News Archives

HPU librarian Alexia Riggs named to prestigious TALL Texans Leadership Institute

Riggs and Library Staff for web updatedBROWNWOOD – March 9, 2017 – Alexia Riggs, dean of libraries and associate professor of library science at Howard Payne University, was recently selected for the highly competitive Texas Accelerated Library Leaders Institute. More popularly known as the TALL Texans Leadership Institute, the program has recognized the best of the rising Texas library leaders for more than 20 years.

The program takes place at the Montserrat Retreat Center in Lake Dallas and includes instruction by Jack Siggins, recently retired library director at George Washington University, and Harvard University’s Maureen Sullivan, past president of the American Library Association. Additional veteran leaders from Texas libraries serve as mentors.

Ted Wanner, continuing education specialist for the Texas Library Association, wrote to Dr. W. Mark Tew, HPU provost and chief academic officer, to inform him of Riggs’ achievement.

“Librarians return to their institutions with deeper understanding of management, communication, and strategic planning,” Wanner wrote. “Graduates of the program have become directors of major library systems, administrators within school districts and universities, Executive Board members for the Texas Library Association, and leaders in critical initiatives within their own communities.”

Dr. Tew and other HPU administrators notified Riggs of her accomplishment Thursday morning at HPU’s Walker Memorial Library.

“I was honored to recommend Dean Riggs for this prestigious position,” said Dr. Tew. “In the recommendation, I was able to share several of the initiatives she has already accomplished at HPU’s library.”

Since joining HPU’s faculty in 2014, Riggs has bolstered the library’s efforts in supporting the teaching and learning goals of HPU’s faculty and students.

Riggs received a Bachelor of Science degree from HPU in 2002, a Master of Divinity degree from Hardin-Simmons University in 2007 and a Master of Library Science degree from the University of North Texas in 2009. She has completed all but her dissertation toward a doctoral degree from Texas A&M University in Commerce. Her past experience includes serving as reference librarian at Del Mar College, 2012-2014; technical services librarian at Paris Junior College, 2009-2012; government document librarian intern at Texas Christian University, 2009; and as a music library assistant at Hardin-Simmons University, 2004-2005.


Cutline: Alexia Riggs, dean of libraries and associate professor of library science at HPU, was recently selected for the highly competitive Texas Accelerated Library Leaders Institute. She is pictured with members of the library staff. Left to right: Sarah Griffin, Amy Ripple, Juanita Sypert, Alexia Riggs, Doris Goacher, Mary Dunham, Wade Kinnin and Mary Griffin.

HPU Alumni Association’s El Paso Chapter announces officers, holds inaugural meeting

HPU EP Alumni AssociationBROWNWOOD – March 8, 2017 – The El Paso Chapter of the Howard Payne University Alumni Association held its inaugural chapter meeting recently with four alumni from the center serving as officers.

The chapter’s president is Blanca Gamez, who earned a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences degree in business management in 2009 and a Master of Business Administration degree in 2016. Additional officers include Iban Torres, vice president, who earned a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences degree in business administration and Christian studies in 2012; Priscilla Macias, secretary, who earned a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences degree in criminal justice in 2006; and Roxanne Jurado, treasurer, who earned a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences degree in business management in 2009. Torres, Macias and Jurado are each slated to receive a Master of Business Administration degree from the university in 2017.

“The El Paso Chapter of the HPU Alumni Association promises to be a very active and proud chapter of HPU alumni, family and friends,” said Dr. Adrian Gil, director of the El Paso Center and associate professor of business. “The chapter members shared with me that they are happy to serve God and honor their peers using the principles of servant leadership representative of Howard Payne University. They look forward to working with fellow HPU alumni and friends to build upon the godly foundation instilled in them.”

To learn more about HPU’s El Paso Center or to get involved with the El Paso Chapter of HPU’s Alumni Association, call 915-533-8500 or e-mail


Cutline: Members of the HPU Alumni Association’s newly created El Paso Chapter are (back row) Blanca Gamez and Priscilla Macias and (front row) Roxanne Jurado and Iban Torres.

HPU Jazz Ensemble to present spring concert this Thursday

jazz ensemble for webBROWNWOOD – March 7, 2017 – Howard Payne University’s Jazz Ensemble will present its spring concert Thursday, March 9, at 7:30 p.m. in the university’s Mims Auditorium. The concert is open to the public and free of charge.

A featured selection will be Artie Shaw’s arrangement of “Indian Love Song” with sophomore Katelyn Zimmer and senior Alex Atkinson. Zimmer, on clarinet, is a music education major from Shepherd, and Atkinson, vocalist, is a music education major from Haslet. Other selections include “Jitterbug Waltz” by Fats Waller, “Ah-That’s Freedom” by the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Big Band, “J&B” by Oliver Nelson and “Tickletoe” by Lester Young.

The HPU Jazz Ensemble has illustrious accomplishments including Outstanding Collegiate Band awards for seven years at the Temple Jazz Festival and performances at the North Texas Jazz Festival.

“We are pleased to present our students to the community in a celebration of the great American music, jazz,” said Stephen Goacher, professor of music and director of the ensemble.

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


Cutline: HPU’s Jazz Ensemble will present a spring concert on Thursday, March 9. Pictured are two of the concert’s soloists, junior Alex Atkinson (left) and sophomore Katelyn Zimmer (center), and the ensemble’s director, Stephen Goacher, professor of music (far right).

HPU Student Speaker Bureau wins TIFA debate championship

SSB TIFA Spring 2017BROWNWOOD – March 3, 2017 – Howard Payne University’s Student Speaker Bureau speech and debate team recently won the debate championship at the Texas Intercollegiate Forensics Association spring championship tournament, held at Blinn College in Bryan. Braxton Clark, senior social science global studies major from Southlake, and Isaac Sommers, senior social science jurisprudence and Guy D. Newman Honors Academy major from Boerne, were the top parliamentary debate team at the tournament.

The HPU SSB team won second place overall in debate sweepstakes and second place overall sweepstakes, competing against 24 schools from Texas and Louisiana.

Clark was also named third place top speaker; Christopher Freeland, sophomore biochemistry and Guy D. Newman Honors Academy major from Bangs, was fourth place top speaker; and Sommers was seventh place top speaker.

The debate team of Freeland and Tyler Olin, social science jurisprudence and Guy D. Newman Honors Academy major from Howe, were also quarterfinalists in parliamentary debate.

“These debaters have been working extremely hard in preparation for this tournament,” said Dr. Julie Welker, head of HPU’s Department of Communication and SSB coach. “TIFA is especially difficult, as we are the only private university competing in debate against much larger state schools. I’m always impressed with our outstanding students when they win so many awards against some of the best teams in the state.”

HPU beat teams from the University of North Texas, Texas A&M University, Texas State University and others to clench the championship.

The team also began competing in International Public Debate Association style debate last year. IPDA is a one-on-one debate style that provides an opportunity for individuals to develop advocacy skills in a forum that promotes appropriate and effective communication.

Both Clark and Sommers advance to IPDA quarterfinals, and Clark was named sixth place IPDA speaker.

Also competing at the tournament in debate were Morgan Ashmore, senior communication major from Weatherford; Reagan Grisham, junior communication major from Arlington; Gabrielle McWhirter, senior theatre major from Crosbyton; Madison Neal, freshman communication major from Chandler; Isabelle Stahrfisher, freshman communication major from Fort Worth; and Haylee Williams, sophomore communication major from Bellville. Competing in individual speaking events were Grisham, McWhirter and Neal, as well as Brooklyn Britton, freshman theatre major from Brownwood; Erin Haley, sophomore communication major from Mason; and Aimee Orozco, junior communication major from Shepherd.

Sidni Kirby, instructor of communication, is the assistant coach of the team.


Cutline: HPU’s Student Speaker Bureau recently won the debate championship at the Texas Intercollegiate Forensics Association spring championship tournament. Left to right: Sidni Kirby, Braxton Clark, Reagan Grisham, Isabelle Stahrfisher, Gabrielle McWhirter, Morgan Ashmore, Isaac Sommers, Madison Neal, Christopher Freeland, Haylee Williams, Tyler Olin, Brooklyn Britton, Erin Haley, Aimee Orozco and Dr. Julie Welker.

HPU hosting juried student art exhibition through March 20

student juried art exhibitionBROWNWOOD – March 3, 2017 – Howard Payne University’s Department of Art is hosting “Best of 2016-2017: A Juried Student Exhibition” through March 20 in the Dorothy and Wendell Mayes Art Gallery inside HPU’s Doakie Day Art Center. The exhibition features more than 50 works of art by 18 students.

Curating the exhibition were HPU art faculty members Julie Mize, adjunct instructor of photography; Susan Harmon, adjunct instructor of art; and David Harmon, professor of art and chair of the Department of Art. Featured artworks include mixed media, felt weavings, collages, ink on paper, screen prints, charcoals, ceramics and more.

Students who won awards for their art are Travis Adams, junior from Brownwood; Christy Ash, senior from Brownwood; Colby Compton, senior from Early; Lydia Conrad, junior from Brownwood; Kaeli Goodgion, junior from Comanche; Ally Henry, freshman from Canyon Lake; Cecily McIlwain, sophomore from Dayton; Drew McNeill, senior from Brownwood; and Corey Ross, freshman from Navasota.

Additional student artists featured in the show are Ryan Adams, junior from Brownwood; Keith Baker, freshman from Houston; Joy Hall, freshman from Fort Stockton; Caelob Hardman, sophomore from San Saba; Sheena Nalley, freshman from Rochelle; Amy Pitman, communications assistant/web editor and student from Zephyr; Tiffani San Miguel, senior from Burleson; Doris Walton, senior from Weesatche; and Trey Weidner, freshman from Cedar Park.

David Hill, assistant professor of art at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, served as juror for the exhibition. He called jurying an art exhibition a rewarding yet challenging task.

“How does one select any individual artwork over another, especially given the often subjective qualities and intensely personal act of making art?” he asked. “It can take courage for an artist to submit work to be judged in a competition, so I want to acknowledge that fact and congratulate all the students who have work included in the exhibit.”

In examining each artwork, Hill looked for evidence of technical skill and craftsmanship with the chosen media as well as an understanding of composition and the formal elements and principles of making art.

“Having narrowed down my selection, I then looked for artwork that resonated with me, whether it be with content, creativity or an exceptional use of materials,” he said. “I want to congratulate all the winners and encourage all of the students to continue to pursue their art.”

The gallery is open weekdays 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will be closed for the university’s Spring Break, March 13-17. The Doakie Day Art Center is located on the HPU campus, on Center Avenue, near Lipscomb Street in Brownwood. All inquiries may be directed to Harmon at 325-649-8088 or


Cutline: HPU’s Department of Art is hosting “Best of 2016-2017: A Juried Student Exhibition” through March 20.

HPU faculty and staff raise heart health awareness on campus

Go Red for Women 2017BROWNWOOD – March 2, 2017 – Several Howard Payne University faculty and staff members wore special t-shirts each Friday in February in support of the American Heart Association’s “Go Red for Women” campaign for heart health awareness.

Pictured left to right are Gretchen Campbell, executive assistant to the vice president for student life and dean of students; Diane Hackney, custodial supervisor; Dr. Kristen Hutchins, associate professor of biology; Kyra Owen, administrative assistant for business and human resources; Tammy Dake, custodian; Jarvis Green, graphic designer/web editor; Dora Hernandez, facilities department coordinator; Brenda Zaccardo, custodian; Tammy Lowrey, executive assistant to the president; and Amy Pitman, communications assistant/web editor.

HPU receives Tree Campus USA recognition

hpu trees and bannerBROWNWOOD – March 1, 2017 – Howard Payne University was recently honored with 2016 Tree Campus USA® recognition by the Arbor Day Foundation. Tree Campus USA is a national program created in 2008 by the Arbor Day Foundation to honor colleges and universities for their commitment to campus forest management and for engaging staff and students in conservation goals.

There are approximately 300 Tree Campus USA campuses across the United States. HPU is one of two universities in this region of Texas to hold this designation.

HPU achieved recognition by meeting Tree Campus USA’s five standards, which include maintaining a tree advisory committee, creating a campus tree-care plan, dedicating annual expenditures for its campus tree program, hosting an Arbor Day observance and facilitating a student service-learning project.

“Participating in Tree Campus USA sets a fine example for other colleges and universities, while helping to create a healthier planet for us all,” said Matt Harris, chief executive of the Arbor Day Foundation.

PrintHPU celebrated Texas Arbor Day in November 2016 with a tree-planting ceremony and educational program on planting and pruning trees. Terry Pritchett, HPU’s assistant vice president for facilities and planning, serves as chair of the university’s Campus Tree Advisory Committee.

“HPU is noted for its tree-lined campus,” he said. “We’re proud to be honored with Tree Campus USA recognition and thankful for the beautiful campus God has given us to manage.”

The Arbor Day Foundation has helped campuses throughout the country plant thousands of trees, and Tree Campus USA colleges and universities invested more than $46.7 million in campus forest management last year. More information about the program is available at

HPU athletic training students compete at SWATA workshop

SWATA team 2017 BROWNWOOD – February 27, 2017 – Seven Howard Payne University students majoring in athletic training participated in the ninth annual Southwest Athletic Trainers’ Association (SWATA) competency workshop and quiz bowl at the end of January. The event took place on the Texas State University campus in San Marcos.

HPU students who attended the conference were senior Ruth Davis from Cibolo, senior Corey Martinez from Bangs, senior Dezeray Tafte from Eastland, senior Elizabeth Fargo from Saginaw, senior William Rangel-Alfaro from San Antonio, junior Dustin Bachus from Edna and junior Ariana Rehm from Uhland.

This was the first time all HPU athletic training upperclassmen were able to participate in this event. HPU is one of 17 professional athletic training programs in SWATA, which includes graduate and undergraduate programs from Texas and Arkansas. The workshop is designed to increase the students’ professional and clinical skills as well as help them prepare for the certification exam.

The quiz bowl is a competition in the style of a game show made up of teams of three from accredited schools in SWATA. HPU’s team consisted of seniors Davis, Martinez and Tafte. They competed with teams from universities including The University of Texas, Texas State University, Texas A&M University, Hardin-Simmons University, Baylor University, The University of Texas at Arlington and Texas Lutheran University. The winning team from the quiz bowl gets the opportunity to compete in a similar competition at the National Athletic Trainers Association meeting this summer.

“I am really proud of our quiz bowl team,” said Mike Terrill, director of HPU’s Athletic Training Education Program. “They competed very well and represented the quality of education we provide at Howard Payne.”

For more information about the Athletic Training Education Program, contact HPU’s School of Education at 325-649-8203 or visit


Cutline: HPU students competed in the Southwest Athletic Trainers’ Association quiz bowl. Pictured from left are seniors Corey Martinez, Ruth Davis and Dezeray Tafte.

San Saba’s Leigh Ann Glaze named HPU registrar

Leigh Ann Glaze for webBROWNWOOD – February 27, 2017 – Howard Payne University recently named Leigh Ann Glaze, former public school administrator, as the university’s registrar. Glaze began her new role in January and follows the recently retired Lana Wagner.

Glaze spent 26 years in public education, most recently serving nine years as superintendent at San Saba Independent School District. In addition, she served as assistant superintendent and school counselor in San Saba and taught English at Jim Ned Consolidated Independent School District.

She spoke of her decision to start a new career in higher education so quickly following her retirement from public education.

“I know myself too well,” she said. “I would go stir crazy if I actually retired.”

As HPU registrar, Glaze handles academic records and has varied other responsibilities, many of which overlap with her public school administrator roles. Additionally, she oversees the operations and staff of the Office of the Registrar, including Bobbie Price, certification coordinator and graduation assistant; Martha Fothergill, coordinator of records and reports; and Kelly Franke, coordinator of transfer credits and records.

“These ladies have been great at helping me get settled into the job,” Glaze said. “Everyone at HPU has been so kind and helpful.”

Dr. Mark Tew, provost and chief academic officer, expressed his delight in Glaze’s appointment.

“We’re blessed to have found someone like Leigh Ann to fill the void after Lana’s retirement,” he said. “Her experience and skill set, complemented by her warmth and friendliness, make her a perfect fit at HPU.”

Glaze and her husband, Scott, have one daughter, Brittany.


Cutline: HPU recently appointed Leigh Ann Glaze as the university’s registrar.

HPU theatre to premier play by alumnus and staff member Matthew Rutkowski

Salted With Fire poster for webBROWNWOOD – February 24, 2017 – Howard Payne University’s Department of Theatre will open performances next week of “Salted With Fire,” a play by Matthew Rutkowski, alumnus and admission counselor for HPU’s El Paso Center. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 2, through Saturday, March 4, and at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 5. The HPU Theatre is located at 202 Whaley Street in Brownwood.

Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for students and free for all HPU faculty, staff and students with university ID. For tickets or more information, call the university box office at 325-649-8516. Additional performances will be held at Wayland Baptist University in Plainview on Tuesday, March 6, at 8:00 p.m. as part of the Christian University Theatre Festival.

Dr. Nancy Jo Humfeld, chair of the Department of Theatre and professor of theatre, directs the play and Nicholas Ewen, assistant professor of theatre, is the scenic and lighting designer. Both are excited about bringing the play to life on the HPU stage.

“It is a first-rate drama filled with great humor and genuine human tragedy,” said Dr. Humfeld. “Most importantly, it is a spellbinding exploration of the Christian soul in the light of personal sin, redemption and community interaction and interdependence.”

“Salted With Fire” is inspired by the book of the same name by George MacDonald, associate of authors such as C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. The play poses the question, “Why does God let bad things happen?”

“My hope is the audience leaves with the perspective of a good and loving God who walks with us through the difficult times,” Rutkowski said.

Ewen said the opportunity to present an excellent Christian drama by an HPU alumnus is a unique experience. Rutkowski was a student in Ewen’s 2010 online playwriting course.

“Matt is a very talented playwright and just reading the script touched my heart,” Ewen said. “I told Matt that I thought his play would be perfect for the HPU Theatre, but that it would help if there were a few more roles for our student actors.”

Rutkowski was thrilled with the prospect of expanding the cast and, after a few edits, both Ewen and Dr. Humfeld agreed the play was ready for production at HPU and as the university’s entry in the Christian University Theatre Festival (CUTF).

“Touring this show for CUTF is exactly the kind of work that we have been longing to do,” Ewen said. “This proves that there are great Christian plays out there and that HPU is committed to bringing performances that not only have quality and depth but also are a beautiful reflection of our faith and values.”

Dr. Adrial Gil, director of HPU’s El Paso Center and associate professor of business, said the faculty, staff and students of the El Paso Center are extremely proud of Rutkowski.

“He is a creative and passionate young man that is sharing his God-given talents with others,” Dr. Gil said. “We are grateful he is a part of our team!”

Matt Rutkowski for webRutkowski, who is involved in theatre in El Paso, shared insight into his experiences in writing “Salted With Fire.”

“Prayer has always been at the heart of every play I’ve written,” he said. “‘Salted With Fire’ began late one night as I asked the Lord if He wanted our El Paso theatre troupe to continue. We had just finished one production as I stumbled upon the works of George MacDonald. I instantly connected with his stories of faithfulness through the storms of life.”

Rutkowski began drafting the material for the play and praying for the Lord’s direction when he felt God leading him in framing the play differently than the book.

“Thus, the final script became less ‘based on’ and more ‘inspired by’ the original source,” he said.

Rutkowski additionally found guidance from his mentors at HPU.

“Professor Ewen and Dr. Humfeld have been such amazing people to work with and I so appreciate their vision,” he said. “They have directions I never would have considered. They see the staging in such a neat way. This is why I love theatre. It is alive and moving and constantly changing with the interpretation of others.”

Above all, Rutkowski said, he feels humbled to know there are people investing their hearts and valuable time in the production.

“The directors are devising the best means of transferring the words to the stage,” he said. “The crew is working out how to technically support the story. The actors are finding personal meaning and voice in the words.”

Dr. Humfeld said the play has sparked positive discussions in class and in rehearsal.

“Our students are really internalizing the play and analyzing in depth the meaning of every scene,” she said. “It is gratifying to see that level of interest and commitment to the production. They are doing an excellent job and I am so proud of them. I truly believe the audience members will be entertained and inspired by this production.”


Cutline: HPU’s Department of Theatre will open performances next week of “Salted With Fire,” a play by Matthew Rutkowski, alumnus and admission counselor for HPU’s El Paso Center.