News Archives

HPU theatre producing “Inventing Montana”

Inventing Montana for webBROWNWOOD – February 25, 2016 – Howard Payne University’s Department of Theatre is producing “Inventing Montana,” a play by Jeanne Murray Walker. Performances will be held at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, February 25, through Saturday, February 27, and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, February 28. The HPU Theatre is located at 202 Whaley Street in Brownwood.

A comedy, “Inventing Montana” tells the story of Montana Winfield, a university professor and Dickens scholar. A young lady comes to his home to bring him an unpublished Dickens manuscript hoping he will read it and authenticate it. As he reads the manuscript, the Dickens characters arrive and tell their story. Montana’s story alternates with scenes from the Dickens novel, invented by the playwright.

“The interspersing of the modern-day characters and the Dickens characters provides an intriguing evening’s entertainment,” said Dr. Nancy Jo Humfeld, professor of theatre and chair of the Department of Theatre.

Following the run in Brownwood, the theatre department will tour the show to the Christian University Theatre Festival, to be held this year at Wayland Baptist University in Plainview March 2-4.

Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for students and children. They are available for purchase on the evenings of the performances. Admission is free for HPU faculty, staff and students. For more information, call HPU’s School of Music and Fine Arts at (325) 649-8500.


Photo cutline: Bryce McWhirter (Montana Winfield), sophomore from Pflugerville, and Hailey Green (Margaret), sophomore from Kennedale, rehearse a scene from “Inventing Montana.”

HPU debaters win big at home tournament

SSB at HPU for webBROWNWOOD – February 23, 2016 – Howard Payne University debaters Braxton Clark, junior from Southlake, and Isaac Sommers, junior from Boerne, won the open parliamentary debate division at the Texas Intercollegiate Forensics Association Spring Championship tournament held at Howard Payne University February 5-7. HPU hosted and competed against 22 teams from 16 colleges and universities.

Clark was named to the Texas All-State Forensics Squad, a prestigious group of students who are nominated by coaches and meet stringent criteria including win/loss records in speech and debate, grade-point average, community service and leadership.

Dr. Julie Welker, professor of communication and chair of the Department of Communication, directs HPU’s Student Speaker Bureau (SSB) speech and debate team.

“Braxton has been a tremendous leader for SSB over the last two years,” she said. “His leadership has helped to grow our team as he has taken an active role in coaching the freshmen and sophomores.”

Clark also won sixth place top debate speaker and Sommers was named 10th place top debate speaker.

Students on the team also competed in individual events, including extemporaneous speaking (current events), impromptu speaking, prose, poetry, informative speaking and persuasive speaking. Also competing were team members Morgan Ashmore, senior from Weatherford; Andrea Balderas, junior from Lytle; Christopher Freeland, sophomore from Bangs; Reagan Grisham, sophomore from Arlington; and Aimee Orozco, sophomore from Shepherd.

“Our team did exceptionally well,” said Dr. Welker. “Braxton and Isaac fought hard to advance and their victory was well earned. I’m proud of the way our team performed and we are continuing to prepare for upcoming tournaments.”

Student Speaker Bureau hosted the three-day tournament on the HPU campus. Almost 200 competitors, judges and coaches were on campus for the weekend.

HPU will travel to Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, Calif., in March to compete in the National Christian College Forensics Association national championship tournament.


Photo cutline: HPU Student Speaker Bureau members that competed in a tournament on the HPU campus earlier this month included, from left, Isaac Sommers, Braxton Clark, Morgan Ashmore, Reagan Grisham, Andrea Balderas and Christopher Freeland. Not pictured is team member Aimee Orozco.

HPU faculty and staff members support heart health awareness

Heart Month 2016BROWNWOOD – February 23, 2016 – Several Howard Payne University faculty and staff members wore special t-shirts on Friday in support of the American Heart Association’s American Heart Month. A group of HPU employees wear the shirts each February to increase heart health awareness.

Back row, left to right: Diane Hackney, custodial supervisor; Ferrisa Childs, assistant director of student aid; Sarah Griffin, library administrative assistant and acquisitions coordinator; Susan Sharp, administrative assistant for the School of Education and certification officer; Kim Bryant, associate professor of communication; Tammy Dake, custodian; and Renee McClung, custodian.

Front row, left to right: Gretchen Campbell, executive assistant to the vice president for student life and dean of students; Dora Hernandez, facilities department coordinator; Dr. Julie Welker, professor of communication and chair of the Department of Communication; Nikki Donathan, cashier; Lucina Ortega, custodian; and Cheryl Mangrum, associate director of admission.


HPU students place third in brief writing at national Moot Court tournament

By Emily Peisker, HPU senior

BROWNWOOD – February 22, 2016 – Howard Payne University’s Isaac Sommers, junior from Boerne, and Rebeca Puente, senior from Waskom, students in HPU’s Guy D. Newman Honors Academy, advanced to out rounds and ended in the top 32 at the 2015-16 American Collegiate Moot Court Association National Tournament. The duo placed third in the brief writing component of the ACMCA National Tournament held at California State University in Long Beach.

The ACMCA National Tournament hosted 80 teams from across the nation, representing the top 25 percent of all competing teams. The teams compete in 10 different regional tournaments around the nation to qualify for the national competition. Sommers and Puente placed first in the South Texas Regional ACMCA Tournament at Texas A&M University School of Law in November to qualify for the national competition. The pair also won top orator awards at the tournament.

Moot Court is a simulated oral argument, similar to an argument made before an appellate court. The argument lasts around 15 minutes, during which time the attorney presents an argument and answers questions posed by the panel of judges. The arguments are evaluated on the application of the law to the facts of the case.

Sommers and Puente completed a successful Moot Court season, including their unanimous win at the UNT Law Invitational Tournament held at the University of North Texas Dallas Law School in October. Sommers also received the fourth-place oralist award at that competition.

Lorianna Kelley, coach for the Moot Court team and assistant professor of government at HPU, serves as a member of the ACMCA board of directors. She praised her team for the success they have had during the last year.

“Isaac and Rebeca demonstrated that they were one of the best Moot Court teams in the nation, finishing in the top 32 of almost 400 teams,” said Kelley. “Their oral advocacy and brief-writing skills won them high praise at the tournament.”


Photo cutline: Howard Payne University’s Isaac Sommers (second from left) and Rebeca Puente (third from left) placed third in the brief writing component of the ACMCA National Tournament. They are pictured with competition judges.

HPU professor presents Christian theatre workshop at TETA conference

Nick Ewen for webBROWNWOOD – February 22, 2016 – Nick Ewen, assistant professor of theatre at Howard Payne University, presented two workshops at the annual Texas Educational Theatre Association (TETA) TheatreFest convention in Dallas last month. The workshops were titled “Lord Nick’s Armor Tricks” and “Roles, Souls and Holy Goals: How to Act as a Christian.”

“Lord Nick’s Armor Tricks” is a workshop that Ewen, a 2002 HPU graduate, has presented many times since 2006. The workshop is about inexpensive, alternative ways for schools to make costumes for theatre productions. Ewen came up with the idea for the workshop unintentionally but out of necessity. Construction and financial constraints led Ewen to create his own homemade armor. Ewen bought inexpensive items from local stores and transformed them into the costumes he needed.

“Costumes are expensive and are a large part of a production budget,” said Ewen. “Costume design is not what I do. This was something fun I tried and it turned out to be a big hit as a workshop.”

The armor workshop led to Ewen’s newer workshop, “Roles, Souls and Holy Goals: How to Act as a Christian.” Ewen said that he felt God was calling him to do something more, so he created a workshop for Christians in educational theatre. At this well-attended TETA workshop, Ewen taught educators that they and their students can put on a great theatre production without compromising their Christian beliefs and integrity.

“The work some schools do in theatre is shocking,” said Ewen. “When high school students audition for scholarships each year, about 75 percent of the auditions include very adult themes –things that aren’t appropriate and that I wouldn’t want my kids to think about or say. These situations are difficult, so I wanted to have a workshop at TETA to talk about what it means to be a Christian in theatre.”

Some of Ewen’s goals for the workshop were to acknowledge his personal relationship with God among a large group of his Texas theatre co-educators, to share his personal revelations about the nature of Christianity as it relates to the profession of theatre and to share in a discussion about the challenges and blessings of being a Christ follower in the role of a “servant artist.”

“I am so proud to have been able to represent HPU at TETA and to have had the opportunity to show many Texas theatre educators who are Christians that they are not alone,” said Ewen.

For more info about HPU’s theatre department, please contact the School of Music and Fine Arts at 325-649-8500.


Photo cutline: Nick Ewen presented a Christian workshop at the TETA convention in Dallas last month.

Father’s love of HPU lives on through children

Alvin Ray TurnerBROWNWOOD – February 15, 2016 – Growing up, the children of Col. Alvin Ray and Patsy Allene Turner heard many stories about their parents’ time at Howard Payne University. Following his death, Col. Turner’s family honored his legacy by establishing the Alvin Ray Turner Scholarship fund at HPU, designed to benefit students majoring in mathematics.

Col. Turner, a 1953 HPU graduate who served in the United States Air Force, and his family moved often to various locations around the country. As he was born and raised in Blanket, Col. Turner enjoyed bringing his family back to Brown County and HPU whenever possible.

“Any time we went to Brownwood, we cruised through Howard Payne,” said Mary Alice Turner, the youngest of Col. and Mrs. Turner’s four children. “Going back to HPU was a big deal.”

According to Mary Alice, her father was very studious and received several scholarships to attend HPU.

“His family didn’t have much money,” she said. “The scholarships were a huge factor in his ability to attend college and lead an active student life.”

She reminisced about her parents’ first encounter in college.

“Dad was a football player and basketball player and, back then, the athletes ate lunch before everyone else,” she said. “He saw Mom and waited for her outside the cafeteria. He asked her to go to the Wednesday night prayer service with him.”

The pair eventually started dating.

“They became big sweethearts,” said Mary Alice. “My parents were one of the couples on campus in those days.”

The Turners were married in 1954 following her graduation from HPU and his earning his wings from flight and pilot training. Shortly after, Col. Turner left for Thailand and Korea. He later served in Vietnam as well. Upon his retirement from the Air Force with 27 years of service, the couple settled in Florida.

Mary Alice TurnerCol. Turner was a lifelong learner. In addition to the Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics and secondary education he received from HPU, he also earned both a bachelor’s degree and Master of Business Administration degree from The University of West Florida in Pensacola.

He and his wife were both active in many churches and served as Sunday School teachers and in lay leadership. The Turner children created a scholarship fund at HPU to honor their parents’ fondness for the university, love for each other and their faith in God.

“My parents’ love for the Lord always inspired me,” said Mary Alice. “Their marriage was 100 percent based on their faith. It was a huge testimony to us kids. Dad, as a local boy, and Mom always remained supporters of HPU as well.”

To learn more about the Alvin Ray Turner Scholarship fund, contact HPU’s Office of Institutional Advancement at (325) 649-8006 or 800-950-8465.


Photo cutlines:

Alvin Turner, pictured in HPU’s 1951 Lasso yearbook, was crowned Harvest King during his sophomore year.

Mary Alice Turner, the Turners’ youngest child, recently wore her father’s Howard Payne letterman’s jacket out to dinner.

HPU’s symphonic band to present concert

BROWNWOOD – February 12, 2016 – The School of Music at Howard Payne University will present the symphonic band in its first concert of the spring semester on Thursday, February 25, at 7:30 p.m. in HPU’s Mims Auditorium.

The band will present a varied and exciting program, including selections from Gallop, from First Suite for Band, and El Camino Real-A Latin Fantasy, both by the legendary American composer, Alfred Reed. Other selections include Variations on a Korean Folk Song by John Barnes Chance; Undertow, by the new American composer for band, John Mackey, as well as selections from Les Miserables, arranged by Warren Barker.

“This is an exciting slate of music that our students have been working really hard to prepare,” said Corey Ash, associate professor of music and director of bands. “There is sure to be music to delight the musical tastes of everyone in attendance.”

There is no charge for this concert and the public is encouraged to attend.

“Bring a friend and enjoy an evening of exciting music, compliments of HPU’s School of Music and Fine Arts and the symphonic band,” Ash added.

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

HPU love story connects generations

Brett and ShannonBROWNWOOD – February 12, 2016 – Like many men who are getting ready to “pop the question,” Brett Ellis, Howard Payne University senior, wanted to plan the perfect proposal for Shannon Matthews of Brownwood, also an HPU senior.

“I originally wasn’t sure what I was going to do,” he said. “Then I talked to my dad and my grandma.”

Brett’s father, Dr. Bill Ellis, HPU president, and grandmother, Nancy Ellis ’48, are quite familiar with HPU romances. Nancy met her husband, Dr. Ray Ellis ’50, at the university and her parents met there as well.

“They told me about a tree out at Riverside Park where my great-grandparents got engaged,” Brett said. “Later, my grandmother showed me the exact tree.”

Brett planned a picnic lunch for Shannon under the tree, complete with the same meals they ordered from Prima Pasta on their first date two years before.

“I thought it was just going to be a celebration of our two-year anniversary of dating,” said Shannon. “He told me he wanted to do something special. We didn’t even get to start eating before he said he had something to ask me.”

Brett admits he was a bit anxious.

“I was really excited and I just couldn’t wait,” he said.

Shannon happily accepted his proposal and the couple will be married on the HPU campus this June.

“I think it’s really fun be a part of this family tradition,” Shannon said of the proposal. “It’s really neat to me to be a part of that story.”

The couple met in choir during Shannon’s freshman year and Brett’s sophomore year.

“I think it started on Easter holiday,” said Shannon. “We had a three-day weekend and he messaged me on Facebook to ask how my break was going. The more we talked and the more we saw each other in choir, the more we clicked. By the second week of talking, we both thought, ‘Okay, I really like this person.’”

Following graduation, Shannon, a family studies major, plans to pursue a career in education and children’s ministry. Brett, a music performance major, plans to attend seminary and pursue a career in music ministry.

Shannon said she still teases Brett about the circumstances of their first date.

“Before we went to Prima Pasta, he asked me if I wanted to go and meet his parents,” she said. “So on the first date, I met his parents who are also the president and first lady of the university I’m attending. It was a little nerve-wracking. But his parents were so nice.”

Through his engagement to Shannon, Brett has enjoyed learning more about his family connections at HPU.

“It’s really cool hearing my grandma talk about how she met my grandpa here and how her parents met here,” he said. “I enjoyed getting to hear the stories from her point of view. It’s great to have that connection with my future wife in the same place, walking around the same campus.”


Photo cutline: Brett Ellis and Shannon Matthews are pictured at the tree under which Brett proposed last spring. Photo by Rindy’s Photography.

HPU’s University Colloquium Series presents herbarium event

BROWNWOOD – February 11, 2016 – Howard Payne University will host its first University Colloquium Series event of the year Friday, February 19, 10:00-10:50 a.m. in Room 121 of HPU’s Winebrenner Hall.

This University Colloquium Series event is entitled Project H.E.L.P. (HPU herbarium, engage in citizen science, locate/label and participate in data collection). Discussion will include the definition of an herbarium, its history and use at HPU and how citizens can assist in the HPU herbarium as well.

Dr. Jack Stanford, professor emeritus of biology, will discuss the importance of herbaria and their history at HPU.

“An herbarium is a repository for plants and a very useful thing,” said Dr. Stanford. “The purpose of the herbarium is to make a record of what plants are there.”

Dr. Marilyn Mathis, associate professor of biology, is the herbarium curator. Dr. Mathis will speak about the herbarium’s need for citizen science.

“We want to get the word out about what an herbarium is and the need for citizen science volunteers,” said Dr. Mathis. “Citizen science is different from volunteering in that we are collecting data specifically for a research purpose.”

Sara Wood, senior biology major from Orange Grove, will discuss the present-day operation of the HPU herbarium during the event. Wood, the herbarium manager, oversees the day-to-day operation along with the almost 30,000 specimens it houses.

There is no charge to attend this event and the public is encouraged to attend.

For more information about HPU’s University Colloquium Series, please contact Dr. Kristen Hutchins, associate professor of biology, at 325-649-8158.


Photo cutline: HPU senior Sara Wood, Dr. Jack Stanford and Dr. Marilyn Mathis (not pictured) will present a discussion about HPU’s herbarium, Friday, February 19.

Three join HPU’s Board of Trustees

Ronnie AndrewsBROWNWOOD – February 9, 2016 – Three Texas businessmen have joined Howard Payne University’s Board of Trustees. The newest members include Ronnie Andrews of Houston, Greg Bruner of Stephenville and D. Lance Currie of Dallas.

The Board of Trustees, HPU’s governing body, convenes for regular meetings three times each year. Dr. Bill Ellis, university president, said he appreciates the commitments each member makes when agreeing to serve on the board.

“Trustees commit not only a substantial amount of time for meetings, but many hours of prayer as well,” said Dr. Ellis. “We’re blessed by the men and women who are faithful to God and choose to serve HPU in this way.”

Ronnie Andrews serves as chief operating officer of Texon LP in Houston. After graduating from HPU in 1983 with a
Bachelor of Business Administration degree in accounting and economics, he went on to earn a Master of Business Administration degree in finance from Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business. Andrews is a member of Houston’s First Baptist Church. He and his wife, Teri (Davis) Andrews ’83, have one child, Madison Andrews, and one grandchild, Penelope.

Greg BrunerGreg Bruner is president of Bruner Auto Family, an auto dealership with locations in Brownwood and Stephenville. A 1984 graduate of Baylor University, Bruner is a member of First Baptist Church of Stephenville, where he serves in a variety of capacities. He serves on the boards of the Stephenville Chamber of Commerce and Stephenville Economic Development. He previously served on the boards of Harris Methodist Erath County, Dodge Advertising Board and the Toyota Dealer Council. Bruner and his wife, Lynda, have one daughter, Courtney Eads (husband Jeremy), and one son, Kyle Bruner. The couple has two grandchildren, Jett and Karis Eads.

D. Lance Currie serves as an attorney with the Dallas law firm Carrington, Coleman, Sloman & Blumenthal, LLP. Currie graduated from Baylor University in 2002 and The University of Texas School of Law in 2008. He serves as chair of the Young Professionals of the Dallas Regional Chamber and chair of Texas Baptists Committed. He previously served as a director of the Texas Young Lawyers Association. A member of Wilshire Baptist Church, he and his wife, Rebecca, have two children,
Ashleigh and David.


Top to bottom: Ronnie Andrews, Greg Bruner and D. Lance Currie