News Archives

HPU Health Fair aims to enhance wellbeing of students, personnel

Students at intellectual health booth for webBROWNWOOD – March 17, 2015 – Howard Payne University celebrated the upcoming spring season recently with a “Spring into Health Fair” for faculty, staff and students. The second annual fair featured health screenings, demonstrations, exhibits, games and a variety of giveaways.

“The purpose of the Health Fair is to assist our campus community in taking a proactive and holistic approach to health,” said Dr. Graham Hatcher, professor and chair of the Department of Exercise and Sport Science.

Campus personnel and vendors from the community set up booths that addressed health from seven perspectives: physical, spiritual, occupational, intellectual, emotional, environmental and social.

At the “social” booth, for example, students and faculty from HPU’s Department of Communication led attendees in impromptu speaking challenges designed to enhance communication skills.

“Many face-to-face conversations have been replaced with texting and social media,” said Dr. Julie Welker, chair of the Department of Communication and professor of communication. “We wanted to help students regain confidence with interpersonal communication and conversational skills.”

Leslie King and student for webDr. Hatcher said that people often overlook many of the components that comprise one’s overall health and wellbeing.

“Humans are very complex beings,” he said. “It’s necessary to take a well-rounded approach as we care for ourselves.”

Vendors included the Brown County Extension Agency, Brown County Health Department, Brownwood Regional Medical Center, Chick-fil-A, Cook Children’s Hospital, Family Services Center, GNC, Public Health Preparedness, Sodexo, United Health Services and the WIC Program.


Photo cutlines: Students gather around a booth at HPU’s second annual “Spring into Health Fair.”

HPU’s rock climbing instructor Leslie King, left, assists Dominic Packer, a freshman from Austin, with a hanging challenge.

HPU community enjoying newly renovated Mabee University Center

By Emily Peisker, HPU junior

Students in Mabee foyer for webBROWNWOOD – March 17, 2015 – Since its reopening at the beginning of the fall semester, the Howard Payne University community and campus guests have enjoyed the recently renovated Mabee University Center, including the updated Fambrough’s Eatery and Coffee Bar and expanded Spirit Store.

“The new center is much more open, but it still has that feeling of coziness,” said Brittany Cavness, a senior from Lampasas. “I also really like that Fambrough’s has new healthy options.”

In addition to upgrades to the eatery and campus store, the extensive redesign included a renovated dining hall, study lounge, social spaces, enhanced technology, new office suite for the vice president for student life and her staff, additional conference rooms and improved Bullion Suites to host events for the university and the community. Recent campus photographs and archival photographs were used in spirited wall graphics throughout the center.

“I think the new Mabee Center is beautiful,” said Kaleigh Tankersley, a senior from Iraan. “The renovations made the building more student-friendly. I love the professional aspect of the upper floor and the school spirit displayed on the lower floor.”

Andrew Overmiller, a sophomore from Natalia, also expressed his appreciation of the new center and its social spaces.

“I love the renovations that were made to the Mabee Center,” he said. “It has become a great environment in which to hang out with friends and study.”

Local contractor Waldrop Construction worked with SmithGroupJJR of Dallas, one of the nation’s largest architecture and engineering firms, to complete the remodeling project. Bill Fishback, HPU’s assistant vice president for business and human resources, was the university administrator responsible for the construction phase of the project.

“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 the project.”

HPU has received positive feedback on the renovations from campus guests, as well.

Beadel Dining Hall for web“We’ve hosted several community events since the remodel and many are scheduled for the future,” said Debbie Childs, director of university events. “The Mabee Center renovations have received great reviews and people from our community are delighted and amazed with the improvements.”


Photo cutlines:

Students gather in HPU’s Mabee University Center foyer.

Students enjoy the new social spaces in HPU’s Mabee University Center, including the completely renovated Beadel Dining Hall.

Chili’s to support HPU’s Spring Sing 2015

BROWNWOOD – March 16, 2015 – A portion of Chili’s proceeds tomorrow, March 17, will benefit Howard Payne University’s Spring Sing 2015. With each flyer presented, the Brownwood restaurant will donate 10 percent of the event day sales in support of HPU’s annual musical event.

The flyer may be downloaded at The event will take place Tuesday from 10:45 a.m. to 10:45 p.m. at Chili’s Brownwood location, 210 E. Commerce Street.

Spring Sing is slated for Friday, March 20, at 7:30 p.m. in HPU’s Mims Auditorium with a repeat performance the same time on Saturday. This year’s theme is “Night at the Cinema” during which student organizations will recreate some of their favorite movie moments. Participants include members of Alpha Psi Omega, Chi Alpha Omega, Delta Chi Rho, Kappa Kappa Psi, Sigma Theta Phi, Tau Beta Sigma and Zeta Chi.

“These groups have been practicing hard for many weeks to put on a great show for the community,” said Francie Clark, director of student activities. “We’d like to encourage everyone to support our students by eating at Chili’s tomorrow evening and coming out to see the shows this weekend.”

Tickets for reserved Spring Sing seats may be purchased at HPU’s Cashier’s Office inside the Packer Administration Building for $10 and general admission tickets will be $5 at the door on the evening of the event.

For more information, contact HPU’s Office of Student Life at (325) 649-8017.

Several HPU students to spend Spring Break serving others

Beach Reach group 2015 for webBy Rachel Ellington, HPU senior

BROWNWOOD – March 6, 2015 – At Howard Payne University, the Great Commission – Jesus’ command to his followers in Matthew 28 to “go and make disciples of all nations” – is a closely held belief. As a result, several departments and organizations, including HPU’s Baptist Student Ministry, send students to a variety of locations each year to spread the love and Gospel of Christ. This tradition will be continued during HPU’s Spring Break, March 9-13, as the BSM takes 19 students to minister to vacationers at South Padre Island.

The students will work alongside ministry teams from churches and other universities in a collective project known as Beach Reach. The purpose of the ministry is not just to evangelize to the beachgoers but to adopt the servant-like attitude modeled by Jesus Christ.

Beach Reach volunteers from across the nation will serve those vacationing at South Padre Island by giving free, safe van rides throughout the island, preparing and serving pancake breakfasts on the beach and lending a helping hand to those in need.

This year marks Beach Reach’s 35th anniversary.

“This is a great opportunity for college students to witness to their peers and share the Gospel,” said Kim Garner, HPU’s Beach Reach coordinator. Garner is a 2014 HPU graduate serving as the BSM intern. “The BSM requests prayers for both the volunteers and the beachgoers.”


Photo cutline: Nineteen HPU students left for South Padre Island Friday afternoon to minister to beachgoers during Spring Break. They are led by Kim Garner (front row, third from left), BSM intern and Beach Reach coordinator.

HPU’s Daniels, champion team to be honored during Saturday’s basketball games

Nat Champ Team Photo for webBROWNWOOD – February 19, 2015 – Several Howard Payne University basketball standouts have been inducted into the American Southwest Conference Hall of Honor and will be honored in between the women’s and men’s basketball games this Saturday, February 21, at the Brownwood Coliseum.

Meia Daniels, 2008 HPU graduate and current head women’s basketball coach for the university, and the members of the 2007-08 HPU women’s basketball team were inducted into the ASC Hall of Honor in December. According to the ASC, the team holds distinction as the first to win an NCAA Division III team title for the conference.

Team members include Daniels, Stacy Blalock, Stephanie Brewer, Makiesha Davis, Mionca Hall, Elaine Hobbs, Hope Hohertz, Kimberly Hoffman, Sarah Pfiester, Daphnie Pippins, Katy Sarem, Tiffany Warner, Chris Kielsmeier (then head coach), Lindy Hatfield (then assistant coach) and Traci Ortiz (then student manager).

“These young women and their coaches brought national attention to HPU and the Brownwood community during their record-setting season,” said Mike Jones, HPU athletic director. “We hope the community joins us Saturday as we honor their achievements.”

Tickets to the game are $3 for adults, $2 for senior citizens and $1 for children ages 12 to 18. Children under 12 receive free admission.

Meia Daniels
A four-time all-conference honoree and three-time West Division Player of the Year, Meia Daniels capped her Howard Payne women’s basketball career with a NCAA Division III national championship, selection as the WBCA Division III Player of the Year (2008) and as a finalist for the Women’s Collegiate Sports 2008 Athlete of the Year award. Daniels is one of two women to twice earn American Southwest Conference Female Athlete of the Year honors, claiming the league’s highest student-athlete honor for both the 2006-07 and 2007-08 academic years.

A point guard, Daniels is one of two women’s basketball student-athletes to have been named to the All-ASC team in each of her four seasons (2005, ’06, ’07, ’08). She also earned All-West Division First-Team honors all four seasons and was three times voted ASC West Division Player of the Year (2006, ’07, ’08). Daniels was the 2005 ASC West Division Freshman of the Year. Howard Payne made four straight ASC Women’s Basketball Championship Tournament appearances during Daniels’ collegiate career, winning the conference title three times (2005, ’07, ’08) with Daniels selected the tournament most valuable player in her junior and senior years (2007, ’08).

Daniels was named Most Valuable Player of the 2008 NCAA Division III Women’s Final Four and selected to the All-Tournament team. The WBCA named Daniels as an all-American in 2008 and honorable mention all-American in 2007. Her list of collegiate honors included WBCA and all-South Region awards, including South Region Player of the Year citations as a junior and senior (2007, ’08).

As a player, Daniels was part of an HPU program that posted a 109-12 record and made four trips to the NCAA Division III playoffs. Both Howard Payne and American Southwest Conference records bear Daniels’ name. She still holds seven Howard Payne career, season and game records and currently holds two ASC career marks – games played (121) and field goals attempted (1,694) – and five conference season records – points (649), field goals made (215) and field goals attempted (479). Daniels lists second all-time in career scoring in the ASC and at Howard Payne (2,118).

Daniels holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and criminal justice from HPU (2008) and a master’s degree in organizational management from Wayne State College Nebraska (2010). Following graduation from HPU, Daniels spent two seasons as a women’s basketball graduate assistant coach at NCAA Division II Wayne State College (Neb.). She helped guide WSC to a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference championship in 2010.

Daniels is a member of the Howard Payne University Athletics Hall of Fame, both as a student-athlete and as a member of the 2007-08 HPU women’s basketball national champion team. Daniels is presently assistant director of athletics/senior woman administrator and women’s basketball head coach at Howard Payne.

The 2007-08 Women’s Basketball Team
The American Southwest Conference claimed its first NCAA Division III national team championship when the 2007-08 Howard Payne University women’s basketball team capped a perfect 33-0 season with a 68-54 win over Messiah College for the 2008 national title. It was just the fifth time a team had gone undefeated in claiming the Division III women’s basketball championship. The HPU women’s basketball team was the only collegiate basketball team, men’s or women’s at any level, to finish the 2007-08 season with an undefeated record.

In addition to winning the first national team title in the ASC, the 2007-08 team also recorded the first national team title for Howard Payne since the institution joined the NCAA in 1996. The 2007-08 women’s basketball national championship team was inducted to the Howard Payne University Athletics Hall of Fame in 2009.

Howard Payne’s championship season included an American Southwest Conference title and West Division championship. The Lady Jackets led Division III women’s basketball in home attendance average and extended their Brownwood Coliseum home win streak to 36 games. The HPU win streak vs. ASC opponents stretched to 34 games. Only four of the season’s 33 games were decided by 10 or fewer points, and HPU led NCAA Division III women basketball in scoring margin (27.8 pts. per game).

The 2007-08 Lady Jackets established three ASC season records that still stand: points (2,485), free throws made (671) and free throws attempted (885). During the season, Howard Payne earned the first No. 1 national ranking for women’s basketball in school history.

In addition to team accolades, the 2007-08 Howard Payne team produced numerous national, region and conference individual award winners, including WBCA Division III National Player of the Year and All-American, Meia Daniels; WBCA and National Coach of the Year, Chris Kielsmeier; WBCA Honorable Mention All-American, Stacey Blalock; and three all-region picks, Daniels, Blalock and Kim Hoffman. The conference postseason awards list included HPU players on the all-ASC team, all-West Division first, second and defensive teams; West Division freshman team; and ASC All-Academic team. ASC West Division awards were presented to Daniels (Player of the Year), Blalock (Defensive Player of the Year) and Kielsmeier (Coach of the Year).


Photo cutline: Meia Daniels and the members of the 2007-08 HPU women’s basketball team were inducted into the ASC Hall of Honor and will be honored during HPU’s basketball games this Saturday.

HPU’s Currie-Strickland lectures warn of “segregated Christianity”

Dr Willie James Jennings for webBROWNWOOD – February 19, 2015 – “Our witness as Christians is not to change others, but to change ourselves and, in so doing, invite others to do the same,” said the Reverend Dr. Willie James Jennings, guest speaker at Howard Payne University’s eighth annual Currie-Strickland Distinguished Lectures in Christian Ethics held recently on campus. “We became disciples by learning and we can make disciples by learning as well.”

Dr. Jennings, associate professor of theology and black church studies at Duke University Divinity School, spoke on “Being Christian in Racial America.”

When asked by a student why he chose to devote his studies to that topic, Dr. Jennings responded that he has always been intrigued by “segregated Christianity.”

“We sing the same hymns, say the same prayers and read the same Bible,” said Dr. Jennings, referring to Christians of various races. “Yet, in some instances, we feel as though we can’t be in the same room together.”

Dr. Donnie Auvenshine, dean of HPU’s School of Christian Studies and professor of Christian studies, said Dr. Jennings’ lectures were a great reminder to Christians of all races and backgrounds.

“Dr. Jennings’ lectures were quite thought-provoking,” he said. “Many of us will continue to reflect on his association of imperialistic ideals and agendas and ownership and control of land with racial prejudices. In relating to people of various races, we who profess a relationship with Christ need to act like our Lord acted.”

currie strickland scholars 2015 for webDuring the lectures, four HPU seniors were recognized as Currie-Strickland Scholars in Christian Ethics and Theology. Receiving the award were Samuel Marich-Edwan of Arlington, Jessi Jordan of Spurger, Paul Warren of Salado and Kelsan Wolverton of Lampasas.

“These students have excelled in their work in Christian studies and we’re proud to honor them for their achievements,” said Dr. Derek Hatch, assistant professor of Christian studies.

The Currie-Strickland lecture series is made possible through the generosity of Dr. and Mrs. Gary Elliston and was established to honor the life of Dr. David R. Currie, retired executive director of Texas Baptists Committed, and the memory of Phil Strickland, who dedicated nearly 40 years of ministry to the Baptist General Convention of Texas’ Christian Life Commission.


Photo cutlines: The Reverend Dr. Willie James Jennings discusses “Being Christian in Racial America” during HPU’s eighth annual Currie-Strickland Distinguished Lectures in Christian Ethics.

Four HPU students were recognized as Currie-Strickland Scholars in Christian Ethics and Theology. Left to right: Kelsan Wolverton, Samuel Marich-Edwan, Jessi Jordan, Paul Warren and Dr. Donnie Auvenshine, dean of HPU’s School of Christian Studies and professor of Christian studies.

HPU faculty and staff members support heart health awareness

Heart Month at HPU for webBROWNWOOD – February 19, 2015 – Several Howard Payne University faculty and staff members are wearing special t-shirts each Friday in February in support of the American Heart Association’s “Go Red for Women” campaign for heart health awareness.

Back row, from left: Gretchen Campbell, executive administrative assistant to vice president for student life and dean of students; and Susan Sharp, administrative assistant for the School of Education and certification officer.

Center row, from left: Kim Rosato, instructor of exercise and sport science; Ann Johnson, custodial services supervisor; and Cheryl Mangrum, associate director of admission.

Front row, from left: Diane Hackney, facilities department coordinator; and Kim Bryant, associate professor of communication.

Photo by Christy Ash, HPU junior.

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.