News Archives

HPU honors John Nickols with Douglas MacArthur Freedom Medal

Nickols familyBROWNWOOD – April 18, 2017 – Howard Payne University’s Guy D. Newman Honors Academy awarded John Nickols, assistant professor of history and political science and special assistant to the athletic director, the Douglas MacArthur Freedom Medal at a recent luncheon held on campus. Nickols, who has served at HPU for 22 years, will retire in May.

The MacArthur Freedom Medal honors individuals who share Dr. Guy D. Newman’s vision of promoting Judeo-Christian values, Western civilization, free enterprise and civic engagement. HPU’s Honors Academy, formerly the Douglas MacArthur Academy of Freedom, was founded in 1962 under the leadership of Dr. Newman, who served as president of the university from 1955 to 1973.

In addition to teaching and coaching basketball at HPU, Nickols’ storied career includes time spent as an agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and 25 years as a high school teacher and coach. He has additionally served as a Sunday School teacher and as a board member for the Brownwood Independent School District.

Nickols received the medal from Dr. Bill Ellis, HPU president; Dr. W. Mark Tew, provost and chief academic officer; and Dr. Matthew McNiece, chair and professor of history and government and director of the Academy. Also present were Nickols’ wife, Barbara, and son Eric, who serves on the Board of Directors for the Academy.

“John Nickols is most deserving of this recognition,” said Dr. Ellis. “It’s been an honor to serve alongside him at HPU and to witness the tremendous impact he’s had on the lives of his students and everyone with whom he’s come in contact.”


Cutline: John Nickols, center, was recently awarded HPU’s Douglas MacArthur Freedom Medal. He is pictured with his son Eric and wife, Barbara.

HPU junior Hannah Justice accepted into medical school prep program

Hannah Justice 2017Howard Payne University junior Hannah Justice of Brownwood has been accepted into the Joint Admission Medical Program (JAMP). She is the first HPU student to be accepted into this prestigious medical school prep program.

“I am so excited about this opportunity,” said Justice. “Throughout this journey, God has shown me how faithful He is to provide for my needs by opening doors that I didn’t know existed and by aligning my passions with His will.”

According to the JAMP website, the program was created by the Texas Legislature to support and encourage highly qualified students pursuing medical education. It provides students with educational and clinical learning opportunities to better equip them as they pursue careers in medicine.

Justice heard about JAMP from one of her professors, Dr. Kristen Hutchins, associate professor of biology and JAMP faculty director at HPU.

“I am thrilled that Hannah, who also was recently accepted to HPU’s new Biomedical Science Program, will begin as a JAMP student in the program’s 2017 cohort,” said Dr. Hutchins. “Hannah has actively sought out exposure to the field through medical internships in our community, excelled in her courses and has been involved in campus student organizations all while continuing to walk with the Lord. I couldn’t be more proud of her accomplishments.”

The JAMP application process is identical to a traditional medical school application that is completed the third or fourth year of college. For JAMP, applicants apply between their first and second years of college. Then, applicants who meet the initial qualifications are invited for an interview. After the interview, prospective JAMP students are notified as to whether they have been chosen to be in the program.

“Most pre-med students do not go through an application process like this until later in their time at college, so it was a little nerve-racking at times to go through it as an underclassman,” said Justice. “I wanted my application to be the best it could be. I am thankful that I have such wonderful professors who have mentored me and helped me prepare.”

Justice will participate in an internship this summer at the Texas A&M College of Medicine. She will have the opportunity to participate in clinical and clerkship settings, take medical school classes in basic sciences and prepare to take the MCAT. She will also participate in an internship the following summer. During her next year at HPU, she will apply to all 10 of the medical schools in Texas, a JAMP requirement; take the MCAT; and then interview with each medical school in Texas. Pending her MCAT score, she will be matched to one of the medical schools. Once she graduates from HPU, she will attend medical school for four years and then participate in a residency program for three to five years to become board certified in a specialty of her choosing.

“It’s hard to decide which specialty to go into until you experience clinical observations of each,” said Justice. “I am considering hematology/oncology or infectious disease, and want to serve in the medical mission field.”

Dr. Hutchins shared her final thoughts about Justice and the JAMP program.

“We’re excited to see Hannah progress through JAMP as she prepares at HPU for medical school,” said Dr. Hutchins. “It is an excellent opportunity that we are happy to be part of here at HPU.”

For more information about JAMP, contact Dr. Kristen Hutchins in HPU’s School of Science and Mathematics at 325-649-8158 or


Cutline: HPU junior Hannah Justice has been accepted into the prestigious Joint Admission Medical Program (JAMP).

HPU’s Horton to present senior recital Thursday

Josiah Horton 2016Howard Payne University senior Josiah Horton of Lockhart will present a vocal recital on Thursday, April 20, at 7:30 p.m. in the university’s Grace Chapel. The recital is free and is open to the public.

Horton is a church music-vocal major and English minor. He is from the studio of Dr. Greg Church, professor of music.

“This program has been one of my favorites to build with a student,” said Dr. Church. “The music comes from several different musical periods and is quite challenging. It requires great musicality and sensitivity by both the singer and the pianist to be performed well.”

Recital selections include pieces from George Frederick Handel, Hugo Wolf, Erik Satie and Kurt Weill. Horton will also perform “Four Burns Songs” by Benjamin Brittain and “O wie ängstlich” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Accompanying Horton on the piano is Dr. Elizabeth Wallace, chair of the Department of Music and tenured professor of music.

“Mr. Horton and Dr. Wallace have put a significant amount of work into this recital,” said Dr. Church. “This will be a wonderful evening of music performed by two highly talented musicians.”

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


Cutline: HPU senior Josiah Horton will present a vocal recital on Thursday, April 20 at 7:30 p.m. in the university’s Grace Chapel.

HPU Pre-College Music students compete in festival

Pre-College Music & Art Program LogoBROWNWOOD – April 13, 2017 – Howard Payne University’s Pre-College Music students recently competed in the District 8-4 Junior Festival in conjunction with the National Federation of Music Clubs. The festival was hosted on the HPU campus with 26 of HPU’s Pre-College Music students participating.

Students entered in the Competitive category who earned a Superior rating at the festival are entitled to advance to the state competition at Texas State University in San Marcos on May 20. Of the 26 HPU Pre-College Music students competing, all earned the Superior rating. Those students were Hannah Bessent, Andrew Boren, Michelle Cabrera, Angie Calfa (2), Tony Calfa, Vic Cooper, Christian Fijer, Kirsten Fijer, Leila Gautier, Christopher Ivy, Kyle Ivy, Kamry Keese (2), Mary McIver, Marti Milwee, Michael Morales, Sydney Neel, Aishwarya Nigalye, Sarah Reeves (2), Jordan Roberts (2), Carli Schoen, Cate Smith, Ava Sparks-Hansen (2) and Kyla Tressler. Of these students, 24 will participate at the state level. Participating in the Non-Competitive category and receiving a Superior rating were Christopher Ivy and Evan Smith.

The Pre-College Music and Art Program serves the Brownwood community by offering music and art lessons to children and adults. HPU Pre-College Music students competing in this junior festival ranged in age from 5 to 17 years of age.

“Our congratulations go out to these students and their teachers for their accomplishments,” said Diane Owens, director of the HPU Pre-College Music and Art Program. “We also send our best wishes to those who will compete at Texas State University in May.”

For more information about the Federated Music Clubs, or to inquire about the Pre-College Music and Art program at HPU, contact Owens at 325-649-8501 or


HPU theatre students’ college careers to culminate in one-act plays

hpu theatre seniors for webBROWNWOOD – April 13, 2017 – Three senior Howard Payne University theatre students are spending the final weeks of the spring 2017 semester preparing for the one-act plays that will signify the completion of their time at HPU. The Student-Directed One-Act Plays, capstone projects for all HPU theatre students, will take place April 21-23 at the HPU theatre.

Gabrielle McWhirter of Crosbyton is directing “Going to a Place Where You Already Are.” Show times are April 21 at 7 p.m. and April 23 at 3:30 p.m. “I Hate Hamlet,” directed by Isaac Howell of Georgetown, will take place April 21 at 8:30 p.m. and April 22 at 7 p.m. Show times for “The Bald Soprano,” directed by Bryce McWhirter of Pflugerville, are April 22 at 8:30 p.m. and April 23 at 2 p.m. The plays are free of charge and the public is encouraged to attend.

“I’m so proud of each of their accomplishments,” said Dr. Nancy Jo Humfeld, chair of HPU’s Department of Theatre and professor of theatre. “The students have been hard at work on their plays and I’m excited to see the final results.”

Through the process of directing the one-act plays, seniors transition from cast members alongside their classmates to roles of authority. They make important decisions each step of the way, such as choosing the play, mapping character’s physical movements on stage, dealing with technical elements such as lighting and scenery, and finding props.

“It’s been fun getting to know the cast on a different level as their director rather than as their cast mate,” said Gabrielle McWhirter. “I’ve been working with mostly freshmen, but they’re really talented so I think it’s going to be a good show.”

Bryce McWhirter said it’s exciting to see his show begin to take form on the stage.

“I have nothing but volumes of good things to say about the cast,” he said. “We’re always finding new ideas and new ways to approach the scenes in our rehearsals.”

As underclassmen, each of the three performed in senior students’ one-act plays.

“I had good experiences working with student-directors, and I wanted to make sure my cast had that same kind of good experience while also ensuring the show is good,” said Isaac Howell.

By their last semester at HPU, theatre students have received instruction in acting, lighting, set building, makeup artistry, diction and all the other components of successful theatrical productions.

“All of the courses they have taken up to this point play into what they’re doing here,” said Dr. Humfeld. “It’s a fun business, but there a lot of details that need to be addressed.”

Gabrielle McWhirter said she’s amazed by Dr. Humfeld and the level of expertise she brings to HPU’s Department of Theatre.

“She thinks of everything so fast,” she said. “When I was reading my script, I thought, ‘How am I going to get ice cream onstage without it melting?’ Just like that, Dr. Humfeld said, ‘Mashed potatoes.’ I would never have thought of that.”

Dr. Humfeld, who is in her 31st year of teaching at HPU, said she encourages students to “be sponges” and absorb everything they can in life.

“You never know when some little tidbit you learn is going to help you in a show,” she said.

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


Cutline: Three HPU seniors majoring in theatre will present Student-Directed One-Act Plays. Left to right: Isaac Howell, Gabrielle McWhirter and Bryce McWhirter.

HPU Resurrection Week services lead up to Easter holiday

Mike Satterfield at HPU for webBROWNWOOD – April 12, 2017 – Howard Payne University’s Resurrection Week services concluded this morning with guest speaker Mike Satterfield reminding the audience of what it means to be fully committed to God.

“God wants you fully pledged and fully His because Jesus fully came, fully died and fully rose again,” said Satterfield, founder of Field of Grace Ministries and teaching pastor at Fielder Church in Arlington.

HPU hosts Resurrection Week each year just prior to Easter. The event is intended as a time of spiritual renewal for the campus community. The Darnell Band of Austin led worship at each service.

“We’re thankful to Mike Satterfield and The Darnell Band for the blessings they’ve been this week,” said Corey Ash, director of bands and Chapel coordinator. “We’re heading into the Easter holiday ready to worship our risen Savior.”


Cutline: Mike Satterfield, founder of Field of Grace Ministries and teaching pastor at Fielder Church in Arlington, was the guest speaker for HPU’s 2017 Resurrection Week services.

HPU represents Baptist World Alliance at UN Commission on Status of Women

HPU group in NYCBROWNWOOD – April 11, 2017 – Representatives from Howard Payne University were among those in New York City recently for the 61st session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. Thanks to the Baptist World Alliance, two HPU faculty members, two students and a recent graduate were able to attend the UN conference among diplomats and other leaders from around the world.

HPU representatives included Dr. Melody Maxwell, assistant professor of Christian studies; Jennifer McNiece, assistant professor of government and director of international studies and academic travel; Elizabeth Allen, senior cross-cultural studies major from Brownwood; Rebeca Puente, senior Guy D. Newman Honors Academy and jurisprudence social science major from Waskom; and Jessi Jordan, a 2015 HPU graduate now studying at Yale Divinity School in New Haven, Connecticut.

The Commission on the Status of Women helps shape global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women. Through her connections with the Women’s Department of the Baptist World Alliance, a fellowship of Baptist conventions and unions from around the world, Dr. Maxwell received five conference passes. Others representing the BWA included female leaders from each continent and representatives from 14 countries.

“The conference discussed what life is like for women around the world,” Dr. Maxwell said. “It was eye-opening to learn about issues that many women face and a great opportunity for our student leaders to discuss issues related to women. Learning about these topics alongside outstanding Baptist women from across the globe was an invaluable experience.”

Puente, who is preparing for a career in law, spoke about the opportunity to meet with leaders from around the world.

“At one of the events, I sat next to the Minister on Gender Equality for Iceland and listened to him talk about the work he’s doing for gender equality in his country,” she said. “At another event, women parliamentarians from around the world told us about their experiences facing violence in their countries because they are women in politics.”

As Christians at a largely secular conference, the HPU group members were tasked with considering how their faith speaks to such issues. Together with leaders from the Baptist World Alliance Women’s Department, they prayed for the women of the world and discussed how the love of Christ motivated them to serve women in need.

“Our students, who are moving toward careers in ministry and law, were able to think about how they can be Christian leaders in today’s society,” said McNiece.


Cutline: A group from Howard Payne University recently attended the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women conference in New York City. Left to right: Dr. Melody Maxwell, Jennifer McNiece, Rebeca Puente, Jessi Jordan and Elizabeth Allen.

HPU Moot Court team dominates SMU tournament

Puente and Sommers with judges 2017BROWNWOOD – April 11, 2017 – Howard Payne University’s Moot Court team successfully defended its position as one of the best in the state by winning the recent tournament at Southern Methodist University. Seniors Rebeca Puente of Waskom and Isaac Sommers of Boerne were the tournament champions, defeating a team from the University of North Texas. Three of HPU’s five teams were among the top 10 at the tournament.

Additionally, Sommers and Jordan Hahn, freshman from Burnet, were named the conference’s second and ninth top speakers, respectively.

Moot Court is a competition during which students participate in the preparation and arguing of cases in front of judges, designed to simulate argument before the United States Supreme Court. The case and allowed resources are selected beforehand and students must prepare arguments for both sides (petitioner and respondent). Moot Court involves appellate cases as opposed to those at the trial level, which are often called “mock trials.” Judges are usually law professors, attorneys from the community and even members of the judiciary. Students are judged on their ability to incorporate case law into their arguments, their oral and written arguments and their presentation style.

Lorianna Kelley, assistant professor of government, coaches the team. Dr. Matthew McNiece, chair and professor of history and government and director of HPU’s Guy D. Newman Honors Academy, expressed his appreciation for Kelley’s guidance.

“She not only coaches but consistently mentors these tremendous young scholars,” he said. “While their natural talent would undoubtedly lead them to success in just about any environment, I am deeply convinced that it is their time at HPU that will prepare them for excellent use of their gifts in the service of God and their communities.”


Cutline: HPU Moot Court competitors Isaac Sommers and Rebeca Puente (holding plaques) are pictured with competition judges.

HPU brings home awards from Christian University Theatre Festival

Salted With Fire playBROWNWOOD – April 11, 2017 – Howard Payne University’s Department of Theatre was honored recently for its achievements at the Christian University Theatre Festival held at Wayland Baptist University. The department performed “Salted With Fire,” a play by Matthew Rutkowski, alumnus and admission counselor for HPU’s El Paso Center.

HPU won Outstanding Achievement in Costuming and individual awards were given to Katie Cravey, freshman from Huntsville; Hailey Green, junior from Kennedale; and Isaac Howell, senior from Georgetown. Cravey and Howell were awarded for Outstanding Achievement in Acting while Green was named Outstanding Technical Crew Member. Cravey was also named the Outstanding Festival Performer, the festival’s highest award.

“The play was very well received,” said Dr. Nancy Jo Humfeld, chair of HPU’s Department of Theatre and professor of theatre. “We were also honored to have our playwright at the performance.”

“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 prior to the play’s debut.

Dr. Celeste Church, dean of institutional research and effectiveness and associate professor of music, attended a performance of “Salted With Fire” on the HPU campus.

“I found the play to be one that penetrates the heart,” she said. “There are so many layers of meaning in the play and the quiet, honest struggle and beauty of the characters brought tears to my eyes.”

The Christian University Theatre Festival was created more than 20 years ago by the theatre directors from HPU, Hardin-Simmons University and Wayland Baptist University as a means to come together to share their art and love of theatre in a Christian setting. The festival rotates among the campuses of Texas Christian universities each year.

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


Cutline: HPU theatre students perform “Salted With Fire.”

HPU’s Emery to present senior recital Tuesday

Timothy EmeryHoward Payne University senior Timothy Emery of Brownwood will present a vocal recital on Tuesday, April 11, at 6:30 p.m. in the university’s Grace Chapel. The recital is free and is open to the public.

Emery is a church music-vocal major and practical theology minor and will graduate in May. He is from the studio of Dr. Greg Church, associate professor of music.

“This recital is made up of vocal solo music from several different musical periods,” said Dr. Church. “The pieces come from the Baroque, Classical and Romantic eras as well as music written within the last twenty years.”

Recital selections include pieces from Franz Shubert, Henry Purcell, Richard Wagner, Gabriel Fauré and Stephano Donaudy. In addition, Emery will perform “Three Byron Songs” by David Ashley White and “Madamina! Il catalogo é questo” from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s famous opera “Don Giovanni.” Accompanying Emery on the piano is Dr. Elizabeth Wallace, chair of the Department of Music and tenured professor of music.

“Mr. Emery is singing very well and, though he has a powerful voice, sings with sensitivity,” said Dr. Church. “I believe this will be a very successful recital which everyone will enjoy.”

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


Cutline: HPU senior Timothy Emery will present a vocal recital on Tuesday, April 11 at 6:30 p.m. in the university’s Grace Chapel.