News Archives

HPU honors 11 during Alumni and Sports Hall of Fame Banquet

BROWNWOOD – November 12, 2014 – As part of its Homecoming 2014 festivities, Howard Payne University recognized 11 individuals for their contributions to the university and beyond during the annual Alumni and Sports Hall of Fame Banquet.

This year’s honorees included Dr. Thomas Collins ’96, Distinguished Alumnus; Dr. Hilary B. Graves ’50, Distinguished Alumnus; Benjamin E. Hoover ’03, Outstanding Young Graduate; Marilynn Bock Jackson ’73, Coming Home Queen; Leo ’50 and Jane ’52 Lacey, Medal of Service; Dr. Ray ’50 and Nancy ’48 Ellis, Grand Marshals; Meia Daniels ’08, Sports Hall of Fame; Chris Kielsmeier, Sports Hall of Fame; and Dr. Don Newbury ’61, Sports Hall of Fame.

Drs. Bill and Diana Ellis, HPU president and first lady, presented each honoree with a trophy recognizing their accomplishments.

“I was very pleased to help recognize these individuals who have all contributed greatly to society,” said Dr. Bill Ellis. “They make the university proud.”

Collins banquet for web

Dr. Thomas Collins graduated from HPU in 1996 before going on to receive his medical degree from The University of Texas Medical School at Houston in 2000. He has since held a large number of professional and academic positions.

Dr. Collins currently serves at University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics in a variety of roles including the transplant fellowship program director for the Division of Transplant and Hepatobiliary Surgery, director of liver transplant for the Organ Transplant Center, director of procedural skills and simulation and clinical associate professor of surgery.

In addition to being named an Outstanding Young Graduate by HPU in 2006, Dr. Collins received the Webber Prize for Student Research in 1997 from The University of Texas Medical School at Houston. Additionally, he has published a number of book chapters and peer-reviewed papers.

Graves banquet for web

Dr. Hilary B. Graves came to Howard Payne College in 1947 after being called by God to preach. He graduated in 1950 at the same time as his wife, Ruth. He then graduated from Southwestern Theological Seminary in Fort Worth. While attending both Howard Payne and Southwestern, he pastored small community colleges around Brownwood and Fort Worth. He subsequently completed his doctorate in theology at Trinity University in Evanston, Indiana.

Dr. Graves pastored churches in Texas and southwestern Oklahoma throughout his long ministry. Additionally, he has preached in revivals throughout the Southwest, led crusades in California, Oregon and Washington and preached in crusades in Spain, Germany, The Netherlands, Australia and Hong Kong.

Dr. Graves’ first wife, Ruth, passed away in 1980 and Mildred, his second wife, passed away in 2000. After marrying his current wife, Jo Ann, in 2001, the couple felt called to home mission work in Vermont. There they pastored one church and started two others between 2002 and 2008.

Dr. Graves has three children – Ben (who graduated from HPU in 1974), Phoi and Tori.

Hoover banquet for web

Benjamin E. Hoover was the first of three brothers to graduate from HPU. While at the university, Hoover participated in the Student Government Association. He graduated from HPU in 2003 and went on to law school at Texas Tech University.

After graduation, Hoover served as an assistant district attorney with the Wichita County District Attorney’s Office from 2006 to 2012 before moving into private practice at The Nix Law Firm in Wichita Falls. He is past president of the Wichita County Bar Association and was elected to the Wichita Falls City Council in May 2013.

Hoover’s wife, Meagan, is a labor and delivery nurse at United Regional Hospital and the couple has two young children, Grant and Blair.

Jackson parade for web

Before going on to a lengthy career with the university, Marilynn Bock Jackson graduated Summa Cum Laude from Howard Payne in 1973 with a degree in psychology and minor in sociology. She subsequently earned a master’s degree from Abilene Christian University in 1976.

Jackson has had many roles at HPU including associate professor of psychology, director of testing, director of counseling and director of career services. Additionally, she served as the community counselor for First Baptist Church of Brownwood, area churches and disadvantaged members of the community.

She served as secretary of HPU’s Retired Personnel Association and has served on the boards of numerous community organizations including the Brown County United Way, the Heart of Texas Brown Baptist Association Task Force, the Executive Board of Good Samaritan Ministries and more.

Jackson is a volunteer and past president of the Auxiliary at the Brownwood Regional Hospital; a regular speaker for Christian Women’s Job Corps; and the Good Samaritan volunteer coordinator for First Baptist Church of Brownwood.

She was married in 1957 to William Donald Jackson, now deceased. The couple has two children, Stephen Lee Jackson and Laurie Jackson Sellers.

Laceys halftime for web

Leo and Jane (Black) Lacey first met at Howard Payne in 1950 though they did not marry until 1988. Leo enrolled at the university in 1946 and was a letterman on the Yellow Jacket track team from 1948 to 1950. The lettermen of the 1948 team were honored during the Homecoming celebrations 60 years later in 2008. Among other accomplishments at Howard Payne, he was president of his senior class and a member of Future Teachers of America and the first Veterans Club.

Following graduation, he spent one year teaching and coaching before his life changed direction and he began a 39-year career with Texaco, Inc. (now Chevron-Texaco). His wife passed away in June 1986. At HPU late the next year, he reconnected with Jane Black, who had also recently lost her spouse. The pair renewed their relationship and were married in May 1988.

During her Howard Payne days, Jane (Black) Lacey was a yell leader and writer for the Yellow Jacket student newspaper. Among other accomplishments, she was named to the Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities list, the Who’s Who on Campus list and was a member of the Jacket Coeds and Alpha Chi. She was honored as the Coming Home Queen in 2001.

The Laceys have four children from their previous marriages: Tom Turman, Dick Turman, Debbie (Lacey) Owen and Michael Lacey (deceased). They also have seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Ellises parade for web

Dr. Ray and Nancy (Greer) Ellis met as students at Howard Payne during a debate tournament on the campus of Abilene Christian University. They fell in love and married a year later. Returning from war, he received his master’s and doctoral degrees while she taught school.

The couple moved to Abilene when Dr. Ellis began teaching New Testament and Greek at Hardin-Simmons University. He later became dean of graduate studies at HSU and retired from the university in 1993 after 36 years.

When their children were older, Mrs. Ellis entered HSU, earning her master’s degree in education. She was the associational president of the Woman’s Missionary Union for six years, an organization comprised of 48 Baptist churches in Taylor and Callahan Counties. Additionally, she teaches a women’s Sunday School Class at First Baptist Church of Abilene.

Among other roles in the community, she is an emeriti member of the Abilene Woman’s Club, past president of the Hardin-Simmons Round Table and the Twenty-One clubs, and a member of the Abilene Harmony Club and the American Association of University Women. She is also a member of the HPU Woman’s Club and serves on the Board of Development at HSU.

The couple has three children – Bill, Bob and Nancy. Dr. Bill Ellis is president of HPU; Dr. Bob Ellis is associate dean of Logsdon Seminary at HSU; and Dr. Nancy (Ellis) Kucinski holds the position her father once held, dean of graduate studies at HSU.

Kielsmeier banquet for web

In eight seasons at HPU, Chris Kielsmeier compiled an impressive 179-44 record as head coach of the women’s basketball team and led the Lady Jackets to a 33-0 record and the NCAA Division III National championship in 2007-08.

He was the winningest women’s basketball coach in HPU history, coaching the school to four straight appearances (2005-08) in the NCAA Division III National Tournament.

At HPU, he won a national title, two divisional championships and three conference tournament titles. He is a three-time conference Coach of the Year and was twice named Region Coach of the Year. Kielsmeier was named the WBCA South Region and National Coach of the Year in 2007-08 and was selected the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches Small College Coach of the Year.

He is currently the head women’s coach at Wayne State College in Wayne, Nebraska.

Daniels parade for web

As one of Kielsmeier’s players, Meia Daniels was 109-12 over four seasons leading the Lady Jackets to three American Southwest Conference championships, four NCAA III national tournament appearances and a NCAA III National Championship in 2008. A 2008 HPU graduate, Daniels holds seven HPU career, season and game records and five American Southwest Conference records. She is second in career scoring at HPU with 2,118 points.

Daniels received numerous honors as a player at HPU including multiple All-Conference selections, National Player of the Year in 2008, two-time ASC Tournament MVP, two-time Regional Player of the Year and two-time All-American. She was also twice named the American Southwest Conference Athlete of the Year.

After leaving HPU, Daniels spent two seasons as the women’s basketball graduate assistant at Wayne State College in Wayne, Nebraska. She helped guide the Wayne State program to a NSIC Conference Championship in 2010.

She currently serves as the head women’s basketball coach at HPU.

Newbury parade for web

Dr. Don Newbury holds bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from HPU, The University of Texas and The University of North Texas, respectively, with post-doctoral study at Notre Dame University. In 2008, he received HPU’s highest award, the honorary Doctor of Humanities degree.

While at HPU, he was sports editor of the college newspaper, sportswriter for the local newspaper and sports director for the radio station. During a six-year stint as publicity director of the Lone Star Conference, he hosted a syndicated weekly radio program with LSC coaches; it was carried by radio stations across Texas. He also was a correspondent for several major Texas newspapers and received the National Award of Merit from the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics in Kansas City for his work in intercollegiate sports promotion.

During his 40 years in higher education, Dr. Newbury spent almost half of his career in presidencies, including Western Texas College in Snyder (1980-85) and HPU (1986-1997). He currently serves as HPU’s chancellor.

Dr. Newbury was a member of the Council of Presidents of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and served as president of the Texas Intercollegiate Athletic Association and its successor, the American Southwest Athletic Conference. He was the first president inducted into the conference’s Hall of Honor and was author of the league’s “Code of Conduct” to promote sportsmanship.

Now a fulltime speaker and writer, Dr. Newbury’s reputation as an outstanding speaker is well-known. In his talks, he reflects on his years as a sportswriter and broadcaster, game official and sports publicist for the Lone Star Athletic Conference, president of an intercollegiate athletic conference and member of a national policy-making body for intercollegiate athletics. He is in his 11th year of writing a weekly column, “The Idle American.” It now runs in about 200 newspapers with circulation totaling approximately one million.

Dr. Newbury is married to the former Brenda Pack of Alpine. They have three daughters, all of whom have been public school teachers: Julie (Mrs. Bryan) Choate of Burleson; Jana (Mrs. Kyle) Penney of Tyler; and Jeanie (Mrs. Ryan) McDaniel of Burleson. The Newburys have six grandchildren.


Photo cutlines:

Dr. Thomas Collins ’96 (right) was named a 2014 Distinguished Alumnus of HPU. He is pictured with Drs. Bill and Diana Ellis, HPU president and first lady.

Dr. Hilary B. Graves ’50 (right) was named a 2014 Distinguished Alumnus of HPU. He is pictured with Dr. Bill Ellis, HPU president.

Benjamin E. Hoover ’03 was named a 2014 Outstanding Young Graduate of HPU. He is pictured with his award during the Alumni and Sports Hall of Fame Banquet.

Marilynn Bock Jackson ’73 was named the 2014 HPU Coming Home Queen. She is pictured riding in the HPU Homecoming Parade.

Leo ’50 and Jane ’52 Lacey were the 2014 Medal of Service recipients at HPU. They are pictured during the halftime show of HPU’s Homecoming football game.

Dr. Ray ’50 and Nancy ’48 Ellis were named the 2014 Grand Marshals during HPU’s Homecoming 2014 festivities. They are pictured riding in the Homecoming Parade.

Meia Daniels ’08 was named to the HPU Sports Hall of Fame. She is pictured riding in the Homecoming Parade.

Chris Kielsmeier was named to the HPU Sports Hall of Fame. He is pictured with his award during the Alumni and Sports Hall of Fame Banquet.

Dr. Don Newbury ’61 was named to the HPU Sports Hall of Fame. He is pictured riding in the Homecoming Parade with his wife, Brenda Newbury, and grandchildren.

HPU to host 31st annual Community Thanksgiving Feast

BROWNWOOD – November 6, 2014 – The 31st annual Community Thanksgiving Feast at Howard Payne University will once again usher in the holiday season for area residents. It is scheduled for Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 27, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the HPU Mabee University Center.

The tradition has been supported throughout the years by numerous individuals and organizations. Last year, more than 2,000 meals were served on campus and through the home-delivery program.

“When we opened our newly renovated Mabee University Center for Homecoming a few days ago, I also knew we would soon be celebrating Thanksgiving there with friends in the area,” said Bill Fishback, assistant vice president for business and human resources at HPU. “This community-wide effort of neighbors caring for neighbors seems to be as important to those who serve as it is to those who enjoy the meal each year. Volunteers will help serve meals at the Mabee Center or deliver meals in Brownwood and Early to those who cannot join us on campus. We have always been able to provide the meals at no cost because of the donations from the caring people and organizations in Brown County. Despite starting with less money than normal to cover the cost of the meals, this community always comes through, so I am confident the money will be there by the time the bills must be paid.”

Anyone unable to join friends and neighbors at the Mabee Center can have meals delivered to his or her home by calling the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce at (325) 646-9535 by noon on Friday, November 21.

According to Fishback, the staff members of HPU’s Sodexo Food Service give up their holiday to prepare the meals.

“Many of the volunteers have helped for years, making serving others part of their annual Thanksgiving tradition,” said Fishback.

The traditional Thanksgiving meal will consist of turkey, dressing and all the trimmings.

“Last year, we served 711 meals at the Mabee Center and 1,308 meals were provided to those unable to join us for lunch,” Fishback said. “The volunteers enjoy visiting with each other and our guests as they work to serve the meals as quickly as possible. Too often, we take for granted the fact that we are very blessed to live in a community where so many people willingly give their time and money to support this wonderful event. We look forward to being part of another joy-filled Thanksgiving Day as we also give thanks to the Lord for blessing us in so many ways.”

Fishback said volunteers do not need to call to let the university know they are coming.

“They simply need to show up at the Mabee Center at 10:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day and we will put them to work,” he said.

If you would like to help support the Thanksgiving meal, please make checks payable to the “Community Thanksgiving Feast,” and send them to Bill Fishback at Howard Payne University, 1000 Fisk Street, Suite 210, Brownwood, TX, 76801.

HPU’s Mabee University Center is located at 1219 Fisk Street in Brownwood, directly behind the Office of Admission.

HPU’s Dr. Lester Towell to be featured on Tumbleweed Smith’s “The Sound of Texas”

smith and towell for webBROWNWOOD – November 6, 2014 – Dr. Lester Towell, associate professor and chair of the Department of Computer Information Systems at Howard Payne University, will be featured on Tumbleweed Smith’s “The Sound of Texas” radio program tomorrow between 5:15 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.

Smith and Dr. Towell will discuss HPU’s 3D printer and the future of this technological advance.

Tumbleweed Smith is well known in Texas for his popular syndicated radio series and newspaper column. His show airs daily on Brownwood’s KXYL radio station, 102.3 FM.

Smith visited with Dr. Towell in July to learn more about HPU’s printer, which Dr. Towell uses as a teaching aid in his 3D Engineering Printing course. 3D printers create three-dimensional objects by printing successive layers of a variety of materials including plastic, metal, ceramic and glass. Scientists are currently studying the effects this technology will have on society.

More information about HPU’s printer is available at A full schedule for Tumbleweed Smith’s program may be found online at


Photo cutline: Radio personality Tumbleweed Smith interviewed HPU’s Dr. Lester Towell about the university’s 3D printer in July. The show will air between 5:15 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. tomorrow on Brownwood’s KXYL radio station, 102.3 FM.

HPU students and faculty attend criminal justice seminar at South Padre Island

By Christy Ash, HPU freshman

CRJ faculty and students at South Padre Island for webBROWNWOOD – November 4, 2014 – Two Howard Payne University students recently attended the annual meeting of the Southwestern Association of Criminal Justice at South Padre Island. Stephanie Upfold, a junior from Brownwood, and Blake Wynn, a sophomore from Rockwall, are both criminal justice majors with an emphasis in forensic science.

The students attended the conference with Lynn Humeniuk, associate professor of criminal justice and sociology and director of HPU’s criminal justice program; and Dr. Paul Lilly, assistant professor of criminal justice and chief/director of the university’s Department of Public Safety.

Humeniuk participated in the roundtable discussion titled “Restorative Justice: Victims, Offenders and Communities,” while Dr. Lilly participated in the “Community Policing” and “Campus Victimization” roundtables.

Several universities from the southwestern United States were in attendance, as well as many criminal justice practitioners, EMTs and firefighters from surrounding states. The seminar’s keynote speaker was Sheriff Lupe Valdez from the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office.

Humeniuk said HPU provided an incredible opportunity for the participants from the university to meet other professionals and students who are interested in serving others through the criminal justice field.

“This conference allowed us to network, exchange ideas, review up-to-date research presentations and be able to represent Howard Payne University at roundtable presentations,” she said. “It was a tremendous blessing to the four of us who attended.”


Photo cutline: HPU criminal justice students and faculty recently attended the annual meeting of the Southwest Association of Criminal Justice at South Padre Island. Pictured on the beach are, from left, Lynn Humeniuk, Dr. Paul Lilly, Stephanie Upfold and Blake Wynn.

HPU to host Raquel Contreras of Baptist World Alliance

BROWNWOOD – October 31, 2014 – Howard Payne University welcomes the community to campus next week as guest speaker Raquel Contreras tells stories and imparts knowledge from experiences gained as president of the women’s department of the Baptist World Alliance and as general director of Editorial Mundo Hispano in El Paso.

There are three opportunities to hear Contreras speak. On Tuesday, November 4, at 7 p.m., she will host a discussion titled “Women of the World” in the Jackson Room of HPU’s Faith and Life Leadership Center. The audience will hear stories of Baptist women from around the world and pray together for them.

Contreras will also be the featured speaker at HPU’s weekly Chapel service at 10 a.m. on Wednesday morning at the university’s Mims Auditorium. Later that morning, at 11:30 a.m., she will discuss her experiences in Chile and across Latin America. The final discussion will also be held in the Jackson Room.

“We’re so excited to host Raquel Contreras on campus as she shares stories that can only be gained from firsthand experience,” said Dr. Melody Maxwell, assistant professor of Christian studies. “This is a great opportunity for our students and for the community as well. We hope many people make plans to attend.”

HPU Jazz Ensemble to present fall concert

HPU Jazz Ensemble bw for webBROWNWOOD – October 29, 2014 – The Howard Payne University Jazz Ensemble will present its fall concert this Thursday evening, October 30, in HPU’s Mims Auditorium. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. and is free to the public.

The Jazz Ensemble will present pre-Halloween “tricks and treats” with music spoofing the celebration, such as “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes” and songs from the English alternative rock band Radiohead titled “Bodysnatchers” and “Idioteque.” Another treat will be provided by Ethan Yeats, senior music major, who will play “Ciribiribin,” a song made famous by trumpeter Harry James.

Other selections include the music of rock band Tower of Power, balanced by Glenn Miller’s 1942 Swing-era favorite, “The Anvil Chorus.”

The Howard Payne University Jazz Ensemble is directed by Stephen Goacher, professor of music. The Jazz Ensemble has performed in the Temple Jazz Festival, where it was named Outstanding Jazz Ensemble in the College Division in 2006, 2007, 2012, 2013 and 2014. The Jazz Ensemble also performed at the North Texas Jazz Festival in 2009.

For more information, contact HPU’s School of Music and Fine Arts at (325) 649-8500.


Photo cutline: HPU’s Jazz Ensemble will perform its fall concert this Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in HPU’s Mims Auditorium.

HPU accepting entries for national art exhibition

I-10 Art Exhibit for webBy Jaclyn Bonner, HPU sophomore

BROWNWOOD – October 28, 2014 – Howard Payne University’s Department of Art will host the first annual “Above and Below I-10: Cross-Country Art” exhibition at the Dorothy and Wendell Mayes Art Gallery in the university’s Doakie Day Art Center in February and March of 2015. All contemporary American artists who reside above or below I-10 are encouraged to submit an entry or multiple entries of up to three per artist. I-10 is the southernmost transcontinental highway connecting both the West and East coasts from San Diego, California, to Jacksonville, Florida.

HPU will receive entries until January 15, 2015 and the exhibit will be open to the public from February 9 to March 27, 2015.

Artwork should reflect the American themes of landscape, traveling and transportation. However, all two-dimensional artwork themes will be considered by the juror. Only two-dimensional, abstract realism artwork will be accepted.

The juror is Christopher Schade of Austin, Texas. He acquired his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting from The University of Texas at Austin and went on to earn his Master of Fine Arts degree in painting from the Yale University School of Art. Schade currently lives in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, New York, and is a professor at Montclair State University in New Jersey, where he teaches painting, drawing and color theory. His artwork has been featured in solo exhibits in Austin and Dallas, as well as in group exhibits and shows in Houston, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Mexico, Germany, South Korea and New Zealand. Additionally, Schade curates group shows and is the founder of the Artist Lecture Series in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Monetary prizes will be awarded to the artists of the top three art pieces as selected by the juror. HPU’s Department of Art will keep submitted images of the accepted art pieces as part of its permanent collection.

For additional information regarding the entry guidelines and procedures, or for questions and appointments, artists are directed to contact David Harmon, chair of the Department of Art, at 325-649-8088. More details can be viewed online at Those interested may download and print the application accordingly.


Photo cutline: HPU is accepting entries for its first annual “Above and Below I-10: Cross-Country Art” exhibition.

Bonner and Wood crowned HPU Homecoming Queen and Princess

2014 Homecoming Queen and Princess for webBROWNWOOD – October 24, 2014 – Katie Rose Bonner of Lytle and Caitlin Wood of Miles were crowned Howard Payne University’s Homecoming Queen and Princess during a ceremony held today on campus.

Katie Rose, the daughter of James and Rosemary Bonner of Lytle, is a senior Guy D. Newman Honors Academy student who majors in political science and history. She serves as student body president and is a member of Sigma Theta Phi, Gamma Beta Phi, Pi Gamma Mu and the HPU Moot Court team. After completing her undergraduate degree, she plans to attend law school and is considering a career in immigration or international law.

Caitlin, the daughter of Ron and Sandy Wood of Miles, is a junior Guy D. Newman Honors Academy student who majors in political science and minors in Christian education. She is a member of Gamma Beta Phi, Pi Gamma Mu and the Jacket Ambassadors. Additionally, she is involved with Student Government Association, Moot Court and the Baptist Student Ministry. After finishing her undergraduate degree, she plans to attend law school and eventually work as a litigator or in-house counsel for a faith-based organization.

The pair will be featured in Saturday’s Homecoming Parade at 9:15 a.m. and during the halftime show of the HPU football game at 2 p.m.


Photo cutline: Caitlin Wood (left) and Katie Rose Bonner (right) were crowned HPU’s 2014 Homecoming Princess and Queen, respectively. They are pictured with Robin Scofield ’14, HPU’s 2013 Homecoming Queen.

Walker Memorial Library showcases HPU memorabilia

By Jaclyn Bonner, HPU sophomore

library display for webBROWNWOOD – October 24, 2014 – In honor of Homecoming 2014 and the 125th anniversary of Howard Payne University, the Walker Memorial Library has collected and is displaying historical HPU artifacts in the Browsing Room on the first floor.

The tribute includes various keepsakes from the HPU archives to foster nostalgia for alumni while offering students a tangible representation of the university’s history.

Memorabilia includes trophies, football gear, cheerleader and band uniforms and photos. Copies of every circulating yearbook are also available for viewing and some are available for purchase at $1.00 each.

The display will be open to the public during Homecoming, October 24-26. Hours are Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon and Sunday from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.


Photo cutline: HPU’s Walker Memorial Library will display historical artifacts during Homecoming 2014.

HPU to host ribbon-cutting for newly remodeled Mabee University Center

Fambroughs for webBROWNWOOD – October 22, 2014 – A ribbon-cutting ceremony for Howard Payne University’s newly remodeled Mabee University Center will be held this Friday, October 24, at 5 p.m. as part of the university’s Homecoming 2014 celebrations.

The extensive remodeling project included a renovated dining hall, study lounge, social spaces, large eatery and coffee bar, enhanced technology, new office suite for the vice president for student life and her staff, expanded campus store, additional conference rooms and improved Bullion Suites to host events for the university and the community.

Waldrop Construction handled the project.

“The remodel went beautifully,” says Dr. Bill Ellis, university president. “We’re very pleased with Waldrop Construction’s work and we look forward to opening the Mabee University Center to the alumni and the community during Homecoming.”

SmithGroupJJR of Dallas, one of the nation’s largest architecture and engineering firms, was in charge of the redesign. Bill Fishback, HPU’s assistant vice president for business and human resources, worked closely with the firm.

“During the construction phase of the Mabee Center renovation project, SmithGroupJJR representatives Nick Back, Kenda Draper and Eden Vaughn were invaluable as we worked with Waldrop Construction and subcontractors to ensure the end result would be a great facility for students,” said Fishback. “Nick Back, associate construction manager, is the consummate professional and was our ‘go to’ person at SmithGroupJJR, assisting us daily throughout project.”

The renovated dining hall opened at the beginning of the fall semester and Fambrough’s Eatery & Coffee Bar, as well as the student life offices, have opened in the past few weeks. Students have expressed their pleasure with the updated spaces.

“The new Fambrough’s looks really nice,” says Allan Chehadi, a sophomore from Austin. “I’m also excited for the new study lounge. It will make it a lot easier for 24-hour studying.”

According to Dr. Ellis, the needs and desires of students were the driving forces behind the project.

“Our main reason for the renovation was to provide a comfortable gathering place for our students and state-of-the-art dining facilities,” says Dr. Ellis. “I believe we have achieved just that. It is a joy to see the students exploring and enjoying the remodeled facility.”

With all of the new features, Dr. Ellis says the upgraded Mabee University Center will benefit the rest of campus and the community as well.

“We’re so proud of this facility and we hope the community makes plans to join us for the ribbon-cutting ceremony,” he said.

A complete schedule of Homecoming events and other information is available online at


Photo cutline: Among the extensive renovations to HPU’s Mabee University Center were updates and improvements to Fambrough’s Eatery & Coffee Bar.