News Archives

HPU alumna named Teacher of the Year at Duncanville’s Central Elementary

Amanda TaylorBROWNWOOD – March 29, 2016 – Howard Payne University alumna Amanda (Hendrix) Taylor was recently named Teacher of the Year at Central Elementary School in Duncanville. Taylor, who teaches visual arts, graduated from HPU in 2012 with a degree in art education.

Taylor has taught for three years, with all three of those years spent at Central Elementary. She piloted the art program for the school and teaches approximately 600 students in kindergarten through fourth grade. In addition to a busy teaching schedule, she volunteers with after-school tutoring, assists with organizing fundraisers and helps decorate the school for special events.

“I am truly honored and humbled to have been chosen by our faculty as Teacher of the Year,” said Taylor. “It means the world to me that they see what I do as important and essential to the life of a child. I love to see my students blossom as they discover new things about themselves and their abilities in the art room.”

Dr. Daresa Voss, interim dean of HPU’s School of Education, was delighted to learn of Taylor’s award.

“Amanda has accomplished so much in just three short years of teaching,” she said. “I’m excited to see the directions in which her career will lead her.”


Photo cutline: HPU alumna Amanda Taylor was recently named Teacher of the Year at Central Elementary School in Duncanville.

HPU criminal justice students to get hands-on training with mock crime scene

BROWNWOOD – March 29, 2016 – Howard Payne University’s criminal justice program will conduct exercises as part of its Criminal Justice Investigations class on Friday, April 1, at 10:30 a.m. During this time, there will be crime scene tape, emergency vehicles and other normal police operations one would expect to see at a major crime scene. The event will be held at HPU’s campus location at the corner of Austin and Coggin Avenues in Brownwood.

Dr. Paul Lilly, chief of HPU’s Department of Public Safety (DPS) and assistant professor of criminal justice, said the community should not be alarmed at the proceedings.

“This is a staged event to help the students learn the many processes involved with investigating a crime scene,” he said.

The HPU DPS will again join the criminal justice program and its students in helping make the crime scene as realistic as possible. In addition to hands-on experience for the students, the DPS uses this scenario exercise each year to aid in providing the DPS officers with regular ongoing in-service training to help them remain current with modern technologies and procedures.

For more information, contact HPU’s Department of Public Safety at (325) 649-8609.

HPU names Coach Hunter Sims university’s athletic director

Hunter SimsBROWNWOOD – March 29, 2016 – Howard Payne University announced today that Hunter Sims, head football coach, has been named athletic director for the university. Sims will serve a dual role as coach and athletic director beginning in fall 2016 and will report to Dr. Magen Bunyard, vice president for student life and dean of students.

Sims was named head football coach at the end of the fall 2015 semester. He additionally served three years as an assistant at HPU before being promoted to offensive coordinator and assistant head coach in 2012.

Sims’ offenses have been some of the best in the American Southwest Conference, setting a new HPU record for total offense in a game last season with 720 yards in a 54-53 road victory. He has coached current HPU career record-holder for field goals Joshua Martinez and wide receiver standout Colby Mica, who recently broke the HPU career receptions record.

Sims is a 2007 graduate of McMurry University with a degree in education and a minor in history. In 2010, he finished a master’s degree in sports management. As a player, Sims was a three-year letterman and two-time Academic All-Conference selection at quarterback at McMurry. After his college playing career was over, he served as a student assistant working with wide receivers and quarterbacks.

During his tenure at HPU, Sims has served as president of the Staff Council as well as on the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) Leadership Board. He has worked football camps around the state and spent extensive time working with the FCA as a camp counselor. He and his wife, Shannon, have two children, Sage and Finn.

Dr. Bill Ellis, HPU president, said Sims’ dedication to his sport is admirable but not to be compared with his devotion to God and his commitment to the students he coaches.

“Coach Sims’ priority is not just to win games, but to be a godly example in the lives of the young men he coaches,” said Dr. Ellis. “For this reason and many more, I am confident that he will do fantastic work as HPU’s next athletic director.”


Photo cutline: Hunter Sims, head football coach at HPU, has been named the university’s next athletic director.

HPU’s Walker Memorial Library to host book sale

Erin Buergner LibraryBROWNWOOD – March 28, 2016 – Howard Payne University’s Walker Memorial Library, through the Friends of the Library, will host a book sale Thursday, March 31, and Friday, April 1. The sale is open to the community with hours of 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. both days.

A large selection of books, including duplicate titles and books the library does not traditionally carry in the academic collection, will be available for purchase. Paperbacks and hardcover books will range from $.50 to $1 with rare books varying in price. All proceeds will benefit students through library improvements.

“This sale gives us a chance to connect with the community, and I am looking forward to showing the public around our library while they browse through the books,” said Alexia Riggs, dean of libraries at HPU.

The goal of the Friends of the Library group is to promote interest in the library and support for its collections and programs. Anyone is welcome to join with memberships ranging from $10 to $100.

“The Friends of the Library group is engaged in a project focused on providing new tools for student learning,” said Riggs. “Proceeds from last year’s sale benefited students by providing the funds for an 80-inch flat panel monitor in our new multipurpose room. This new space gives students a place to collaborate and work on projects inside the library.”

For more information, contact HPU’s Walker Memorial Library at (325) 649-8602 or

Cutline: Erin Buergner, HPU junior from Austin, sorts books for the upcoming library book sale.

HPU music faculty to present recital

BROWNWOOD – March 28, 2016 – Three of Howard Payne University’s School of Music and Fine Arts faculty will present a recital Friday, April 1, at 7:30 p.m. The recital is free to the public and will be held in the university’s Grace Chapel.

“Everyone is welcome to come enjoy this wonderful evening of music,” said Kevin Winter, new adjunct instructor of French horn. “Selections will include works by Schubert, Francaix, Davies and Britten.”

In addition to Winter, faculty members performing include Dr. Elizabeth Wallace, professor of music and chair of the Department of Music, and Dr. Gregory Church, associate professor of music. Dr. Wallace will perform on the piano, Dr. Church will sing tenor and Winter will perform on the French horn.

“Mr. Winter is a welcome new addition to our faculty as he brings an extremely refined level of artistic performance to his work in the studio and on stage,” said Dr. Richard Fiese, dean of the School of Music and Fine Arts and professor of music. “Hearing him perform with Dr. Wallace and Dr. Church on our campus is a wonderful opportunity for our community to hear music-making of the highest order.”

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

HPU students named 2016 Young Maston Scholars by Logsdon Seminary

Robert Martinez

Robert Martinez

Information for this press release was provided by Hardin-Simmons University.

BROWNWOOD – March 23, 2016 – Howard Payne University students Robert Martinez, junior from Copperas Cove, and Kelsan Wolverton, senior from De Soto, were among 15 Texas Baptist students recently honored as 2016 Young Maston Scholars by Hardin-Simmons University’s Logsdon Seminary. The awards were announced during the 16th annual T.B. Maston Lectures in Christian Ethics held on the HSU campus.

Each year Texas Baptist-partnering university officials nominate two students from their university to become Young Maston Scholars, an award recognizing outstanding undergraduate students for their interest in, engagement with and integration of Christian ethics. Nominations for the award are based upon a student’s demonstrated faithfulness to the ethical example of Christ; a commitment to Christian ethics lived out in theological inquiry and academic excellence; an established reputation among peers for ethical Christian leadership; and an articulated clarity in an occupational expression of ministry, though it is not required to be in a congregational setting.

Kelsan Wolverton

Kelsan Wolverton

Dr. Donnie Auvenshine, professor of Christian studies and dean of HPU’s School of Christian Studies, nominated Martinez and Wolverton for the award.

“Bobby Martinez and Kelsan Wolverton are excellent examples of the good students in HPU’s School of Christian Studies,” said Dr. Auvenshine. “We’re proud of their accomplishments and the way they represent HPU.”

For more information about Howard Payne University’s School of Christian Studies, visit or call (325) 649-8403. More information about Hardin-Simmons University may be found at


Photos courtesy Hardin-Simmons University.

HPU’s Resurrection Week concludes with reminder to love like Jesus

Danny CullinsBROWNWOOD – March 23, 2016 – Howard Payne University wrapped its Resurrection Week services Wednesday morning featuring guest speaker Danny Cullins, 1999 HPU graduate. The Mike Romero Band of Houston led worship throughout the week. Resurrection Week is the university’s spring revival event, intended as a time of spiritual renewal for the campus community.

During Wednesday’s concluding service, Cullins delivered what he called the most important of his sermons. He encouraged attendees to love like Jesus loves.

“If we are following Jesus, we will be people of love,” he said. “When we love like Jesus, the world will notice.”

Resurrection Week is held on the HPU campus each year prior to Easter.

“Resurrection Week is about celebrating the fact that Jesus conquered death,” Cullins said. “He did that so that we can live a new kind of life.”

In addition to Resurrection Week, HPU hosts a second revival emphasis, Encounter Week, in the fall. Regular Chapel services are held each Wednesday throughout the year.

For more information about Chapel at HPU, contact Corey Ash at (325) 649-8502 or


Photo cutline: Danny Cullins, 1999 HPU graduate, spoke during the university’s Resurrection Week services. Photo by Christy Ash.

HPU students named among best Texas Moot Court competitors for 2015-2016 season

BROWNWOOD – March 23, 2016 – Howard Payne University students Rebeca Puente, senior from Waskom, and Isaac Sommers, junior from Boerne, were among an elite group of Texas university students to receive year-end awards from the Texas Undergraduate Moot Court Association. Following the pair’s successful Moot Court season, Sommers was named the second overall speaker and Puente was named the ninth overall speaker for the year.

Moot Court offers undergraduate students the opportunity to cultivate their understanding of law interpretation, analytical debate, jurisprudence and case precedents through Supreme Court argument simulation.

Puente and Sommers’ most recent tournament was the 2015-16 American Collegiate Moot Court Association National Tournament held at California State University in January. There the duo advanced to out rounds and ended in the top 32. They also placed third in the brief writing component of the tournament.

They qualified for the national tournament following the Texas A&M School of Law Regional Moot Court tournament during which they were named finalists.

Lorianna Kelley, assistant professor of government, coaches the team.

“Rebeca and Isaac have competed against hundreds of teams from universities across Texas and these year-end awards prove they are among the best in the state,” said Kelley. “I’m very proud of what they have accomplished this season.”


Photo cutline: HPU students Rebeca Puente, left, and Isaac Sommers received year-end awards from the Texas Undergraduate Moot Court Association. They are pictured following an October tournament.

HPU students win top witness awards at regional Mock Trial tournament

Hughes and CounceBROWNWOOD – March 23, 2016 – Howard Payne University students TJ Counce, senior from Lockhart, and Rachel Hughes, sophomore from Llano, won top witness awards at The University of Texas at Dallas Regional Mock Trial Tournament held in late February.

Mock Trial is a simulation of lower-court trials in the United States judicial system. The American Mock Trial Association 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.

Both Counce and Hughes are students in HPU’s Guy D. Newman Honors Academy. Lorianna Kelley, assistant professor of government, is the team sponsor.

“I’m very proud of TJ and Rachel’s successes,” said Kelley. “They worked hard preparing for the tournament and represented the university well.”


Photo cutline: HPU students Rachel Hughes, left, and TJ Counce won top witness awards at a recent Mock Trial tournament.