News Archives

HPU law enforcement personnel participate in FBI forum

By Jaclyn Bonner, HPU sophomore

BROWNWOOD – December 11, 2014 –Dr. Paul Lilly and Chief Bob Pacatte, the leaders of Howard Payne University’s Department of Public Safety, recently attended a Critical Incident and Active Shooter Response roundtable discussion and training session held by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Dr. Lilly serves as chief of police and assistant professor of criminal justice and Chief Pacatte serves as assistant chief of police.

The HPU law enforcement personnel were personally requested to attend the seminar by Janet Thomas, the event coordinator and FBI special agent. Dr. Lilly and Chief Pacatte contributed to the roundtable discussion along with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Abilene Police Department, the Taylor County Sheriff’s Department, the Brownwood Police Department, Brown County Sheriff’s Office command staff, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Eastland Police Department and personnel from Hardin-Simmons University and McMurry University.

The four-hour training and discussion session emphasized response procedures for critical incidents, specifically shootings in populated areas such as shopping and retail centers and college and university campuses.

Participants in the exercise were afforded the opportunity to share their training and field experiences as well as departmental response protocol for critical incidents. Additional topics included information about first-respondent approaches to incidents, maintaining and developing policies as guidelines during events and issuing imperative emergency medical attention to potential victims.

“I feel these types of training programs are extremely important,” said Dr. Lilly. “It’s unfortunate that we should have to train for these types of incidents, but that is the reality of the world in which we live today. The more we train, the better we are able to serve the public and respond professionally should something like this ever actually occur here.”

Dr. Lilly reports that the creation of HPU DPS has directly correlated to a noticeable crime reduction on and immediately around campus. He attributes this positive report to the advanced training of HPU DPS personnel and recruitment of veteran officers who have had years of experience in the law enforcement field, equipping them to provide proficient protection and service to the HPU community.

He also notes the importance of partnering with local law enforcement.

“As proud as we are of the advancements we have made with regard to campus public safety, we must note that the successes we have experienced would not have been possible without the help from the Brownwood Police Department and the Brown County Sheriff’s Office,” Dr. Lilly says. “By working together we make a united force ready to deal with these types of critical incidents, should they occur on or near the campus.”

HPU introduces scholarship for local law enforcement officers

BROWNWOOD – December 10, 2014 – Howard Payne University has now made college degrees more affordable for local law enforcement officers. HPU recently announced that officers who are currently certified by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement may receive scholarships to take criminal justice classes at no cost for tuition. The officer must be working toward his or her first bachelor’s degree, meet unconditional admission requirements, major in criminal justice and be actively practicing in the field of law enforcement.

The scholarship is available at the Brownwood campus as well as at HPU’s New Braunfels and El Paso extension centers.

Chief Mike Corley of the Brownwood Police Department has worked closely with the faculty and students in HPU’s criminal justice program.

“We have HPU students intern at the police department almost every semester,” he said. “HPU’s criminal justice program is strong and growing by leaps and bounds. The scholarship for law enforcement personnel sounds awesome. What could be better?”

Lynn Humeniuk serves as associate professor of criminal justice and sociology and as director of HPU’s criminal justice program.

“HPU has a unique opportunity for peace officers who serve in the Central Texas area to aid them with obtaining their bachelor’s degrees,” she said. “It seems only fitting that we extend this scholarship to those men and women who choose to protect and serve.”

HPU is now enrolling for the spring semester. To get started, contact the Office of Admission at (325) 649-8020 or

For more information about Howard Payne University, visit

HPU Commencement scheduled for Saturday

BROWNWOOD – December 10, 2014 – Howard Payne University’s December Commencement will be held this Saturday, December 13, beginning at 10 a.m. at the Brownwood Coliseum.

Dr. Bill Ellis, university president, and other university representatives will confer 93 undergraduate and graduate degrees. Dr. Mary E. Carpenter ’75, HPU faculty member in the School of Christian Studies from 2005 to 2012, will deliver the charge to the graduates.

Additional program participants include Corey Ash ’92, associate professor of music and director of bands; Dr. Donnie Auvenshine ’75, dean of the School of Christian Studies and professor of Christian studies; Rev. Mary D’Alessio, pastor of Liberty Hill Presbyterian Church in Liberty Hill, S.C.; Dr. Gary Gramling ’81, director of the graduate program in youth ministry and professor of Christian studies; Rev. Philip D. May ’79, minister of music at Crestview Baptist Church in Georgetown; Dr. Justin D. Murphy, dean of the School of Humanities, professor of history and director of the Guy D. Newman Honors Academy; Dr. Lois Patton, director of the graduate program in business administration and professor of business administration; Dr. Leslie Plagens, dean of the School of Business and professor of business administration; Debbie Prude ’78, president of HPU’s Alumni Association; Dr. Joe Robinson, director of the instructional leadership graduate program and associate professor of education; Dr. Michael Rosato, dean of the School of Education and professor of education; Carter Sharpe, first vice chairman of the HPU Board of Trustees; Dr. W. Mark Tew, provost; Mary Elizabeth Vasquez, graduating senior from Blanket; Lana Wagner ’97, registrar; Dr. Julie Welker ’94, faculty president, professor of communication and chair of the Department of Communication Studies; and the HPU Instrumental Ensemble.

The Commencement ceremony will be preceded on Friday, December 12, by Chime Out, an HPU tradition in which graduating seniors pass a chain of ivy to underclassmen, symbolizing the passing of authority, responsibility and privileges to those students who remain on campus to carry on the traditions of the university. Chime Out begins at 6 p.m. at the university’s Mims Auditorium.

HPU celebrates the season with Christmas on the Plaza

Christmas on the Plaza for webBy Jaclyn Bonner, HPU sophomore

BROWNWOOD – December 10, 2014 – Music, Scripture readings, beautiful lights and hot cocoa once again marked the official beginning of the Christmas season at Howard Payne University. HPU recently hosted its annual Christmas on the Plaza event sponsored by the Student Activities Council (SAC).

Students, alumni and HPU personnel gathered around Old Main Tower on Tuesday, December 2, to sing carols led by Efrain Garces, sophomore from San Antonio; Bobby Martinez, sophomore from Copperas Cove; Rebekah Johnson, senior from Missoula, Mont.; and Daniel Palacios, sophomore from Kaufman. Dr. Bill Ellis, university president, then read the Christmas story as those gathered honored the birth and life of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.

Dr. Bill Fowler, associate professor of Christian studies and 1975 HPU graduate, was chosen by SAC as this year’s keynote speaker. Dr. Fowler talked about “going all in” just as Jesus exemplified through His life, earthly ministry and, ultimately, His death on the cross.

Following the program, the HPU maintenance team illuminated Old Main Park and other parts of campus with Christmas lights, which are enjoyed by both the campus community and those who drive by the university on Austin Avenue.

President Ellis and his wife, Dr. Diana Ellis, also opened their home to the student body for an evening of fellowship over hot cocoa and Christmas cookies.

Francie Clark, director of student activities, spoke of the significance of Christmas on the Plaza.

“This event serves as a great reminder that Christmas is not just about the lights and hot chocolate but also about the birth of Jesus,” she said. “We are very fortunate to work at a university where the president reads the biblical Christmas story to all the students. This tradition represents Howard Payne’s values and the blessing the university is to so many people.”


Photo cutline: HPU students celebrate Christmas on the Plaza festivities. Gathered around the Christmas lights are (back row, from left) Jaclyn Bonner, Caitlin Wood, Bailey Waller, Nicole Hamilton, Jenna Underwood and Mason Samsel. Students in the front row, from left, are Hannah Williamson, Emily Selman and Olivia Belsher.

HPU’s accreditation reaffirmed for the next decade

BROWNWOOD – December 10, 2014 – The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) announced during its annual meeting this week that the accreditation for Howard Payne University has been reaffirmed for the next ten years. HPU has been accredited by the Commission on Colleges since 1948.

During a business session in Nashville, Tenn., Tuesday morning, delegates from colleges and universities across the southern region were informed of actions taken by the Commission as a culmination of individual institutional reaccreditation efforts.

Among the delegates were Dr. Bill Ellis, HPU president; Dr. W. Mark Tew, provost and chief academic officer; and Dr. Robert Bicknell, accreditation liaison.

The reaffirmation of accreditation involves the entire campus community and includes examination of all aspects of university operation including administrative processes, academic programs, student life, library services and physical and financial resources.

Dr. Bicknell leads HPU’s efforts for reaffirmation of accreditation.

“Howard Payne’s success is due to the efforts of so many members of the faculty, staff and administration, who not only produced an accepted report, but have discovered that living by the ‘best practices’ principles of accreditation leads to ongoing success,” said Dr. Bicknell.

HPU’s accreditation was reaffirmed with no follow-up reports required.

“In 2004, the Commission on Colleges required three follow-up reports before reaffirming the university’s accreditation,” said Dr. Tew. “The reaffirmation in 2014 without any follow-up is a testimony to the culture of accreditation that exists on campus today. I am very proud of the university’s faculty, deans and administrative staff for creating such an environment.”

Dr. Ellis also lauded Dr. Bicknell and the rest of the campus community.

“Reaffirmation of accreditation requires a tremendous amount of hard work from numerous individuals on campus throughout the decade-long process,” he said. “I count HPU’s successful journey to reaccreditation among our many blessings this Christmas season.”

More than 2,000 area residents served during Thanksgiving at HPU

BROWNWOOD – December 8, 2014 – Howard Payne University and the Brownwood area started the holiday season recently with the 31st annual Community Thanksgiving Feast.

patton thanksgiving feast for webApproximately 100 volunteers from around the community served 2,127 meals to their friends and neighbors. Volunteers delivered 1,438 of those meals to homes in the area, while 689 people enjoyed the food and fellowship at HPU’s Mabee University Center.

“We could not do this each year without help from the volunteers who chose to serve others on Thanksgiving,” said Bill Fishback, assistant vice president for business and human resources. “We are very blessed to live in a country where we can freely celebrate God’s blessings with our friends.”

A variety of area business and organizations are responsible for the event’s success including the Abilene Reporter-News, Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce, Brownwood Bulletin,, KPSM, KOXE, KXYL, Kroger, Sodexo Food Service and Walmart.

“I also want to thank the people in this area who gave so graciously to support the Community Thanksgiving Feast,” said Fishback. “Again this year, we were able to pay for the food we served because of your generous donations. To everyone who helped, thank you again for reminding me that Thanksgiving really is about God’s blessings and our ability to share them with those around us.”


Photo cutline: Dr. Lois Patton, HPU professor of business administration, was among the approximately 100 volunteers at the 31st annual Community Thanksgiving Feast.

HPU to host financial aid seminars for parents of local students

BROWNWOOD – December 4, 2014 – Parents of local junior and senior high school students are invited to attend a free seminar covering general college financial aid information with an emphasis on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The event will be hosted by Glenda Huff, HPU’s director of student aid, at 6:30 p.m. on January 29 and February 5 in the Paul and Jane Meyer Faith and Life Leadership Center on the HPU campus.

According to Huff, it is extremely advantageous to begin the financial aid process as soon as possible after January 1.

“Some universities have very early priority dates for awarding financial aid funds,” she said. “These sessions are open to parents of all area students, even those not planning to enroll at HPU.”

University representatives will also discuss HPU’s Heart of Texas Scholarship Program, designed to benefit students graduating from high schools in Brown, Callahan, Coleman, Comanche, Eastland, McCulloch, Mills and San Saba counties. The scholarship awards up to $14,000 annually to students who meet unconditional admission requirements.

For more information about the seminars or scholarships, contact PJ Gramling, director of admission, at (325) 649-8406 or For more information about HPU financial aid, visit or call (325) 649-8015.

HPU’s Student Speaker Bureau competes nationally, abroad

ssb oxford for webBROWNWOOD – December 3, 2014 – HPU’s competitive speech and debate team, Student Speaker Bureau, competed recently at the Texas Intercollegiate Forensics Association fall championship tournament held at Texas Christian University and at the Oxford Inter-Varsity Debating Competition held in Oxford, England.

Freshman Braxton Clark, communication and political science major from Southlake, won fifth place top speaker at the TCU tournament.

“For a freshman to step in and win fifth best speaker at this tournament is quite an accomplishment,” said Dr. Julie Welker, head of the Department of Communication and SSB coach. “Most of the top 10 speakers are seasoned juniors and seniors. Braxton is an outstanding debater and I’m excited to see what he will do in the future.”

Following the tournament at TCU, the team traveled to Oxford to compete in the Oxford Inter-Varsity Debating Competition, one of the largest and most prestigious debating competitions on the UK University circuit and globally.

In Oxford, the team competed in a different debate format, British Parliamentary Debate. In this format, four teams of two debaters each compete in a round. Students have eight years of eligibility in this debate format so HPU teams debated graduate students, including doctoral candidates and law students.

“What makes this type of debate so challenging is that each debate round is a new topic,” said Welker. “These students have to be versed in many world topics, not just one issue. In this tournament alone, they debated about Hungarian politics, the parliament voting system, human rights issues, freelance journalism in war zones and ethnic-based political parties.”

HPU competed against teams from University of Cambridge, Stanford University, Colgate University and many other universities around the world. There were almost 300 competitors at this tournament.

“Only 16 students advance to finals at this tournament so, strategically, it is very hard to advance,” said Welker. “However, our HPU teams beat many other good schools, including one of the teams in the finals. That is a huge accomplishment, and I’m very proud of our team.”

Students who competed in both tournaments included Clark; Marcos Corley, senior criminal justice major from Corpus Christi; Meg Eakin, sophomore communication major from Plano; Adam Jones, junior youth ministry and Guy D. Newman Honors Academy major from Irving; Luis Rodriguez Ortiz, freshman English and Guy D. Newman Honors Academy major from Brownsville; Jared Russell, senior theatre major from Hillsboro; Kaleigh Tankersley, senior communication major from Iraan; and Dorie Walton, senior communication major from Lolita.

After the tournament in Oxford, the team traveled to London where they visited the Tower of London, the Houses of Parliament and many other attractions.


Photo cutline: HPU’s Student Speaker Bureau recently competed in Oxford, England. Pictured at the famed Oxford Union are, from left, Dr. Julie Welker, Braxton Clark, Adam Jones, Kaleigh Tankersley, Marcos Corley, Meg Eakin, Jared Russell, Dorie Walton and Luis Rodriguez.

HPU Moot Court team wins regionals, advances to nationals

By Jaclyn Bonner, HPU sophomore

BROWNWOOD – December 3, 2014 –Howard Payne University pre-law students once again brought the university to the spotlight with successes in Moot Court. For the second year in a row, HPU students won the Texas Undergraduate Moot Court Association (TUMCA) regional competition and advanced to the national American Collegiate Moot Court Association (ACMA) tournament.

Sommers and Bonner for webKatie Rose Bonner, a senior political science pre-law, history and Guy D. Newman Honors Academy major from Lytle, and Isaac Sommers, a freshman social sciences jurisprudence and Guy D. Newman Honors Academy major from Boerne, recently earned the title of TUMCA champions at the Texas A&M School of Law Moot Court Tournament in Fort Worth.

The team dominated with Sommers receiving the prestigious Top Overall Speaker award and Bonner following closely with recognition as third overall speaker. The team’s success gave them an automatic bid to the ACMA National Tournament to be held at Florida International University College of Law in January.

Freshmen Moot Court partners Jakob Morgan, a social sciences jurisprudence and Guy D. Newman Honors Academy major from Blanket, and Skyler Schoolfield, a social sciences jurisprudence, communication and Guy D. Newman Honors Academy major from Aledo, also competed at the TUMCA tournament, finishing as quarterfinalists. Morgan and Schoolfield’s success later garnered them a bid to the national competition as well.

A portion of HPU’s Moot Court team also attended the recent Texas Tech School of Law Moot Court Tournament in Lubbock. Rebeca Puente, a sophomore political science pre-law and Guy D. Newman Honors Academy major from Texarkana, placed as the eighth overall speaker.

Moot Court is an experiential learning program that offers students the opportunity to cultivate their understanding of law interpretation, analytical debate, jurisprudence and case precedents. Students learn to argue both sides of two theoretical cases involving constitutional issues before a simulated United States Supreme Court. The team is led by Lorianna Kelley, assistant professor of political science.

“Howard Payne University has consistently shown great success competing in collegiate Moot Court,” said Kelley. “The students put in countless hours of work and preparation, and we love seeing that hard work recognized.”

Bonner, a three-year member of the team and two-time regional champion, reflected on her experience as an HPU Moot Court participant.

“Moot Court is one of the greatest opportunities I have received through Howard Payne,” she said. “The program at this school is truly phenomenal, as evidenced by the long record of HPU tournament wins. I am honored to be a part of that tradition, along with my excellent partner, Isaac. I am also grateful for the chance to be coached by Professor Kelley, a past national Moot Court champion, and for the fun and great dynamic we have with everyone on the team.”

Sommers echoed her sentiment.

“As a freshman at Howard Payne and as someone planning to study law, Moot Court has proven to be an absolutely invaluable experience for me,” he said. “The skills I am learning will better equip me for law school and would be beneficial for anyone regardless of profession.”

Additional team members include Nicole Nehf, a senior from May; Christopher Mitchell, a senior from Wolf City; Colton McCabe, a senior from Gatesville; Zachary Eller, a junior from Temple; Andres Zambrano, a junior from Lake Brownwood; Caitlin Wood, a junior from Miles; J. Brian Bailey, a sophomore from Gunter; and Dani Coquat, a freshman from Three Rivers.

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, voiced his gratitude for those who give HPU students opportunities to succeed.

“God has blessed HPU and the Academy through the members of the Academy Board of Directors,” he said. “We would not be able to provide opportunities like this without their support over the years in establishing endowments and making gifts. I am also so very grateful to have a colleague with the credentials and leadership skills of Professor Kelley.”


Photo cutline: HPU’s Isaac Sommers and Katie Rose Bonner were named Texas Undergraduate Moot Court Association regional champions at the recent Texas A&M School of Law Moot Court Tournament in Fort Worth.

HPU to celebrate birth of Christ through readings and music

BROWNWOOD – December 2, 2014 – Howard Payne University’s School of Music and Fine Arts will present its annual Service of Lessons and Carols this Sunday at 8 p.m. at St. John’s Church in Brownwood. The service includes Scripture readings about the prophecies and coming of Christ and music that reflects on the passages being read.

HPU faculty members will read the Scriptures and the university’s Heritage Singers will perform the musical selections with Dr. Allen Reed, professor of music, accompanying.

The event is based on the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols at King’s College, Cambridge, first held on Christmas Eve 1918. The service was first broadcast in 1928 and, with the exception of 1930, has broadcast annually. In the United States, the service airs on approximately 300 radio stations.

The university’s Heritage Singers are under the direction of Dr. Monte Garrett, professor of music and director of choral activities.

“The Service of Lessons and Carols is a great way to usher in the Christmas season,” said Dr. Garrett. “We invite the community to join us as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ through Scripture readings and music.”

St. John’s Church is located at 700 Main Street in Brownwood. For more information about the event, contact HPU’s School of Music and Fine Arts at (325) 649-8500.