU’s Guy D. Newman Honors Academy. Her future plans are to pursue a career in international adoptions or in the United Nations.

The Homecoming Court will be featured during the halftime show of the football game as HPU takes on East Texas Baptist University this Saturday. The game begins at 2 p.m. at Gordon Wood Stadium.


Photo cutline: HPU’s 2015 Homecoming Court includes (from left) Dillan Hanks, Caitlin Wood, Ashley Chapman, Jaclyn Bonner, Carrie Leach and Sydney Spencer.

Sims to be head coach at end of semester

By HPU Sports Information

BROWNWOOD, Texas – The Howard Payne University athletic department today announced that current assistant head coach Hunter Sims will take over as head football coach at the end of the semester.

Following the recent announcement that Howard Payne head football coach Roger Geise would be retiring at the end on the semester, the university made it clear today that it already had the new head coach in Hunter Sims.

“I am very excited for Hunter,” said Mike Jones, director of athletics. “I know he will do a great job and he is a perfect fit for Howard Payne and the football program.”

Sims spent three years as an assistant at Howard Payne before being promoted to offensive coordinator and assistant head coach in the spring of 2012. His first two years with HPU, he was the wide receivers coach and then worked as defensive backs coach and recruiting coordinator in his third season.

“Hunter Sims is a man of great character, wisdom and energy,” said Dr. Bill Ellis, HPU president. “Since I came to Howard Payne, I have been impressed with his commitment to our football players and to the program, and I am confident that in his new role, Coach Sims will advance HPU football and bring honor to our university.”

Sims’ offenses have been some of the best in the American Southwest Conference, setting a new Howard Payne record for total offense in a game last season at East Texas Baptist with 720 yards in a 54-53 road victory. He has coached current HPU career record holder for field goals Joshua Martinez and wide receiver standout Colby Mica, who is on pace to break the HPU career receptions record.

Sims worked as a graduate assistant wide receivers coach with Angelo State University before coming to HPU. Also during that time, he helped coach defensive backs for the professional arena football team San Angelo Stampede of the IFL (Intense Football League).

As a player, Sims was a three-year letterman and two-time Academic All-Conference selection at quarterback at McMurry University in Abilene, Texas. After his college playing career was over, he served as a student assistant at McMurry University working with wide receivers and quarterbacks.

He went on to play quarterback in the GFL (German Football League) for the Professional Schwabisch Hall Unicorns. He also played one season with the San Angelo Stampede and Frisco Thunder of the IFL.

While in Germany playing professional football, he was also the head baseball coach of the Schwabisch Renegades Baseball team (Men’s team 18 and up). Sims led them to the Landesliga Championship and was named Coach of the Year. Sims has worked football camps around the state and spent extensive time working with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes as a camp counselor.

Sims is a 2007 graduate of McMurry University with a degree in Education and a minor in History and in 2010 he finished a master’s degree in Sports Management. He was married in the summer of 2011 to his wife, Shannon.

HPU head football coach Roger Geise to retire at semester’s end

BROWNWOOD – October 8, 2015 – Howard Payne University’s Roger Geise announced recently that he will be retiring at the end of the fall semester after four seasons as Yellow Jacket head football coach and 11 seasons total with the university.

Mike Jones, athletic director, said it has been a pleasure to work with Geise.

“I appreciate all that he has done for HPU and our football program,” Jones said. “He is a great friend and I wish him the best in his retirement.”

In Geise’s first three seasons as head coach of the Yellow Jackets, he was 9-21 overall with back-to-back 4-6 records in 2013 and 2014.

“I am very blessed to have had the opportunity to work at Howard Payne over the past 11 seasons and will greatly miss all the student-athletes and co-workers that have become my friends and family over the years,” said Geise. “I am thankful for the opportunity that Dr. Bill Ellis (HPU president) and Mike Jones gave me and wish HPU a bright and blessed future.”

Geise joined the HPU coaching staff in 2005 as the defensive line coach. He then served as the Yellow Jacket defensive coordinator from the 2008 season until the end of the 2011 season. Geise’s 2005 defensive unit set an American Southwest Conference record for interceptions in a season, with 29.

Geise, who has more than 35 years of coaching experience, began his career in his native state of Pennsylvania in 1970. He joined the Louisiana State University staff in 1974 as a graduate assistant and served there for three years.

Geise entered the high school coaching ranks in Texas in 1977 through which he coached for more than 25 years.

In 2005, Geise was inducted into the Romanoski Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame. Roger and his wife, Sandra, live in the Mercury area where they have a ranching operation.


Photo cutline: Roger Geise, HPU head football coach, will retire at the end of the fall semester.

HPU to host Encounter Week

HPU Encounter Week for web

By Rachel Ellington, HPU senior

Saleim Kahleh for webBROWNWOOD – September 18, 2015 – Howard Payne University will host Encounter Week fall revival services next Monday, September 21, through Wednesday, September 23. This year’s guest speaker is Saleim Kahleh and worship will be led by the Nick Gainey Band.

Kahleh, originally from Iran, resides in Houston. Since coming to know Christ as a senior in high school, Kahleh has given up everything to serve.

Yet he states, “My story is not about a man’s faithfulness to God; it’s about God’s faithfulness to man.”

Kahleh is the founder of SK Ministries and has traveled all over the world sharing his faith.

Nick Gainey Band for webNick Gainey graduated from HPU in 2008 and is currently on staff at Connection Community Church in Rowlett, Texas. His band recently released its newest album, “Exalt.”

“We’re really simple guys,” Gainey says. “We love the Gospel, and we love to sing about it.”

Services will be held in HPU’s Mims Auditorium at 10:00 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday, and Wednesday at 10:00am. All Encounter Week services are open to the public.

Corey Ash, chapel coordinator, associate professor of music and director of bands, asks for prayer during this time of spiritual renewal on campus.

“We ask everyone to pray that we will all be prepared to engage in what God wants to do in each of us during these days of renewing,” he said. “May He show up in a powerful way!”


Photo cutlines: Saleim Kahleh, founder of SK Ministries, is the scheduled guest speaker for HPU’s Encounter Week services.

The Nick Gainey Band will lead worship during the services.

Howard Payne University holds Convocation ceremony

Fall 2015 Convocation for webBy Emily Peisker, HPU senior

BROWNWOOD – September 2, 2015 – Howard Payne University kicked off its fall 2015 Chapel season last week with its annual University Convocation ceremony. Kathy Hillman, president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, addressed the audience.

Dr. Bill Ellis, HPU president, said he appreciated Hillman’s words to the students.

“We are so pleased that we could have Kathy Hillman address the students as they begin the fall semester,” he said. “I pray this semester is good for the students and that the Lord will bless them in the coming weeks.”

Other program participants included Corey Ash, associate professor of music; Jennifer McNiece, assistant professor of government; Mike McConnell, HPU senior and president of the Student Government Association; Dr. Harlan Scott, associate professor of biology and president of the faculty assembly; Dr. Allen Reed, professor emeritus of music; Mike Daub, associate professor of accounting; Dr. W. Mark Tew, provost and chief academic officer; Hannah Strebeck, HPU senior; and Dr. Elizabeth Wallace, professor of music.


Photo cutline: Kathy Hillman, president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, delivered the address at HPU’s recent Convocation ceremony. She is pictured with Dr. Bill Ellis, HPU president.

Serving God By Serving Others: HPU’s Xavier McFalls leads ministry to athletes

A version of this article originally appeared in the spring 2015 issue of HPU’s Link magazine.

Xavier McFalls feature for webBROWNWOOD – May 15, 2015 – During his freshman year at Howard Payne University, Xavier McFalls stood before his football teammates and told them something that perhaps few young men have the courage to say to one another.

“I told them I love them and God loves them,” he said. “It was definitely intimidating. My knees were shaking, but I think it was important for them to hear that.”

McFalls was a fairly new Christian at the time but felt God encouraging him to speak out about his new-found faith. Now a senior, he continues to answer the call by leading the athlete discipleship ministry through HPU’s Baptist Student Ministry.

McFalls gets to know student-athletes from all sports and helps them get involved in Bible studies, worship services and other various events on campus. He also leads devotionals and helps disciple younger players to become spiritual leaders on their teams.

“I help them learn how to play as Christian athletes and how to ask themselves if they’re glorifying God through their actions,” he said.

Discipleship is important to McFalls, as he spent a lot of time around godly mentors in his hometown of Amarillo. These individuals helped him see the importance of surrounding himself with good Christian influences.

“I wanted to know more and more about God and I wanted to go to a Christian university,” he said.

He learned about HPU through recruiting letters from the football program and scheduled a campus visit.

“It felt like home,” he said. “I knew that I belonged here.”

He entered the university in the fall of 2012 as an exercise and sport science major. That semester, through the encouragement of Christian influences at HPU, he made a public profession of faith in Jesus Christ during Encounter Week, the university’s fall revival.

He sought new ways to grow in his service to Christ. At HPU, McFalls is involved with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and is an intern with the college ministry at Brownwood’s Coggin Avenue Baptist Church. He also regularly hosts a Bible study in his apartment on campus.

McFalls has had the opportunity to participate in several mission trips during his time at HPU. For the past two years during Spring Break, he has traveled with a team from HPU to take part in the annual Beach Reach ministry at South Padre Island. He has also participated in two mission trips through Texas Baptists’ Go Now Missions and recently traveled to Alaska for a mission experience with his church.

Keith Platte, director of HPU’s BSM, has known McFalls for two years.

“Xavier is one of the leading examples on campus of how to be a follower of Jesus,” Platte said. “He has a fervor for service, a burden for those who do not have faith in Jesus Christ and a willing attitude.”

Though the idea of being so outspoken among his peers was originally daunting, McFalls said he’s had a good response.

“They respect me because I understand them,” he said. “I spend time with them, live life with them and love them where they are in their lives.”

Platte said that McFalls is a good example to other believers because of his authenticity and faithfulness.

“When he is asked to share his faith, he makes no excuses,” Platte said. “He does it because he sees the need, and because God calls him to obedience in that.”


Photo cutline: HPU student-athlete Xavier McFalls is pictured on the HPU campus.

Large crowd turns out for HPU Fest

HPU Fest 2015 for web
BROWNWOOD – April 15, 2015 – Despite being moved indoors due to the threat of rain, Howard Payne University’s all-day music festival, HPU Fest, boasted large crowds on Saturday. Approximately 400 people, including community members and HPU students and employees, attended the event. Pictured is the crowd cheering for this year’s headlining act, Anthem Lights. Photo by Chandler Condra, HPU senior.

HPU Fest to feature Alive by Sunrise and Anthem Lights

By Rachel Ellington, HPU senior

HPU-Fest-Poster-2015 for webBROWNWOOD – April 8, 2015 – HPU Fest, one of Howard Payne University’s most popular student events, will kick off Saturday, April 11, at 3 p.m. with a full day’s worth of music, food and activities. This year’s headliners are Alive by Sunrise and Anthem Lights. The lineup also includes student artists such as Aaron Tassin, a senior from Early and 2014 runner-up for local talent competition “Brownwood’s Got Talent.”

HPU’s Student Activities Council and various organizations on campus will put together a number of booths and activities including inflatables, carnival games and the annual HPU Fest Chili Cook-Off. Sodexo, HPU’s food service provider, will also serve a meal that can be purchased either with a student ID card, cash or check.

In addition to HPU students and personnel, the community is welcome to attend. HPU Fest will take place at the university’s Old Main Park, the grassy area along Austin Avenue. Dinner will be served at 5 p.m. and Anthem Lights will take the stage at 6 p.m.

“This is always an exciting time of year for our students,” said Francie Clark, director of student activities. “HPU Fest marks that spring is here and there are only a few weeks left before summer. It brings an energy to campus unlike any of our other events. We hope the community can come to experience this great event as well.”

HPU students, employees among Empty Bowls volunteers

empty bowls 2015 for webBROWNWOOD – March 27, 2015 – More than 50 students and employees from Howard Payne University joined the volunteers at Tuesday’s Empty Bowls fundraiser hosted by Good Samaritan Ministries of Brownwood.

For a $10 donation, guests received a hand-painted ceramic bowl and a meal of soup and water. HPU volunteers were among those ladling soup and assisting the diners.

The project raised $19,000 all of which will be used to fight hunger. Ninety percent of the funds will stay in Brown County, while 10 percent will be tithed to an organization that fights hunger internationally.

Dan Humeniuk, assistant professor of social work and chair of the Department of Criminal Justice, Social Work and Sociology, coordinated the volunteers.

“We’re very fortunate to have organizations such as Good Samaritan Ministries in our community,” he said. “The staff of that organization does excellent work in fighting hunger in Brownwood. I was proud to be a part of the Empty Bowls project.”


Photo cutline: Danyel Bradley, right, a junior criminal justice major from DeSoto, was among the HPU volunteers at Tuesday’s Empty Bowls fundraiser hosted by Good Samaritan Ministries of Brownwood.

HPU’s Resurrection Week to be time of renewal

BROWNWOOD – March 25, 2015 – Howard Payne University’s spring revival, Resurrection Week, will be next Monday, March 30, through Wednesday, April 1. The community is invited to attend these services, intended as a time of spiritual renewal for the campus.

Mike Satterfield for webThis year’s speaker is Mike Satterfield, the founder of Field of Grace Ministries. Satterfield has a tremendous passion for God’s Word coupled with a love for God’s people. He has a contagious spirit of generosity that flows through every facet of his ministry. Having received his mandate from God, Satterfield obediently fulfills his calling communicating spiritual truths to all audiences, both students and adults. He is an effective communicator with fresh and original illustrations. God has given him the ability to engage the audience with his skilled use of words and his warm personality. He combines both to reflect the vitalizing truths laid out in God’s Word in a relevant message to the world. His vision is uncompromisingly clear, with one central principle: to build and develop a kingdom of empowered people for God. Holding firmly to the commissioned mandate in Matthew 28:18-20, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations,” he has taken the Gospel into national and international communities of the world.

Satterfield is the teaching pastor at Fielder Church in Arlington. He and his wife, Rhonda, have two children.

Mike Romero for webWorship will be led by Mike Romero Music out of Houston. Originally from Seattle, Mike Romero moved to Texas in 1998 to manage the Robbie Seay Band and practice live sound engineering for that band as well as the David Crowder Band. He later transitioned into full-time student ministry at First Baptist Church in Magnolia where he developed a love for ministry and a passion for leading others in worship. Mike Romero Music was birthed from Romero’s ministry at FBC Magnolia, the band being comprised of several of his former students. Romero and his bandmates have released two studio albums, both produced by The Digital Age and recorded in their Waco studio, Asterisk Sound. Mike Romero Music’s long history as friends and partners in ministry has created a unique chemistry and fueled their vision to write music that resonates with listeners inside and outside the church. The band believes that authentic stories of life, relationships, pain and redemption have the power to point people to the Gospel and the glory of Christ.

“Resurrection Week is always a powerful time at HPU,” said Corey Ash, director of bands and Chapel coordinator. “The campus community comes away rejuvenated and we’re glad that we can open it up so the public can experience that as well.”

Services on Monday and Tuesday will be held at 10 a.m. and 7:30 p.m., and the last service will be at 10 a.m. on Wednesday morning. Each will take place in HPU’s Mims Auditorium. For more information, contact Ash at (325) 649-8502 or


Photo cutlines:

Mike Satterfield, founder of Field of Grace Ministries, is the speaker for this year’s Resurrection Week at HPU.

Mike Romero Music will lead worship during Resurrection Week at HPU.