News Archives

HPU Homecoming festivities to include bonfire, fireworks and parade

hpu-bonfire-raft-2016 BROWNWOOD – October 11, 2016 – Howard Payne University will host a bonfire, a fireworks show and a parade as featured parts of the university’s Homecoming 2016 celebration. The Bonfire and Fireworks on the Bayou event is scheduled for Friday, October 28, at 9:00 p.m. at Riverside Park in Brownwood. The parade is scheduled for Saturday, October 29, at 10:00 a.m. The public is invited to attend each of these events.

The bonfire will be built on a steel 8-foot-by-8-foot raft that will float on Pecan Bayou. The steel for the raft was donated by Sweetwater Steel in Early and the raft was constructed by Ricky Brooks of Kool Kreations Custom Boat Docks at Lake Brownwood. The HPU men’s soccer team collected the wood that will be used for the bonfire, which will be lit by a flaming arrow shot by HPU senior Ivy Nichols of Richardson. Following the bonfire, an exciting, 15-minute fireworks show will light the night sky. The fireworks are made possible by a generous donation from an anonymous donor to HPU.

“We are excited to have the bonfire and fireworks this year as part of our Homecoming events,” said Stephen Sullivan ’11, MBA ’14, director of development and alumni relations at HPU. “Our hope is that these events will provide an opportunity for HPU alumni to engage with current students as well as the community. Everyone is invited to attend.”

In addition to the bonfire and fireworks, various HPU student organizations will provide games and activities at Riverside Park during the events. The public is invited to bring lawn chairs and snacks for this event. No alcoholic beverages are permitted.

Parade Route Map_Revised_2014This year’s HPU Homecoming parade will follow the same route as last year. Beginning at Brownwood Coliseum, the parade will travel north on Baker St., turn left onto Center Ave., move across Austin Ave. and enter the HPU campus. The procession will end in front of HPU’s Doakie Day Art Center on Center Ave. The best areas to view the parade are downtown and on campus along Center Ave.

The parade will feature student-designed floats and other attractions including the HPU Yellow Jacket Marching Band and the HPU mascot, Buzzsaw. Additionally, there will be a variety of floats and participants from the community.

“HPU’s Homecoming parade will include community, alumni and current student participants,” said Laura Benoit, associate director of alumni relations at the university. “We are excited this year to have Rick Phelps of Victory Life Church in Brownwood to help us coordinate the parade and we look forward to seeing many community members on Saturday morning enjoying this HPU tradition.”

The Homecoming parade is sponsored by Bruner Auto Group.

Community organizations interested in participating in the parade can register online at

A complete schedule of Homecoming events is available online at


An 8-foot-by-8-foot bonfire raft will float on the Pecan Bayou during HPU’s Homecoming 2016 Bonfire and Fireworks on the Bayou event. The raft was constructed by Ricky Brooks of Kool Kreations Custom Boat Docks using steel donated by Sweetwater Steel.

HPU’s Homecoming 2016 parade will begin at Brownwood Coliseum and end in front of the Doakie Day Art Center on the HPU campus.

Scholarships awarded to three HPU pre-college music students

BROWNWOOD – October 11, 2016 – Three students from Howard Payne University’s Pre-College Music and Art Program were recently awarded scholarships at the 18th Annual Music Scholarship Awards in Eastland during the town’s Rip Festival. The scholarship awards were presented by the Nancy Seaberry Frost Arts Endowment.

The Mary Frances Bishop Memorial Scholarship was awarded to 13-year-old Sarah Ann Reeves, a piano and voice student from Goldthwaite. The Wilda Dragoo Music Scholarship was awarded to piano students Christopher Ivy, age 6, and Kyle Ivy, age 12, both of Brownwood. The three scholarship recipients are students of Diane Owens, director of HPU’s Pre-College Music Program.

Each student must present letters of recommendation to the scholarship committee and write a personal letter explaining why he or she is deserving of this monetary award. Academic accomplishments and community service are also factors in becoming a recipient of one of the scholarships.

“I am very proud of these three students,” said Owens. “They all work hard to do their best, are always well-prepared for their lessons and have a love of music. It is a great pleasure to work with them and see them develop into fine musicians.”

NSF Arts has awarded hundreds of music scholarships and sponsored more than 100 concerts across Texas since 1999. NSF Arts is a proud sponsor of many youth music programs in the state that provide concert tickets and music education experiences for Texas school children.

For more information about HPU’s Pre-College Music and Art Program, call 325-649-8500.


HPU’s Yellow Jacket Band given new drum major stand

BROWNWOOD – October 11, 2016 –  Howard Payne University’s Kappa Kappa Psi and Tau Beta Sigma groups recently purchased a new drum major stand for the HPU Yellow Jacket Band. Pictured are HPU’s Kappa Kappa Psi and Tau Beta Sigma group members along with Corey Ash, director of bands and associate professor of music (second row, far right), and Dr. Robert Mangrum, group sponsor, university historian and professor of history and government (third row, far right).



HPU to host UIL speech and debate workshop for area schools

BROWNWOOD – October 7, 2016 – Howard Payne University’s Student Speaker Bureau, the university’s award-winning speech and debate team, will host a University Interscholastic League speech and debate workshop for area high schools. The workshop will take place on Thursday, December 1, from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in the Bullion Suites of HPU’s Mabee University Center. The cost is $25 per student and coaches are admitted at no charge.

Workshops will be held for both novice and experienced competitors. Events will include prose, poetry, informative and persuasive extemporaneous speaking and Lincoln-Douglas and Cross-Examination debate. Experienced competitors are encouraged to bring competition pieces and cases. Students will receive experiential learning and coaching help from college competitors with innovative ideas, creative instruction and results-driven performance.

“We are pleased to be offering this annual speech and debate workshop for area schools,” said Dr. Julie Welker, chair of the Department of Communication and professor of communication.
“We have an exceptional team of 14 forensic competitors on our HPU team this year and they have both the experience and expertise to help coach high school students.”

For registration and other details, please contact Dr. Julie Welker at

More information about Howard Payne University is available online at


HPU students advance at Rice University Speech and Debate Tournament

dsc_0418BROWNWOOD – October 7, 2016 – Howard Payne University’s Student Speaker Bureau speech and debate team recently competed at the Rice University Classic Speech and Debate Tournament at Rice University, in Houston. Two of HPU’s debate teams advanced to the partial-octofinal round at the tournament.

HPU students who advanced in competition include Braxton Clark, senior social science global studies major from Southlake; and Christopher Freeland, sophomore biochemistry and Guy D. Newman Honors Academy major from Bangs; Reagan Grisham, junior communication major from Arlington; and Andrea Balderas, junior biology major from Lytle.

Students must have had a winning record in preliminary rounds to advance. Thirty-two teams from 21 participating schools competed at the tournament.

Dr. Julie Welker, professor of communication and chair of the Department of Communication, directs the team.

“For our first tournament of the year, this is a great accomplishment,” Dr. Welker said. “The tournament at Rice University always draws very competitive teams, so for HPU to advance two teams is quite an accomplishment.”

Students also competed in eight other speech events, including impromptu speaking, extemporaneous speaking, poetry, prose, programmed oral interpretation, informative speaking, persuasive speaking, and dramatic interpretation.

Freshman Erin Haley, communication major from Mason, said that her first collegiate speech tournament was a good learning experience.

“It was unlike anything I’ve ever been a part of, and I’m excited to continue competing and developing my pieces,” said Haley.

Also competing at the tournament were Morgan Ashmore, senior communication major from Weatherford; Brooklyn Britton, freshman theatre major from Brownwood; Gabrielle McWhirter, senior theatre major from Brownwood; Madison Neal, freshman social science jurisprudence major from Chandler; Tyler Olin, sophomore social science jurisprudence and Guy D. Newman Honors Academy major from Howe; Aimee Orozco, junior communication major from Shepherd; Isabelle Stahrfisher, freshman communication major from Fort Worth; and Haylee Williams, freshman communication major from Bellville.

Sidni Kirby, instructor of communication, assisted by travelling with and coaching the team as well.


Photo cutline: Howard Payne University’s Student Speaker Bureau competed at Rice University recently with two teams advancing in competition. 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.

Swonger receives full-tuition scholarship to Howard Payne University as student in Honors Academy

jessica-swongerBROWNWOOD, TEXAS – October 4, 2016 – Jessica Swonger, a recent graduate of Mountain Home High School in Mountain Home, Arkansas, was recently awarded a full-tuition scholarship to attend Howard Payne University as a student in the university’s Guy D. Newman Honors Academy. Swonger, the daughter of Darin and Melissa Swonger, began at HPU this fall and plans to major in jurisprudence, psychology and the Guy D. Newman Honors Academy.

The Guy D. Newman Honors Academy: The Program for Civic Leadership and Public Policy is designed for academically gifted students who aspire to leadership roles in a variety of careers. Students develop critical-thinking skills by analyzing current issues through the multidisciplinary Honors Academy major, which includes courses from the School of Humanities and the School of Business.

Swonger learned of HPU through friends who are alumni of the university. She learned about the Guy D. Newman Honors Academy after looking more closely to see what HPU had to offer. Additionally, she was excited about the opportunity to play soccer at the university.

“I chose HPU because of the large-school opportunities within the small-school atmosphere,” said Swonger. “Howard Payne has everything I need to accomplish my goals and I am able to have an extensive and unique education while continuing my soccer career as a Yellow Jacket.”

At HPU, Jessica would like to participate in Moot Court, Model U.N. and other extracurricular activities. She plans to attend law school after graduation and become an international attorney focused on human trafficking.

“We are thrilled to welcome an exceptional new class into HPU’s Guy D. Newman Honors Academy,” said Dr. Matthew McNiece, director of the Honors Academy. “Jessica joins a small cohort of equally dedicated, bright and talented students as they learn to put into practice the Academy’s motto: ‘Facing the Future with Faith and Knowledge.’”

For more information about HPU and the Guy D. Newman Honors Academy, visit


Photo cutline: Jessica Swonger received a full-tuition scholarship to attend Howard Payne University as a student in the university’s Guy D. Newman Honors Academy.

Marroquin receives HPU New Braunfels Center’s J. Mart Findlater Scholarship

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BROWNWOOD – September 27, 2016 – Marzena Marroquin of New Braunfels has been awarded Howard Payne University New Braunfels Center’s J. Mart Findlater Scholarship. The scholarship, the first to be presented by HPU in New Braunfels, provides $2,700 per semester.

Marroquin, a sophomore business administration major, graduated from Canyon High School in New Braunfels in 2014. She is the daughter of Linda Medrano Martinez of New Braunfels.

“We are honored to have Marzena as the recipient of HPU NB’s first scholarship,” said Christy Meinecke, HPU’s major gifts officer for the south-central region. “Marzena is the type of student who makes her hometown proud and we are thrilled to have her as a student. I am excited to see what the future has in store for her.”

The scholarship was established in memory of J. Mart Findlater by family members to benefit a graduate of the Communities In Schools of South Central Texas program.

“We are thrilled that this scholarship is benefitting one of our Communities In Schools of South Central Texas graduates, opening doors to a high-quality education at Howard Payne University in such a supportive and more intimate environment,” said Christine (Chris) Douglas, chief executive officer of Communities In Schools of South Central Texas, Inc. “We share our appreciation with the donors!”

J. Mart Findlater was a son of Irish immigrants who came to Texas in 1882. Findlater’s father, a rancher who realized other ranchers had a constant need for supplies, founded the Findlater Hardware Co. in San Angelo in 1895 and sold windmills, pipe fittings, water towers and fencing materials. J. Mart Findlater became one of the first Boy Scout Leaders in San Angelo and attended Culver Military Academy in Culver, Indiana, and Texas A&M University in College Station. He also served in the Texas Calvary during World War I. After the war, he joined the family business and eventually became president of Findlater Hardware Co., a position he held for more than 50 years. He passed away in 1972 and is remembered for his unselfish nature, strong Christian faith, integrity and patriotism.

To establish a scholarship at HPU NB, contact Christy Meinecke at or call 830-629-2366.

Since 2012, HPU’s New Braunfels Center has served more than 100 students in its graduate and undergraduate programs. The center recently opened a new facility at 4102 Loop 337, Suite 100, New Braunfels, TX 78130. More information about HPU NB is available online at


Photo cutline: HPU sophomore Marzena Marroquin, of New Braunfels, is the recipient of HPU New Braunfels Center’s J. Mart Findlater Scholarship.

HPU to host world premiere of choral work by alumnus

Alumni_Choir_LogoBRdr-william-batesOWNWOOD – September 23, 2016 – The Howard Payne University Alumni Choir will present a concert featuring the world premiere of HPU alumnus Dr. William Bates’ setting of “O Sing to the Lord a New Song” on Saturday, October 29, at 1:30 p.m. The Alumni Choir will perform during the university’s Concert Choir performance in HPU’s Grace Chapel. All HPU choir alumni are invited to join the choir and be a part of this exciting world premiere during Homecoming.

The new piece was composed by Dr. Bates to honor the HPU music faculty of the class of 1966.

Dr. Bates earned his Bachelor of Music degree in organ and church music as well as a Bachelor of Arts in music theory from HPU in 1966. He went on to earn both his Master of Music and Doctorate of Music degrees from Indiana University. Dr. Bates has presented recitals and workshops for churches and American Guild of Organist chapters throughout much of the United States. He has also presented recitals in Europe, including those at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, and King’s College in Cambridge, England.

Dr. Bates’ teaching career spans a total of 46 years. He served at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, South Carolina, as professor of organ and music history, associate dean and director of graduate studies for the university’s School of Music. In 2012, Dr. Bates was named a recipient of the Oswald Gleason Ragatz Distinguished Organist Alumnus Award at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University.

The Alumni Choir will make its first appearance at Homecoming with hopes of growing the ensemble to explore more performance opportunities. The choir will gather from 8:30-9:30 a.m. on Saturday, October 29, to rehearse and will be showcased at 1:30 p.m. during the Concert Choir concert. The Alumni Choir will present the world premiere of Dr. William Bates’ new piece and join the HPU Concert Choir on Fettke’s “The Majesty and Glory of Your Name.”

The Alumni Choir and the Concert Choir are under the direction of Dr. Christopher Rosborough ’08, director of choral activities.

“The HPU choral program spans nearly 70 years and we are excited to be able to celebrate generations of great music-making on this momentous occasion,” said Dr. Rosborough. “Being an HPU alumnus, I am honored to share in this experience. We are grateful to Dr. Bates for his contribution and encourage the public to come be a part of this ‘new song’ in the HPU School of Music and Fine Arts.”

To join the Alumni Choir, visit

For more information, contact the HPU School of Music and Fine Arts at 325-649-8500 or visit


Photo cutline: HPU will present the world premiere of a choral work by alumnus, Dr. William Bates. All HPU choir alumni are encouraged to join the Alumni Choir and celebrate this honor.

HPU Phi Beta Lambda members compete in national competition

hpu-phi-beta-lambda-groupBROWNWOOD – September 20, 2016 – Four members of Howard Payne University’s chapter of Phi Beta Lambda, a national organization open to all college or university students interested in business related careers, recently competed at the 2016 PBL National Leadership Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. The four HPU students had competed in the spring at the state level and earned the opportunity to advance to the national conference.

Those who attended were Hannah Ball, junior from Justin and chapter secretary; Jessica Harris, junior from Brownwood and chapter vice president; Jody Loudamy, senior from Goldthwaite and chapter president; Rachel Mahagan, senior from Georgetown and chapter historian; and Mike Daub, associate professor of accounting and the chapter’s adviser.

Loudamy placed fourth in the Business Presentation category.

“I am so thankful for the efforts of all of our members because, without their efforts, I would not have gotten as far as I did,” said Loudamy. “This organization gives its members a chance to better themselves, and I hope we continue doing that this year and the rest of our lives.”

In addition to representing HPU in competitions, students had the opportunity to communicate with fellow Phi Beta Lambda members and visit local attractions such as the World of Coca-Cola and the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta Monetary Museum.

Phi Beta Lambda is the university division of Future Business Leaders of America, the largest career student organization in the world. Each year, the organization helps more than 200,000 members prepare for careers in business. The mission of Phi Beta Lambda is to bring business and education together in a positive working relationship through innovative leadership and career development programs.

In addition to business related areas, competitive events include many computer applications, communications applications, sports issues, and others.

The Fall Leadership Conference for the Mountain Plains Region will be held in Dallas, November 18-19 and will feature workshops to help students hone their skills.


Photo cutline: HPU Phi Beta Lambda members recently competed at the national conference in Atlanta, Georgia. From left to right are Hannah Ball, Rachel Mahagan, Jody Loudamy, Mike Daub and Jessica Harris.

HPU sees increased numbers for fall 2016 enrollment

Kevin Kirk Selfie with Students at Chime in 2016.1BROWNWOOD – September 20, 2016 – Howard Payne University’s fall 2016 semester is underway with lots of new faces around campus. The number of first-year students – 321 – at the Brownwood campus is HPU’s second-largest class in 16 years.

Undergraduate and graduate enrollment at HPU’s three locations – the main campus in Brownwood and extension centers in New Braunfels and El Paso – totals 1,189 students, an increase from fall 2015. The figure includes 408 first-year students and transfer students.

“We are very blessed to have this amazing group of students join the HPU community this fall,” said Kevin Kirk, associate vice president for enrollment management. “They are truly a class full of leaders who have brought a strong spirit of service and energy to the campus.”

More information about Howard Payne University is available online at


Photo cutline: Members of HPU’s incoming class of students pose for a “selfie” photo with Kevin Kirk, associate vice president for enrollment management, at a new-student event before the start of the semester. Kirk leads the group in the “Sting ‘em” cheer familiar to HPU Yellow Jackets.