News Archives

HPU celebrates Texas Arbor Day

hpu-arbor-day-teamBROWNWOOD – November 8, 2016 – In honor of Texas Arbor Day last Friday, Howard Payne University ceremonially recognized a new Texas Redbud tree on campus and hosted an informational session on planting and pruning trees. Texas Arbor Day is observed the first Friday in November each year.

Nick Harrison, Texas A&M Forest Service Firewise coordinator and former Brownwood resident, led the discussion on selecting and caring for trees. HPU representatives then spread mulch around a newly planted Texas Redbud tree in front of the university’s Office of Admission. TXU Energy assisted the university in securing the donation of the tree for the ceremony as well as 14 additional trees.

“The university is grateful to Mr. Harrison for sharing his expertise and to our friends at TXU Energy for their help in securing this donation,” said Terry Pritchett, who serves as HPU’s assistant vice president for facilities and planning as well as chair of the university’s Campus Tree Advisory Committee. “We’re proud to care for the beautiful campus with which God has entrusted us.”

For more information about Howard Payne University, visit


Cutline: HPU hosted an Arbor Day celebration Friday featuring a newly planted Texas Redbud. Pictured from left to right are Nathan Harwell, TXU Energy representative; Nick Harrison, Texas A&M Forest Service Firewise coordinator; Mike Rodgers, HPU’s chief financial officer and vice president for finance and administration; and Terry Pritchett, HPU’s assistant vice president for facilities and planning.

HPU to host 33rd annual Community Thanksgiving Feast

BROWNWOOD – November 7, 2016 – The 33rd annual Community Thanksgiving Feast at Howard Payne University, a longstanding community tradition, is scheduled for Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 24, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at HPU’s Mabee University Center.

The free Thanksgiving meal consists of turkey, dressing and all the trimmings. Anyone unable to join friends and neighbors at the Mabee Center can have meals delivered to his or her home by calling the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce at (325) 646-9535 by noon on Monday, November 21.

The tradition has been supported throughout the years by numerous individuals and organizations. The staff of HPU’s Sodexo Food Service give up their holiday each year to prepare the feast and volunteers from the campus and the community serve the meal. Last year, more than 1,800 meals were served on campus and through the home-delivery program.

Bill Fishback, HPU’s assistant vice president for business and human resources, said he always enjoys this time of “neighbors caring for neighbors.”

“We are fortunate to have always been able to provide the meals free of charge because of the donations from the caring people and organizations in Brown County,” he said. “Many of the volunteers have helped for years, making serving others part of their annual Thanksgiving tradition,” said Fishback.

Those interested in volunteering may do so by arriving at the Mabee Center, 1219 Fisk Street, at 10:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day. There is no need to call ahead.

If you would like to help support the Thanksgiving meal monetarily, please make checks payable to the “Community Thanksgiving Feast,” and send them to Bill Fishback at Howard Payne University, 1000 Fisk Street, Suite 210, Brownwood, TX, 76801.

HPU’s Concert Choir and Heritage Singers to present fall concert

BROWNWOOD – November 4, 2016 – Howard Payne University’s Concert Choir and the HPU Heritage Singers will present a fall concert titled “Creator Created Creating: My Maker’s Bounding Line” on Thursday, November 10, at 7:30 p.m. The concert will be held in the university’s Grace Chapel and is free to the public.

A variety of musical selections will be presented including works from Joseph Haydn’s “The Creation” which depict the days of creation. During the concert, many allegorical references will be made to Yahweh’s presence through light, water, trees, mankind and the vastness of the firmament, all of which speak to the unfathomable omnipotence of our Creator. Guests can expect to hear a variety of repertoire from Palestrina to Carly Simon, as well as the uproarious depiction of wildlife in Eric Whitacre’s “Animal Crackers.”

Both choirs are under the direction of Dr. Christopher Rosborough, assistant professor of music. Accompanists for the concert will be Dr. Elizabeth Wallace, chair of the Department of Music and tenured professor of music, on piano; and Dr. Allen Reed, retired professor of music, on organ. Dr. Gregory Church, associate professor of music, and Dr. Celeste Church, dean of institutional research and effectiveness and associate professor of music, will play an active role in the musical dialogue of the concert with assistance from HPU alumnus Jesse Smith ’13. Stephen Goacher, professor of music, will also join the choir on soprano saxophone in one song along with a variety of players from HPU’s School of Music and Fine Arts.

“The inspiration for this presentation is that we are created by a divine creator who is continually creating us in His divine image,” said Dr. Rosborough. “I am proud of the work that the Concert Choir and Heritage Singers have done in preparing for this concert. I believe it will be glorifying to God and a blessing to those who attend.”

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


Photo cutline: HPU’s Concert Choir and Heritage Singers will present a fall concert on Thursday, November 10, at 7:30 p.m.

HPU students study nonverbal communication in conjunction with presidential election

Jaclyn BonnerBROWNWOOD – November 3, 2016 – With early voting underway and less than a week until Election Day, Howard Payne University students in Dr. Julie Welker’s Nonverbal Communication course are studying how candidates’ appearance, body language, expressions and other nonverbal cues may impact election results.

“Since the first televised presidential debate in 1960, nonverbal communication has played a major role in how voters consider candidates,” said Dr. Welker, professor of communication and chair of the Department of Communication. “Without realizing it, audiences are persuaded by such nonverbal cues as the candidates’ dress, posture and even blinking patterns.”

Jaclyn Bonner, senior communication major from Lytle, gave a presentation in class Wednesday afternoon during which students analyzed the expressions of candidates during debates. She discussed how nonverbal cues can negatively or positively influence a candidate’s odds of winning an election. Bonner also encouraged others in class to be aware of their expressions and body language when engaged in public speaking.


Cutline: Jaclyn Bonner, HPU senior communication major from Lytle, recently delivered a presentation on “Nonverbal Communication in Presidential Debates.”

HPU Student Speaker Bureau competes in Houston and Colorado, prepares for Oxford

SSB Team PhotoBROWNWOOD – November 1, 2016 – Howard Payne University’s Student Speaker Bureau speech and debate team recently competed at two separate tournaments. The Bayou City Swing was held at San Jacinto College North in Houston and the Southern Colorado Debate Challenge was held at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Four members of the team are also preparing to compete in Oxford, England, later in November.

Braxton Clark, senior social science global studies major from Southlake, won Top Parliamentary Debate Speaker and second place in International Public Debate Association (IPDA) style debate at the Bayou City Swing tournament.

“Braxton has been an unbelievable competitor all three years at HPU,” said Dr. Julie Welker, Student Speaker Bureau team coach and chair of the Department of Communication. “His talent and leadership are really shining through this year.” In September, Clark was named third top speaker at the Rice University debate tournament.

Additionally, Clark and teammate Tyler Olin, sophomore social science jurisprudence and Guy D. Newman Honors Academy major from Howe, were quarterfinalists in National Parliamentary Debate Association (NPDA) debate at the Bayou City Swing tournament.

HPU won second place overall in debate sweepstakes and the tournament.

Other team members competing at the Bayou City Swing were Erin Haley, freshman communication major from Mason; Mike Hord, freshman political science and social science jurisprudence major from Montgomery; Madison Neal, freshman social science jurisprudence major from Chandler; Aimee Orozco, junior communication major from Shepherd; Isabelle Stahrfisher, freshman communication major from Fort Worth; and Haylee Williams, freshman communication major from Bellville. Assistant coach Sidni Kirby, instructor of communication, traveled with the team.

At the Colorado College debate tournament, students competed in World Universities Debating Championships (WUDC) style debate in preparation for their trip to Oxford, England, to compete at the third largest WUDC debate tournament in the world.

WUDC debate involves four teams of two debaters, and each debater presents an eight-minute speech.

“WUDC debate is the standard format of debate on the international circuit,” said Dr. Welker. “Students debate a different topic each round, and we typically debate a minimum of five to six rounds per tournament.”

Competing in Colorado were Morgan Ashmore, senior communication major from Weatherford; Christopher Freeland, sophomore biochemistry major and Guy D. Newman Honors Academy major from Bangs; Reagan Grisham, junior communication major from Arlington; and Andrea Balderas, junior biology major from Lytle. These four students will represent HPU in November at one of the most prestigious debate tournaments in the world, competing against teams from Oxford, Cambridge, Yale, Harvard and many other Tier I universities from the United States and around the world.


Cutline: Howard Payne University’s Student Speaker Bureau recently competed in Houston and Colorado. Pictured from left are: Dr. Julie Welker, Morgan Ashmore, Braxton Clark, Aimee Orozco, Isabella Stahrfisher, Madison Neal, Christopher Freeland, Gabi McWhirter, Erin Haley, Brooklyn Britton, Isaac Sommers, Andrea Balderas, Haylee Williams, Reagan Grisham, Tyler Olin and Ms. Sidni Kirby.

HPU students assist with outreach to Houston’s marginalized

BROWNWOOD – November 1, 2016 – Students from Howard Payne University’s Baptist Student Ministry spent the university’s recent Fall Break in Houston learning about three of the city’s marginalized populations and assisting with outreach programs to those groups.

Led by Keith Platte, director of HPU’s BSM, the group connected with the Church at UH (University of Houston) to learn about the needs of refugees, human-trafficking victims and homeless in the city and how churches in the area are assisting those groups.

The first day they learned about refugees in Houston and how individuals and groups through the Baptist General Convention of Texas have assisted those communities to grow in faith and fellowship. Platte and the students then had the opportunity to play with children in an apartment complex where many Bhutanese and Burmese refugees live.

“Our students got to know some of the challenges that refugees face and how people can learn how best to help them,” said Platte.

The next day, the group learned about the city’s homeless population and human-trafficking victims.

“The first half of the day we cleaned donated shoes for a homeless ministry called Lord Of The Streets,” Platte said. “Then we went to the place where they meet and learned from the group’s director. We got to ask many questions about best practices in addressing help and care for homeless people, and we learned much about the homeless situation in Houston.”

Platte and the students then met with members of a group called Elijah Rising, which helps rescue and restore women who have come out of human-trafficking situations.

“We got to hear from their director, Cat, about the current climate in Houston on sex trafficking, reasons it is growing so quickly and why Elijah Rising is in need of advocates,” Platte said. “Our group also got to tour the Museum of Modern-Day Slavery, which in itself was a huge learning tool.”

The group then traveled through neighborhoods of Houston that have been verified as places which are trafficking women.

The group concluded Fall Break by participating in a worship service with Lord of the Streets during which the students served breakfast and shared in communion with the attendees.

Platte said students grew through their experiences as they saw how some of God’s followers are responding to the city’s needs.

“I believe our students came away with a much greater awareness of God’s heart for the people society has marginalized,” he said.

In addition to Platte, those on the trip included Jaclyn Bonner, senior from Lytle; Karli Conrad, junior from Katy; Taylor Davis, freshman from Alvin; Zoe Emley, sophomore from Natalia; Sarah Fernandez, sophomore from Goliad; Lauren Gravell, freshman from Fredericksburg; Dillon Hughes, senior from Plano; Jessica Meeks, sophomore from Bridgeport; and Bailey Patton, freshman from Grand Prairie. Zac Sterling, campus missionary, accompanied the group.


HPU takes first place at crime scene investigation competition

With reporting by Alsatia Jowers, HPU junior

BROWNWOOD – October 31, 2016 – A Howard Payne University team recently won first place in a crime scene investigation competition at the Southwestern Association of Criminal Justice conference in Oklahoma City. HPU students competed against six other teams from Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

crj-group-photo-for-webHPU participants included Jessica Huckaby, sophomore from Brownwood; Alsatia Jowers, junior from Brownwood; Jacob Salazar, junior from Lockhart; Amy Segura, senior from Brownwood; and Blake Wynn, senior from Rockwall. The team members were students in a crime scene investigation course taught by Dr. Paul Lilly, assistant professor of criminal justice and director of HPU’s Department of Public Safety. Lynn Humeniuk, director of HPU’s criminal justice program and associate professor of criminal justice and sociology, and Gina Gibbs, instructor of criminal justice, accompanied the team to the competition.

“These were dedicated students who represented HPU in a very professional manner,” said Humeniuk. “I am so very proud of these five students, Ms. Gibbs for guiding them at the conference and Dr. Lilly for preparing them in class.”

At the competition, students were asked to demonstrate their knowledge in conducting an investigation by securing the crime scene, finding evidence and creating logs for all information related to the investigation, all in a span of 40 minutes. Each member had a specific task to handle, but the team worked closely together to ensure complete diligence.

Gibbs said she was very impressed with how the students conducted themselves during the conference and at the competition.

“It is very rewarding to work with such outstanding young men and women,” she said. “Our students’ professionalism, courteousness and preparedness made a strong impression on the conference attendees. I am very proud to have them represent HPU.”

The students also attended several roundtable panels and lectures at the conference, during which they learned about many important issues and studies related to the criminal justice system. Topics included incarcerated women, the difficulties students have in online classes and the dangers of the dark net.

Dr. Lilly was unable to attend the conference but said he was proud of the students for winning their first competition.

“Crime scene and criminal investigations are very difficult subjects to learn, and both fields take a tremendous amount of studying accompanied by practical training to master,” he said. “For these students to have taken first place in the competition, and to do so the very first time HPU has ever competed, is simply remarkable. Words cannot adequately express how proud I am of them.”


Cutline: A team from HPU recently took first place at a crime scene investigation competition. From left are Gina Gibbs, Blake Wynn, Jessica Huckaby, Amy Segura, Alsatia Jowers, Jacob Salazar and Dr. Paul Lilly.

HPU to plant Texas Redbud during Arbor Day celebrations November 4

trees-along-hpu-wilson-walkwayBROWNWOOD – October 31, 2016 – The public is invited to the Howard Payne University campus for Texas Arbor Day, Friday, November 4, as the university hosts a tree-planting ceremony and educational program on planting and pruning trees. The events, which begin at 3 p.m. at HPU’s Mabee University Center, are free of charge.

Nick Harrison, Texas A&M Forest Service Firewise coordinator and former Brownwood resident, will lead the training session. At the activity’s conclusion, HPU representatives will plant a 30-gallon Texas Redbud in front of the university’s Office of Admission.

Lacy Sperry, community relations manager at TXU Energy, assisted the university in securing the donation of the tree for the ceremony as well as 14 additional trees.

Terry Pritchett, HPU’s assistant vice president for facilities and planning, serves as chair of the university’s Campus Tree Advisory Committee. The committee was created to ensure the good stewardship of the environment God has given the university to manage.

“We’re thankful to Ms. Sperry and TXU for assisting us in our efforts of maintaining HPU’s reputation of being a beautiful, tree-lined campus,” said Pritchett. “HPU, and the entire Brownwood community, benefits from their efforts.”

Questions about HPU’s Arbor Day events may be directed to the university’s facilities office at 325-649-8608.

More information about Howard Payne University is available online at


Cutline: The beautiful, tree-lined HPU campus will be the setting for an educational program and tree-planting ceremony for Arbor Day on November 4.

Bonner and Mata crowned HPU Homecoming Queen and Princess

BROWNWOOD – October 28, 2016 – Jaclyn Bonner, senior from Lytle, and Adriana Mata, junior from San Angelo, were crowned Howard Payne University’s Homecoming Queen and Princess during a ceremony held today on campus.

Bonner, the daughter of Rosemary and James Bonner, is a communication major and sociology minor. She is the senior presiding senator of the Student Government Association, a leader within the Baptist Student Ministry and a columnist for the Yellow Jacket student newspaper. Additionally, she serves as a resident advisor, as a member of Gamma Beta Phi National Honor Society and as a volunteer intern for Genuine College Ministry. Upon graduating from HPU, she would like to work with marginalized people groups abroad then return to the United States to begin a career in advocacy and government relations.

Mata, an elementary education major minoring in music performance, is the daughter of Gloria and Lupe Mata. She is a member of the Student Activities Council and an honorary member of Sigma Theta Phi. She aspires to become an elementary teacher to share her love of music with the next generation of musicians.

The Homecoming Court will be featured during the halftime show of the football game as HPU takes on McMurry University this Saturday. The game begins at 4 p.m. at Gordon Wood Stadium.


Cutline: Adriana Mata, left, and Jaclyn Bonner, right, were crowned HPU’s Homecoming Princess and Queen, respectively. They are pictured with HPU’s 2016 Coming Home Queen, Martha Dufresne ’71.

HPU to host display of ancient Hebrew scrolls

tanakh-displayBROWNWOOD – October 27, 2016 – Howard Payne University’s School of Christian Studies is partnering with the Christian Heritage Foundation of Cleburne to present “The Tanakh,” a program and display of the scrolls of the Hebrew Bible. There are two opportunities to attend the program – 6 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, November 3. The program, which is free and open to the public, will take place in the Richard and Wanda Jackson Conference Room of HPU’s Paul and Jane Meyer Faith and Life Leadership Center.

The discussion, led by Charles Garrett, executive director of the Ancient Hebrew Scroll Project, is part of HPU’s Lectures in Christian Scriptures series.

The display contains 16 scrolls which Jewish people refer to as the Hebrew Scriptures (Tanakh) and which Christians call the 39 books of the Old Testament. The Tanakh is an acronym which stands for Torah (instruction), Neviim (prophets) and Ketuvim (writings). The scrolls are from Poland, Iraq, Morocco, Russia and other countries around the globe. Each is more than 250 years old, with the exception of six scrolls commissioned by the Christian Heritage Foundation when a worldwide search failed to discover those needed to complete the set.

“Those interested in the study of the Bible might find this program to be very informative and of great significance,” said Dr. Donnie Auvenshine, dean of HPU’s School of Christian Studies. “HPU is proud to host this display and we look forward to welcoming members of the community.”

For more information, visit or contact HPU’s School of Christian Studies at (325) 649-8403.


Cutline: HPU’s School of Christian Studies will present “The Tanakh,” a program and display of the scrolls of the Hebrew Bible. Photo via