News Archives

Book and film on women in geology to profile retired HPU faculty member

Marie Gramann and classmates for webBROWNWOOD – September 30, 2015 – Retired Howard Payne University faculty member Marie Gramann doesn’t consider herself a pioneer in geology, but from a young age the field held natural appeal.

“I was thirteen years old when I decided I wanted to be a geologist,” she said. “I don’t know why. I was raised in Cuero, a small town between San Antonio and Houston. There were no geologists there at the time.”

Gramann went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in geology in 1936 from The University of Texas, one of the first women to earn that particular degree from the institution. She spent the next several years working for oil companies in San Antonio, Corpus Christi and Austin before arriving in Brownwood to teach at HPU.

Gramann’s story – and the stories of several other women in the field – caught the attention of Robbie Gries, past president of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG). Gries is compiling interviews for a book and film on women geologists in petroleum from 1918 through the late 1980s.

“She is a delight,” said Gries of Gramann. “As I enjoy the late years of my career, I have taken on a project to honor the real pioneers in our field.”

While the project is a few years away from completion, friends and former colleagues are thrilled that Gramann will be recognized in this way.

Betty Broome, who retired from HPU in 2012 as executive assistant to the president, said Gramann was one of the first friends she made on campus when she came to the university in 1986.

“Miss Gramann was a friend to faculty and staff, and enjoyed getting to know the students in her classes,” Broome said. “Though retired for many years, she can still carry on a lively discussion about fracking!”

Gramann has been a member of AAPG for more than 60 years and is a past member of geological societies in San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Austin and Abilene.

“She knows so much about geology,” said Margaret Blagg, a family friend. “She knows everything about the geology of this area.”

With Gramann’s membership in the organization, she also receives the AAPG Explorer magazine. Gramann herself was featured in the magazine in 2013.

“She has a keen interest in them,” Blagg said. “She reads every issue cover to cover.”

Following her career in the oil industry, Gramann moved to Brownwood in the 1960s to be nearer to family. She was approached by a friend, the late Dr. George Baker, who was then head of Howard Payne’s music department.

Marie Gramann 1974 for web“He said, ‘Why don’t you let me make an appointment for you with the dean? They don’t have anyone to teach geology,’” said Gramann. “I had never taught before in my life.”

Gramann signed a teaching contract on a Saturday in 1965. School began the following week.

“Nobody in his or her right mind would do what I did,” Gramann said, laughing.

That Monday and Tuesday, she drove to Austin and Waco to consult with colleagues at The University of Texas and Baylor University. They gave her a few rocks and minerals to begin her lab and suggested a textbook and lab manual.

Gramann stayed busy as a first-year teacher.

“I would read and read and read, then type a lecture, then go to school, then come home and read and read and read,” she said. “I made it, somehow.”

Some of her favorite memories from Howard Payne include geology field trips with students and a concert the band dedicated in her honor. A page in the 1974 Lasso yearbook reads, “Because of the inspiration she has given us in friendship, in professionalism, in scholarship and in personal conduct, the 1974 Lasso is dedicated to Marie Gramann, assistant professor of geology.”

Dr. Jack Stanford, professor emeritus of biology who retired from HPU in 1999, worked closely with Gramann.

“Students loved her,” he said. “She knows her subject very, very well. She loved field trips and was always well prepared for them. She knows absolutely everything about the geology of Brown County.”

Gramann said she’s a “people person.”

“I just enjoyed everything about teaching at Howard Payne,” she said.

She retired in 1990 following 25 years of teaching. She still laughs when she thinks about her start at Howard Payne.

“The one thing I never, ever intended to do was teach,” she said. “Don’t ever say what you never intend to do, because you might do it.”

Brownwood resident Gene Deason, a 1972 HPU graduate, said Gramann was not only one of the best professors he had at the university, but also one of the dearest individuals he has ever had the honor to know.

“Her enthusiasm for the subject she taught was contagious,” he said. “Students had to find out what all her excitement was about when we went on field trips and discovered how many stories those rocks and dirt could tell. What started out as a science class needed for my degree turned into an unending appreciation of what the layers of earth lying just below our feet, or visible due to excavations for highways, can tell us about the past.”

After he graduated, Deason became better acquainted with Gramann as a fellow member of the community.

“I came to appreciate not only her professionalism and knowledge, but also her goodness and kindness,” he said. “I am thankful God put me in her path.”


Photo cutline: Marie Gramann, right, is pictured in the field with classmates from The University of Texas. The students were the first female participants in UT’s geology field course. Photo courtesy of The University of Texas at Austin Jackson School of Geosciences.

The 1974 Lasso yearbook was dedicated in Marie Gramann’s honor. She is pictured, in a photo from the yearbook, in her office at HPU.

HPU announces Alumni Association directors

Alumni Association Board 2015-16 for webBROWNWOOD – September 29, 2015 – Howard Payne University’s Alumni Association recently announced its Board of Directors for the 2015-2016 academic year.

Board members include Bobbette Bell ’87 of Salado, Shane Blackshear ’04 of Austin, L.J. Clayton ’77 of San Antonio, Melanie Bigbee Clonts ’75 of Austin, Jane Collette ’81 of McKinney, Dr. Dan Crawford ’64 of Fort Worth, Gene Deason ’72 of Brownwood, Kollin Fields ’13 of Waco, Kathy Caudill Garza ’83 of San Antonio, Matthew Haynie ’08 of Bandera, Autumn Hendon ’02 of Waco, Kristi Franklin Hyatt ’86 of Midland, Brandon Ireton ’07 of San Angelo, Marilynn Bock Jackson ’73 of Brownwood, Kenna Jordy ’99 of Temple, Robert Morrison ’82 of Montgomery, Chelsea Murphree ’11 of May, Debbie Prude ’78 of Abilene, Danny Quintanilla ’82 of Cypress, Jarod Root ’03 of Flower Mound and Robin Lemma Sellman ’82 of George West.

The Alumni Association is a network of former students whose support of HPU furthers university interests such as recruitment, scholarships, student initiatives, Homecoming and more.

“We’re very grateful for Alumni Association members and give special thanks to those who serve on the Board of Directors,” said Stephen Sullivan ’11, ’14, director of development and alumni relations. “The combined efforts of our alumni play a direct role in the lives and success of our current students.”


Photo cutline: HPU’s Alumni Association recently announced its Board of Directors for the 2015-2016 academic year. Left to right: Jane Collette, Debbie Prude, Gene Deason, Matt Haynie (back row), Autumn Hendon (front row), Shane Blackshear, Jarod Root (back row), Kenna Jordy (front row), Bobbette Bell, Robert Morrison (back row), Robin Lemma Sellman (front row), Kollin Fields, L.J. Clayton (back row), Danny Quintanilla (front row), Chelsea Murphree, Kathy Caudill Garza, Kristi Franklin Hyatt and Dr. Dan Crawford. Not pictured are Melanie Bigbee Clonts, Brandon Ireton and Marilynn Bock Jackson.

HPU junior Sarahi Castillo awarded UPS Scholarship

BROWNWOOD – September 22, 2015 – Sarahi Castillo, a junior at Howard Payne University, was recently selected to receive a UPS Scholarship provided by the ICUT Foundation and its national partner, the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC).

Sarahi is the daughter of Maria C. Medina and Larry Medina of El Paso and a 2013 graduate of Montwood High School. She is majoring in exercise and sport science at HPU and is a member of the women’s basketball team.

At the national level, CIC teams with the UPS Foundation to distribute funding of the UPS Scholarship. Through the program this year, the ICUT Foundation awarded $88,200 in UPS Scholarships to 36 students at private institutions across Texas.

CIC is an association of 744 nonprofit independent colleges and universities and higher education affiliates and organizations that has worked since 1956 to support college and university leadership, advance institutional excellence and enhance public understanding of private higher education’s contributions to society. One of CIC’s major program areas is its work with member fundraising consortia of private colleges, including the ICUT Foundation.


Photo cutline: HPU junior Sarahi Castillo was recently awarded a UPS Scholarship.

HPU to host Encounter Week

HPU Encounter Week for web

By Rachel Ellington, HPU senior

Saleim Kahleh for webBROWNWOOD – September 18, 2015 – Howard Payne University will host Encounter Week fall revival services next Monday, September 21, through Wednesday, September 23. This year’s guest speaker is Saleim Kahleh and worship will be led by the Nick Gainey Band.

Kahleh, originally from Iran, resides in Houston. Since coming to know Christ as a senior in high school, Kahleh has given up everything to serve.

Yet he states, “My story is not about a man’s faithfulness to God; it’s about God’s faithfulness to man.”

Kahleh is the founder of SK Ministries and has traveled all over the world sharing his faith.

Nick Gainey Band for webNick Gainey graduated from HPU in 2008 and is currently on staff at Connection Community Church in Rowlett, Texas. His band recently released its newest album, “Exalt.”

“We’re really simple guys,” Gainey says. “We love the Gospel, and we love to sing about it.”

Services will be held in HPU’s Mims Auditorium at 10:00 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday, and Wednesday at 10:00am. All Encounter Week services are open to the public.

Corey Ash, chapel coordinator, associate professor of music and director of bands, asks for prayer during this time of spiritual renewal on campus.

“We ask everyone to pray that we will all be prepared to engage in what God wants to do in each of us during these days of renewing,” he said. “May He show up in a powerful way!”


Photo cutlines: Saleim Kahleh, founder of SK Ministries, is the scheduled guest speaker for HPU’s Encounter Week services.

The Nick Gainey Band will lead worship during the services.

HPU group experiences God’s work in South Africa

HPU group in South Africa for webBROWNWOOD – September 18, 2015 – Five Howard Payne University students and two faculty members that traveled to South Africa during the summer were reminded that God is at work – in huge ways – around the world.

Led by Dr. Melody Maxwell and Dr. Derek Hatch, both assistant professors of Christian studies, the students spent two weeks touring the country, volunteering with Christian organizations and worshipping with more than 2,500 Baptists from around the globe at the 21st Baptist World Congress. They joined more than 60 other individuals from Baptist churches across the United States in serving through the South Africa Ministry Network.

The trip is a component of Dr. Maxwell’s International Missions Practicum, a capstone course for cross-cultural studies majors. The students spent the semester before they left learning about short-term missions and the history, culture and people of South Africa.

“One of the most exciting aspects of the trip was seeing things that we had learned about in class,” said Rachel Ellington, senior from Garland, mentioning sites such as the Apartheid Museum and Lesedi Cultural Village. “The world is a much bigger place than I thought. God is much more creative and the church is much more diverse than I ever dreamed.”

The group spent the first week working with the Refilwe Community Project near an informal settlement north of Johannesburg. Refilwe is a multivalent Christian organization that focuses on child care, community care and skills development.

Dr. Maxwell said the HPU group got to experience a bit of many of the ministries Refilwe has to offer such as farming, child care, kids clubs and more.

“It was a really incredible opportunity for us all to see how God was at work and how we could participate in God’s work,” she said.

The next several days were spent participating in the Baptist World Congress. The host of the event, the Baptist World Alliance, is a fellowship of Baptist believers comprised of 42 million members from 121 countries and territories.

“Experiencing the Congress really expands your boundaries and understanding of the global church,” said Dr. Maxwell.

Scripture was read or presented in approximately 25 different languages during the worship services.

“The Congress’ location on the African continent promised to bring a great deal of diversity to its attendance,” said Dr. Hatch. “I think it really made good on that promise.”

The students were required to seek out people from other cultures to learn about life and Christianity around the world.

“Getting to share life and experiences with people from all over the world was such a remarkable and eye-opening experience for me,” said Mikayla Warren, senior from Salado. “The trip was full of a lifetime of stories and memories and friendships.”

Among the things they learned from leaders of the South Africa Ministry Network was to embrace a “pilgrim’s posture.”

“People go on pilgrimages to seek the presence of God in other places,” said Dr. Hatch. “We weren’t going to bring Christ to South Africa but to encounter Christ in South Africa. He was already working there.”

The Congress served as a good reminder of Christ’s actions around the world.

“It’s really powerful to worship with brothers and sisters in Christ, saying the Lord’s Prayer in your own language and hearing everyone in the room do the same,” said Dr. Maxwell. “It’s fascinating to watch the room explode with dancing and singing and music from different cultures. It’s a privilege for us to be able to travel with, learn from and serve alongside the global Christian community.”

Lance Rhodes, senior from Corsicana, said the trip reminded him of his calling and passion for missions.

“This course rekindled the previously forgotten passion in my heart to go among the nations and proclaim the glory and the grace of Christ,” he said.

Additional students on the trip included Cristalyn Fitzgerald, senior from Burleson, and Paul Warren, May 2015 graduate from Salado.


Photo cutline: While in South Africa, HPU students and faculty met up with HPU alumni Dr. Chris and Mrs. Cindy Liebrum who were also attending the Baptist World Congress. Left to right: Cindy Liebrum, Cristalyn Fitzgerald, Paul Warren, Lance Rhodes, Mikayla Warren, Dr. Derek Hatch, Rachel Ellington, Dr. Melody Maxwell and Dr. Chris Liebrum.

HPU enters fall 2015 semester with increased enrollment

Jacket Journey group photo 2015 for webBROWNWOOD – September 16, 2015 – Faculty, staff and students at Howard Payne University entered the fall 2015 semester recently with increased enrollment and excitement over the months to come. Total undergraduate and graduate enrollment at HPU’s three locations is 1,163 students, a 2.2 percent increase over fall 2014. The figure includes 382 incoming freshmen and transfer students.

“We have certainly been blessed with an amazing group of students this year,” said Kevin Kirk, associate vice president for enrollment. “It is really great to see them already connecting to the campus community.”

Dr. Trissa Cox, professor of computer information systems, said summer is a great time of renewal but students are the lifeblood of campus.

“Howard Payne’s campus was never meant to be quiet,” she said. “I’m excited to see students back at HPU and around Brownwood.”

Dr. W. Mark Tew, HPU provost and chief academic officer, said the entire campus community plays a large role in the recruiting efforts.

“In addition to the excellent work of our admission staff, the university is particularly indebted to the personnel in the offices of business affairs, financial aid and the registrar for countless hours of behind-the-scenes efforts to bring in this class,” he said. “I am deeply appreciative of the university’s faculty who are invaluable to the process of recruitment and retention by providing exemplary education and loving Christian support to all our students.”

Nathan Lacy, freshman from Brownwood, said he already feels like a member of the HPU “family.”

“I’m looking forward to future semesters and the many wonderful things I am about to learn,” he said.

Like many other students from the area, Lacy benefits from HPU’s Heart of Texas Scholarship which awards substantial financial assistance to students from Brown County and other nearby counties.

Lacy said he chose HPU not just for the quality education but because he feels it is the best place for him to grow and prosper as an individual.

“I am extremely happy that I received the Heart of Texas Scholarship,” he said. “It was a tremendous help.”

HPU is always excited to welcome new members to the family. If you’re interested in learning more about becoming an HPU Yellow Jacket, visit, e-mail or call (325) 649-8020.


Photo cutline: New freshmen are pictured with upperclassmen leaders during HPU’s Jacket Journey new-student orientation.

HPU students pray at remembrance event for those affected by 9/11 tragedies

BROWNWOOD – September 11, 2015 – Several Howard Payne University students prayed and reflected on the events of September 11, 2001, during a remembrance event hosted on campus Friday by the Student Government Association. Students were invited to place American flags in the ground near the university’s Bell Towers.

Mike McConnell, SGA president, said students in SGA believe prayer is the strongest form of patriotism.

“We’re glad that we were able to create an event that emphasizes the importance of spiritual strength in the face of adversity and hope that students remember to spend time praying for all those personally affected by the 9/11 tragedies, as well as thanking God for His faithfulness,” said McConnell.


Photo cutline: HPU students placed flags around the university’s Bell Towers in remembrance of the 9/11 tragedies.

HPU’s Dr. Evelyn Romig named Distinguished Professor of Literature

BROWNWOOD – September 10, 2015 – After 34 years of extraordinary service to Howard Payne University, Dr. Evelyn Romig has accepted the position of HPU’s first Distinguished Professor of Literature.

Dr. Romig has served the university faculty as head of the Department of English, dean of the School of Humanities, president of the Faculty Assembly and, since 1988, as full professor of English.

“When Dr. Romig expressed the desire to reduce her teaching load or possibly retire, we discussed the opportunity for her to serve in a new role,” said Dr. W. Mark Tew, university provost and chief academic officer. “Known for her innovations in classroom teaching, Dr. Romig is again assisting the university to pioneer new avenues of educational excellence.”

As the university’s first Distinguished Professor of Literature, Dr. Romig will continue to teach on a limited basis, providing the same exemplary experience for which she is known.

“I can’t think of a teacher who better balances commitment to her subject matter with commitment to her students,” said Dr. Millard Kimery, professor of English and chair of the Department of English. “The English department is lucky to have more time to learn from her example.”

Dr. Romig is the recipient of numerous Excellence in Teaching Awards at HPU and the Outstanding Faculty Member of the Year Award in 1991. She is published by Salem Press and in scholarly publications such as Dickens Quarterly and Literature and Psychology. She earned a Master of Arts degree from Texas A&M University and Doctor of Philosophy degree from Rice University.

Dr. Romig has been very engaged in the community, serving as a leader at the United Methodist Church, as member of the American Association of University Women and with the Pecan Valley Arts Festival. She served for 12 years with the Brownwood Independent School District Board of Trustees, including a term as its president.

“I am excited for our students and the university that Dr. Romig will remain on the faculty through which she has served the Brownwood community so faithfully,” said Dr. Tew.


Photo cutline: Dr. Evelyn Romig was recently named HPU’s first Distinguished Professor of Literature.

HPU advances in U.S. News & World Report rankings

BROWNWOOD – September 9, 2015 – Howard Payne University advanced in two categories in the 2016 edition of “Best Colleges” by U.S. News & World Report released Wednesday. HPU jumped two places from 2015 to be ranked second among the regional colleges of the west in the “Great Schools, Great Prices” category. Additionally, the university placed 11th out of the ranked institutions in the “Best Regional Colleges of the West” category (up four places from 2015) and eighth among the regional colleges of the west in the “Best Colleges for Veterans” category.

Institutions are ranked in all categories within four geographic regions: North, South, Midwest and West. Universities and colleges in Texas and Oklahoma compete in the West region, which is the largest geographic section, encompassing the entire Western U.S.

According to the publication, U.S. News determines its “Great Schools, Great Prices” category by taking into account an institution’s academic quality based on its “Best Colleges” ranking and the 2014-2015 net cost of attendance for a student who received the average level of need-based financial aid.

“The higher the quality of the program and the lower the cost, the better the deal,” the publication stated.

U.S. News determines the “Best Colleges for Veterans” by examining institutions in the 2016 “Best Colleges” rankings which participate in federal initiatives that make pursuing a college degree more affordable for veterans and active service members.

Dr. Bill Ellis, HPU president, said he is proud of the work faculty and staff perform to serve the university’s students.

“We’re honored that the ‘Best Colleges’ publication has once again chosen to recognize HPU for the value, academic rigor and educational benefits we provide our students,” he said.

Prospective students and their families may schedule a campus visit at or by calling (325) 649-8020.


Photo cutline: HPU advanced in two categories in the 2016 edition of “Best Colleges” by U.S. News & World Report. Pictured is the university’s distinctive Old Main Tower.

Dr. Daresa Voss named interim dean of HPU’s School of Education

Daresa Voss for webBROWNWOOD – September 8, 2015 – Dr. Daresa Voss, professor of education at Howard Payne University, was recently named interim dean of the university’s School of Education.

Dr. Voss joined HPU’s faculty in 2003 following 14 years of service elsewhere in Christian higher education at Wayland Baptist University and William Jewell College. She holds Master of Education and Doctor of Education degrees from Texas Tech University.

With numerous publications and presentations to her credit, Dr. Voss also is certified in Bilingual Elementary Certification, Elementary Teacher Certification and Kindergarten Endorsement.

Dr. Voss earned the Excellence in Teaching Award at HPU in 2009 and was named the Outstanding Faculty Member of the Year for the 2010-2011 academic year.

“I am looking forward to Dr. Voss joining the efforts of the Deans Council and anticipate her rendering exceptional leadership,” said Dr. W. Mark Tew, provost and chief academic officer.


Photo cutline: Dr. Daresa Voss, professor of education at HPU, was recently named interim dean of the university’s School of Education.