News Archives

HPU’s Student Speaker Bureau excels at championship tournament

SSB TIFA 15 for webBROWNWOOD – February 19, 2015 – Howard Payne University’s competitive speech and debate team, Student Speaker Bureau, competed at the Texas Intercollegiate Forensics Association spring championship tournament recently at Texas A&M University. The team won 3rd place overall debate sweepstakes, 5th place overall sweepstakes and had one student named to the Texas All-State Forensics Squad.

“We came in 3rd place overall debate with only three debate teams, behind Texas State University and Texas A&M University,” said Dr. Julie Welker, professor of communication, chair of the Department of Communication and SSB coach. “When a university the size of HPU with a small team comes in right behind bigger universities, it is impressive.”

HPU freshman Braxton Clark of Southlake was named the 4th place parliamentary debate speaker.

“Braxton is an outstanding debater,” Dr. Welker said. “Earning 4th place against seasoned debaters from A&M and TSU is quite an accomplishment.”

Additionally, senior Marcos Corley of Corpus Christi was named to the prestigious Texas All-State Forensics Squad. Students awarded this honor are nominated and voted on by the officers of the Texas Intercollegiate Forensics Association and must meet stringent criteria for selection.

“Marcos has been on the speech and debate team for four years,” said Dr. Welker. “He has advanced to several quarterfinal rounds in debate and proven himself to be a competitor with whom to be reckoned. He has been a leader on our team. I’m very pleased that he was recognized with this honor.”

Other students who competed at the tournament were Adam Jones, sophomore communication, youth ministry and Guy D. Newman Honors Academy major from Irving; Ashley Moon, senior communication major from Waxahachie; Luis Rodriguez Ortiz, freshman English and Guy D. Newman Honors Academy major from Early; and Kaleigh Tankersley, senior communication major from Iraan.

The team will attend three more tournaments this semester in Oklahoma, Washington, D.C., and Colorado.

“It’s always a challenge to compete against schools from other states,” said Dr. Welker. “Each region has a distinct debating style, and our teams have to adapt quickly to them. I’m excited to see how we do over the rest of the semester.”


Photo cutline: HPU’s Student Speaker Bureau recently competed at the Texas Intercollegiate Forensics Association spring championship tournament. Left to right: Adam Jones, Marcos Corley, Kaleigh Tankersley, Braxton Clark, Ashley Moon, Luis Rodriguez Ortiz and Dr. Julie Welker.

HPU students bring home sportsmanship award from first Mock Trial tournament

Mock Trial team 2015 for webBy Emily Peisker, HPU junior

BROWNWOOD – February 19, 2015 – Howard Payne University’s new Mock Trial team brought home a sportsmanship award from their first tournament held recently at The University of Texas at Dallas.

The American Mock Trial Association gives the “Spirit of the AMTA Award” to the team with the best expression of the values of civility, justice and fair play over the course of the whole tournament, before, during and after trials. The award is voted on by the competition teams and officials, and recognizes the team as best exemplifying the ethics and values of the association.

Mock Trial is a simulation of lower-court trials in the United States judicial system. AMTA acts as the governing body for intercollegiate Mock Trial competition and hosts tournaments at universities across the nation to provide opportunities for college students to gain experience for future law careers. Through the trial simulations, students develop critical thinking and public speaking skills, as well as a knowledge of legal practices and procedures.

According to the AMTA website, the organization hosts a series of competitions from February through April each year to foster the development of undergraduate students in the areas of leadership, public speaking, rhetoric and persuasion through a legal forum.

New to HPU this semester, Mock Trial is a team activity led by Lorianna Kelley, assistant professor of political science. Nicole Nehf, a senior from May, serves as team captain. Other members include TJ Counce, a senior from Lockhart; Zachary Eller, a junior from Temple; Christopher Mitchell, a senior from Pecos; Jakob Morgan, a sophomore from Blanket; Madeline Reigle, a sophomore from Brownwood; Skyler Schoolfield, a freshman from Aledo; and Andres Zambrano, a junior from Brownwood.

At tournaments, the team competes as either the plaintiff or prosecution and as the defense. On each side of the case, three students compete as attorneys and three students compete as witnesses.

“The students attended this competition with only three weeks of preparation time,” said Kelley. “They performed incredibly well, especially given the short amount of time they had been working on the case.”


Photo cutline: HPU’s new Mock Trial team brought home a sportsmanship award from their first tournament held recently at The University of Texas at Dallas. Left to right: Christopher Mitchell, Nicole Nehf, Madeline Reigle, Zachary Eller, Jakob Morgan, Andres Zambrano and Skyler Schoolfield. Not pictured is TJ Counce.

HPU retiree’s involvement with university spans six decades

bobbie jo stewart for webBROWNWOOD – February 18, 2015 – Bobbie Jo Stewart, who recently retired from Howard Payne University’s Walker Memorial Library, spent 11 years in her most recent role at HPU, but her involvement with the university dates back much farther than that.

“I was 5 when I started preschool at Howard Payne,” Stewart says. “It was on the bottom floor of what is now the Wellness Center.”

The program, no longer in operation, was begun in the late 1940s by Nila Wright, wife of then-football coach Felton “Pooch” Wright, for children whose birthdays fell outside the cutoff period for public school.

“The options were to either stay out of school for another year or pay tuition at Howard Payne like a regular student,” Stewart says.

At age 11, she also began taking piano lessons at Howard Payne, which she continued until she graduated from college. Just three days after her high school graduation in 1961, Stewart sat in her first class, Music Appreciation, as a Howard Payne College freshman.

“I thought that I had finally arrived because I was a student in a real college class at Howard Payne,” she says. “It felt special to me even though I had technically been considered a student for a number of years.”

She fondly remembers her time as a student at Howard Payne, receiving instruction from such revered HPU faculty members as the late Dr. George Baker, then head of the music department, and the late Dr. Cleo McChristy, then head of the English department.

“One interesting set of circumstances that I had not considered when I became a freshman at Howard Payne was that many of my professors had also taught my parents,” Stewart says. “I vividly remember the first classroom experience I had with Dr. McChristy. She called roll and when she came to my name she stopped and said, ‘Well, Miss Sims, are you going to be as smart as your parents were?’ Both my parents had been honor students, so I was constantly being compared. Consequently, I had to be on my toes all the time.”

Stewart completed her five-year Bachelor of Music Education degree in less than four years, graduating in August 1964. In the 1990s, she returned to HPU as an adjunct instructor in the music department.

“I taught Class Piano I and II as well as private piano lessons,” she says. “I also taught later in the Pre-College Music program.”

Stewart has also taught private piano lessons and been involved in church music in the roles of pianist, organist or choir director for more than 40 years.

She was sidelined for a lengthy period of time following emergency open-heart surgery in December 1993. When her health permitted, she was eager to be a Howard Payne employee once again. She came back to HPU as a custodian for a few weeks prior to beginning her most recent role as circulation and music library supervisor in 2003.

The thought of retirement often brings to mind images of rest and relaxation, but Stewart has different plans for her newfound time.

“Oh, there won’t be any ‘taking it easy and letting the grass grow under my feet’,” she says, laughing.

Chief among her priorities is finally having the opportunity to begin “married life” with her husband of almost two years, retired school administrator Wayne Stewart.

“Within a few weeks after we were married, Wayne became seriously ill,” she says. “Shortly after he began to get better, I became ill with cancer.”

Successive health issues, combined with the tragic death of their granddaughter, two-year-old Parker in August 2014, has taken a great toll on the newlyweds. Their faith in God, however, has carried them through their various challenges.

“These difficult times have made us more aware of God’s grace and handiwork,” Stewart says. “One truly can find something beautiful in every situation, no matter how dire. Even though we plan to be busy in our retirement, it will afford us the time to reflect on the many blessings God has given us and ‘be there’ for others going through tragic circumstances.”

Nancy Anderson, who retired as HPU’s dean of libraries in 2014, says Stewart’s rapport with students was her greatest strength as a university employee.

“Bobbie Jo was always smiling and greeted each person who came into the library,” says Anderson. “Not just with a casual ‘good morning,’ but with a genuine greeting that meant something.”

Stewart says she wishes she could continue that interaction with students.

“I told President (Dr. Bill) Ellis that I wish I could recruit from home,” she says. “My blood truly is ‘blue ’n gold.’”

According to Dr. Ellis, that level of commitment among HPU’s faculty and staff is what makes HPU special.

“It is an honor getting to work with people like Bobbie Jo who care deeply about the success of our students,” he says. “We will miss seeing her smiling face and wish her all the best in her retirement.”

Stewart feels HPU has something that many larger universities do not.

“Not only is Howard Payne an institution of higher learning, but it also goes way beyond that,” she says. “Everyone on this campus is someone truly special – it feels like one big, closely-knit family.”


Photo cutline: Bobbie Jo Stewart recently retired from her role as circulation and music library supervisor at Howard Payne University.

Howard Payne University hosting national art exhibition

By Emily Peisker, HPU junior

BROWNWOOD – February 18, 2015 – Howard Payne University is hosting “Above and Below I-10: Cross Country 2015,” a national art exhibition that will run through March 27. The I-10 show is on display at the Dorothy and Wendell Mayes Art Gallery in the Doakie Day Art Center on campus.

i10 art show for webChristopher Shade, juror for the exhibition, selected 52 two-dimensional works by 31 artists from around the country to participate in the show. He collaborated with Professor David Harmon, chair of the HPU Department of Art, to install the exhibition at HPU.

Shade, a native of Austin, currently resides in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, New York, where he teaches drawing, painting and color theory at Montclair State University in New Jersey. He received his Master of Fine Arts degree in painting from the Yale University School of Art and his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting from The University of Texas at Austin. Shade has had solo exhibitions in galleries in Austin and Dallas and group exhibitions in New York, Philadelphia, Houston, San Francisco, Germany, Mexico, South Korea and New Zealand. He has taught plein air painting in Paris, France, and has curated numerous group shows.

The exhibition was open to all living U.S. contemporary artists residing above and below Interstate 10, the southernmost transcontinental highway starting in Los Angeles, California, and traveling through several states, including Texas, and ending in Jacksonville, Florida. The main purpose of the show was to represent the American theme of connectivity of land, road, transportation and travel.

The pieces from the gallery were sent by artists from California, Texas, Virginia, Ohio, New York, New Jersey, Georgia and Tennessee with a variety of media represented. The exhibition was limited to two-dimensional works, resulting in watercolor, acrylic, drawing, collage, photography and mixed-media pieces.

Alec Dartley, an artist from New Jersey, took the first place award with an ink drawing titled “Exploding Tree.” Michael Lee, a New York artist, placed second with a mixed-media piece titled “In Between,” while Alyssa Fanning, an artist from New Jersey, received third place with an oil painting titled “Shift.”

“The work is extremely varied from abstraction to realism and everything in between,” said Harmon.

Visitors can view the exhibition through March 27, Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The gallery is closed during HPU’s Spring Break, March 9-13.


Photo cutline: Chandler Condra, a senior from Fredericksburg, views the pieces at HPU’s “Above and Below I-10: Cross Country 2015” national art exhibition. Photo by Emily Peisker.

HPU youth ministry conference to address “The Elephants in the Room”

Perspective rectangle logoBROWNWOOD – February 16, 2015 – Howard Payne University will host its annual Perspectives on Youth Ministry Conference tomorrow and Wednesday, February 17 and 18. The conference is open to all youth ministry personnel at a cost of $45, which includes five conferences, round-table discussions, one dinner and one breakfast. The cost for students is $25.

Themed “The Elephants in the Room,” the conference will address some of the most difficult and least discussed issues in youth ministry including pornography, incarcerated youth, abuse and teenage sexuality/identity. Additional topics include opportunities for progress such as women in ministry and the growing Hispanic population.

“While they present new challenges, churches need to be prepared to minister to students who are dealing with these types of issues,” said Dr. Gary Gramling, professor of Christian studies and director of HPU’s Christian studies graduate programs. “We’ve gathered insightful speakers who will offer fresh approaches to these topics.”

Guest speakers include Pamela Culbertson, veteran youth minister from Dallas; Dan Humeniuk, assistant professor of social work and chair of HPU’s Department of Criminal Justice, Social Work and Sociology; Lynn Humeniuk, associate professor of criminal justice and sociology and director of HPU’s criminal justice program; Paul Irby, therapist at Ministry of Counseling and Enrichment in Abilene; Dr. Allen Jackson, professor of youth education and collegiate ministry at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary; Dr. Jimmy Myers, adolescent counselor at The Timothy Center in Austin; Dr. Gus Reyes, director of the Christian Life Commission of the Baptist General Convention of Texas; and Marisha Tyler, marriage and family therapist in Lubbock.

A complete schedule of events, registration information and more details are available at Event organizers may be reached at (325) 649-8039 or via e-mail at

Howard Payne receives continued funding for restorative justice emphasis

By Emily Peisker, HPU junior

Lynn Humeniuk in class for webBROWNWOOD – February 12, 2015 – Howard Payne University has received 2015 funding for the restorative justice emphasis of its criminal justice program from the Baptist General Convention of Texas. The BGCT has assisted with the emphasis since 2006.

The restorative justice emphasis is available for criminal justice majors and minors. HPU offers a four-class rotation that grants students certificates of completion after conclusion. The BGCT assists with funding to pay an adjunct instructor to teach the classes each semester. The funds have also been used to sponsor a trip to an academic conference for a professor and student.

Restorative justice is a theory that proposes assisting guilty parties in repairing damages caused by criminal behavior. Many churches believe in the theory and work with universities to provide programs that equip students with communication, social work and criminal justice training.

The BGCT met with Lynn Humeniuk, director of HPU’s criminal justice program and associate professor of criminal justice and sociology, and representatives from seven other private Christian universities nine years ago to propose starting a focus on restorative justice in the universities’ criminal justice programs. HPU was the only university to accept the funding and has since awarded eight students with certificates of completion.

Students in the program have gone on to assist the community by aiding juvenile and adult probation programs, the Ron Jackson Juvenile Correctional Complex, the Brown County Sheriff’s Office, G4S: The Oaks, local attorney offices, local youth ministries and more programs outside the Brownwood area.

Humeniuk and Kim Bryant, associate professor of communication, serve as fulltime professors with the restorative justice emphasis, while other instructors fill in part-time positions aided by the BGCT.

“This concept of bringing victims, offenders, families and communities together for forgiveness and healing is a perfect fit for a Christian university to offer to our students,” said Humeniuk.


Photo cutline: Lynn Humeniuk directs the criminal justice program at Howard Payne University.

HPU named January Business of the Month by Early Chamber of Commerce

early chamber and ellis for webBROWNWOOD – February 4, 2015 – The Early Chamber of Commerce named Howard Payne University its Business of the Month for January 2015. Chamber members visited campus to tour the recently renovated Mabee University Center and receive campus updates from Dr. Bill Ellis, HPU president.

Among other accomplishments, Dr. Ellis touted the recent successes of HPU student organizations and gave updates on building projects. He also announced to the Chamber the creation of HPU’s fifth master’s degree program, the Master of Education in Sport and Wellness Leadership (SWELL).


Photo cutline: The Early Chamber of Commerce named HPU its Business of the Month for January 2015. Chamber members are pictured with Dr. Bill Ellis, seventh from right, HPU president.

HPU to host information sessions for new master’s degree program

BROWNWOOD – February 3, 2015 – Those interested in learning more about Howard Payne University’s new Master of Education in Sport and Wellness Leadership (SWELL) degree program are encouraged to attend one of two upcoming informational sessions.

The sessions will be held February 5 and February 19 at 6 p.m. at the Brownwood Coliseum. Complimentary light refreshments will be served and those who attend will receive free admission to the Yellow Jacket basketball games that follow. The Lady Jackets will tip off at 5:30 p.m. each evening.

The SWELL program is designed to prepare those who are entering into or wish to advance in the sport and/or wellness industries. Classes will begin in August for the fall 2015 semester.

The program is an affordable option for those looking to impact lives through careers that emphasize the importance of health.

“Not only is SWELL the most affordable master’s degree in Texas for professionals entering or employed in the sport and wellness industries, we’ve also designed it to be one of the most accessible,” said Dr. Graham Hatcher, chair of HPU’s Department of Exercise and Sport Science (ESS) and ESS professor.

The program is designed for both full-time and part-time students with most classes scheduled in the evenings to accommodate work schedules. Limited campus housing and board plans are available for those who may wish to live on campus. In addition, competitive graduate assistantships will be available to help offset the cost of tuition.

While many graduate programs across the country focus solely on either the sport industry or wellness industry, SWELL adapts the core knowledge and skill sets of each into a comprehensive program. Consequently, SWELL graduates may find greater career flexibility and opportunity for service.

“We’ve created a holistic program that includes instruction in a variety of topics that revolve around impacting the quality of life for American citizens,” said Dr. Hatcher. “As with all HPU academic programs, the SWELL courses will be enriched by the university’s faith tradition.”

Courses include instruction on legal and ethical aspects of sport/wellness, marketing and public relations, event planning, resource management and more. Students will enter the SWELL program in cohort groups, beginning fall 2015. The program consists of 10 courses and 30 graduate hours, and can be completed in 20 months.

For more information about the SWELL program, visit or e-mail

HPU alumnus Dr. Juan Andrade named a “Chicagoan of the Year”

Dr Juan Andrade Jr for webBROWNWOOD – January 30, 2015 – Dr. Juan Andrade Jr., a 1970 Howard Payne University graduate, was recently named a “Chicagoan of the Year (2014)” by Chicago Magazine. Originally from Brownwood, Dr. Andrade serves as president of the Chicago-based United States Hispanic Leadership Institute (USHLI).

After graduating from HPU, Dr. Andrade went on to complete a master’s degree at Antioch College in Ohio, doctoral and education specialist degrees from Northern Illinois University and a post-doctorate master’s degree from Loyola University Chicago. HPU awarded Dr. Andrade an honorary doctor of humanities degree in 1999, one of five he has received to date.

The USHLI is one of the most powerful and recognized Latino organizations in the country, organizing and conducting nonpartisan voter registration and leadership development programs in 40 states. According to the organization, Dr. Andrade is the fourth of only five Latinos in history to be decorated by the President of the United States (Bill Clinton) “for the performance of exemplary deeds of service for the nation” and “promoting leadership and civic participation.” He also received the Ohtli Award from the government of Mexico, the nation’s highest honor presented to a civilian not living in Mexico.

Dr. Andrade remains a staunch supporter of HPU. In 1974, he founded the Dr. José Rivas Memorial Scholarship Fund and in 2001 created the Hispanic Alumni Fellowship Scholarship Fund to assist Hispanic students attending the university.

“Dr. Andrade’s continuous support of HPU is a blessing to the university, and we’re exceedingly proud of his accomplishments,” said Dr. Bill Ellis, president.

In a video produced by Chicago Magazine, Dr. Andrade said his career has been a great journey.

“I couldn’t have dreamed a dream bigger than what I’m living today,” he said.

He encourages young people to pursue their own dreams while reaching out to others.

“Servant leadership is not about how high you can climb,” he said. “It’s how wide you can reach. If we let our dreams drive our vision, we can be about the business of reaching far and wide. We can get our arms around as many people as we can and lift them up rather than just trying to elevate ourselves to the highest point possible.”


Photo cutline: Dr. Juan Andrade Jr., 1970 HPU alumnus, was recently named a “Chicagoan of the Year” by Chicago Magazine.

HPU to celebrate Black History Month with special Chapel service

BROWNWOOD – January 30, 2015 – Howard Payne University will celebrate the lives and achievements of African-Americans during the past 100 years at a Black History Recognition Chapel service on Wednesday, February 4, at 10 a.m. The service, to be held in the university’s Mims Auditorium, is hosted each year in honor of Black History Month.

HPU students and members of the HPU African-American Alumni Association will be the primary participants and act as narrators for the presentation. Alexandra Galloway ’11 serves as the association’s president. The program is written and directed by Wilbert Rogers ’75. Gladys Murray ’79 serves as the assistant coordinator and technical specialist.

The program will celebrate significant events and accomplishments from each decade, including a special remembrance of the 50th anniversary of the historic march from Selma to Montgomery.

“We’re very thankful for the leadership of Mr. Rogers and Mrs. Murray in developing an educational, creative, and inspiring program for our campus community,” said Dr. Magen Bunyard, vice president for student life and dean of students.