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Dr. Cynthia Clawson to perform free concert for HPU Steinway campaign Sunday, May 18


Cynthia Clawson Pianos for Praise for webBROWNWOOD – May 9, 2014 –For Dr. Cynthia Clawson, 1970 Howard Payne University graduate and Grammy award-winning vocalist, returning to Brownwood feels like coming home.

“And in this day and time, everyone is looking for ‘home,’” she said.

The Houston native will return to Brownwood on Sunday, May 18, to perform a free concert at First United Methodist Church celebrating HPU’s initiative to become an All-Steinway School.

The campaign will ensure that every piano on the HPU campus – from the rehearsal halls to the performance stages – is designed by the prestigious Steinway & Sons Company. Dr. Clawson is a passionate supporter of this goal.

“There are only about 165 institutions in the world that are All-Steinway Schools,” she said. “Having this distinction would prove to the world that HPU believes in its students and supports the arts. It would be a life-changer for HPU.”

Dr. Clawson received a vocal performance scholarship to attend the university and was a member of the A Capella Choir and the Oratorio Chorus. She was also an original member of the HPU Heritage Singers.

“There were several rehearsal halls on campus,” she recalled. “But if no one was in Mims Auditorium, you could practice on stage with the Steinway piano. It made all of the difference in the world.”

She went on to have an award-winning career. In addition to her Grammy Award in 1981 for Gospel Album of the Year, Dr. Clawson has been honored with five Dove awards and numerous Dove nominations. Her rendition of “Softly and Tenderly” was featured in the 1985 Oscar-winning motion picture “The Trip to Bountiful.” She is also a member of the Texas Gospel Music Hall of Fame.

Her career highlight, however, is hearing that her music has moved someone to tears.

“If people tell me I made them cry, I say ‘Oh, good.’” she said. “That means the music moved past their ears and down to their souls. That’s not about me. It’s from God.”

She has remained a dedicated HPU alumna, returning to the university numerous times to graciously share her gifts with the HPU family. She was chosen as HPU’s Distinguished Alumna in 1989, the Homecoming Grand Marshal in 1998 and in 2013 received the Yellow Rose Award from the HPU Woman’s Club. In 2007, she received an honorary doctorate from HPU, the university’s highest honor.

She and her husband, author and playwright Ragan Courtney, live in Houston. They have two adult children, Will and Lily.

An ardent supporter of the arts, Dr. Clawson described her experiences visiting the Steinway & Sons factory in New York City.

“I cried all the way through because the people who work there care so much,” she said. “Each person is crafting one little piece of a piano but they come together to create a masterpiece. The sound produced by of one of those pianos might change someone’s life.”

According to Dr. Clawson, she is looking forward to the concert on May 18 to see all of her friends in the area and to perform once again with her good friend Marvin Gaspard, a Steinway artist, who will accompany her on piano. She is especially looking forward to helping emphasize the importance of the All-Steinway School campaign.

“HPU has always been set apart for being such a caring campus,” she said. “But this will distinguish us even more. Prospective students, if they’re musicians, will know exactly what they can expect from HPU – a university that believes in them and believes that artists can change the world.”

The concert, “Pianos for Praise,” will be held at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 18, at First United Methodist Church of Brownwood. There is no charge for admission, but campaign donations are appreciated. For more information, contact (325) 649-8128 or


Photo cutline: Dr. Cynthia Clawson will perform in concert on Sunday, May 18, at 2 p.m. at First United Methodist Church of Brownwood.

HPU honors faculty and staff for service to the university

outstanding staff member spring 2014 for webBROWNWOOD – May 9, 2014 – Members of Howard Payne University’s faculty and staff were recently honored at an annual personnel recognition luncheon held on the HPU campus. Marcie Drew, university controller, was named Outstanding Staff Member and Dr. Mark Patton, professor of business administration, was posthumously presented the Outstanding Faculty Member Award. Dr. Lois Patton, professor of business administration and director of the Master of Business Administration program, accepted the award on his behalf.

The outstanding faculty and staff member awards are made possible by Paul and Leo Underwood, owners of Underwood’s Bar-B-Q and the Porter family of Porter Insurance, respectively.

Certificates recognizing excellence in teaching were presented to Dr. Wendy McNeeley, dean of advising and general education, and Dr. Lester Towell, associate professor of computer information systems and chair of the department of computer information systems.

outstanding faculty member spring 2014 for webCertificates recognizing excellence in service were presented to Roger Dewell, maintenance supervisor, and Jill Holamon, administrative assistant for the School of Music and Fine Arts.

Special plaques commemorating retirement were given to Nancy Anderson, dean of libraries and professor of library science, and Ann Smith, professor of art.

Also receiving awards were:

Five years of service – Kenan Boland, J.D., adjunct instructor of English; Dr. Bill Ellis, HPU president; David Foster, assistant softball coach; Diane Hackney, facilities department coordinator; Kevin Kirk, associate vice president for enrollment management; Dr. Stephen Kovach, assistant professor of Christian studies and criminal justice at HPU’s El Paso Center; Dr. Gerald Maxwell, adjunct instructor of Chemistry; Jennifer McNiece, assistant professor of political science and director of international studies and academic travel; Dr. Lois Patton, professor of business administration and director of the Master of Business Administration program; Esperanza Sanchez, part-time custodian; Hunter Sims, assistant head football coach and offensive coordinator; Jamie Skaggs, part-time university nurse; Natalie Stary, admission counselor; and Matt Zinser, assistant men’s basketball coach.

Ten years of service – Deborah Childs, director of university events; Dr. Celeste Church, associate professor of music; Dr. Gregory Church, associate professor of music; Russell Ezzell, network administrator; Katrina Lynn, business and human resources coordinator; Stephen Lynn, head baseball coach; Dr. Brent Marsh, vice president for student life and dean of students; and Dr. Rodney Stephens, associate professor of English.

Fifteen years of service – Teresa Cavitt, adjunct instructor of exercise and sport science; Abram Choate, assistant director of athletics for sports information and game administration; Dr. Trissa Cox, associate professor of computer information systems; Jerry Don Gleaton, assistant baseball coach; Stephen Goacher, professor of music; Dr. Marilyn Mathis, associate professor of biology.

Twenty years of service – Lynn Humeniuk, associate professor of sociology; Dr. Wendy McNeeley, dean of advising and general education; Diane Owens, part-time director of the pre-college music program; and Juanita Sypert, government document/interlibrary loan coordinator.

Twenty-five years of service – Dr. Bob Bicknell, accreditation liaison to the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools; Mike Daub, CPA, associate professor of accounting; and Don Gunter, general maintenance.

Forty years of service – Lana Wagner, registrar.


Photo cutlines: Marcie Drew, center, received the Outstanding Staff Member Award for the 2013-2014 academic year at HPU. She is pictured with Robert Porter, left, and Dr. Bill Ellis, university president, right. The award is made possible by the Porter family of Porter Insurance.

Dr. Mark Patton was posthumously presented the Outstanding Faculty Member Award for the 2013-2014 academic year at HPU. His wife, Dr. Lois Patton, accepted the award on his behalf. Left to right: Paul Underwood, Jill Underwood, Dr. Lois Patton, Dr. Bill Ellis and Dr. Les Plagens. The award is made possible by Paul and Leo Underwood, owners of Underwood’s Bar-B-Q.

HPU to hold spring Commencement Saturday

BROWNWOOD – May 8, 2014 – Howard Payne University will graduate 155 students during the spring Commencement ceremony this Saturday, May 10, beginning at 10 a.m. at the Brownwood Coliseum.

Dr. Bill Ellis, university president, and other university representatives will confer the undergraduate and graduate degrees, as well as the Honorary Doctor of Letters degree to Dr. Carol L. McDonald. Dr. Ellis will deliver the charge to the graduates.

Additional program participants include: Corey Ash ’92, associate professor of music and director of bands; Dr. Donnie Auvenshine ’75, dean of the School of Christian Studies and professor of Christian studies; Robert Carter ’73, chairman of the HPU Board of Trustees; Dr. Gary Gramling ’81, director of the graduate program in youth ministry and professor of Christian studies; Dr. Justin D. Murphy, dean of the School of Humanities, professor of history and director of the Guy D. Newman Honors Academy; Dr. Lois Patton, director of the graduate program in business administration and professor of business administration; Dr. Leslie Plagens, dean of the School of Business and professor of business administration; Pastor Steve Polaski ’81, associate pastor of Victory Life Church in Brownwood; Debbie Prude ’78, president of the HPU Alumni Association; Dr. Joe Robinson, director of the instructional leadership graduate program and associate professor of education; Dr. Michael Rosato, dean of the School of Education and professor of education; Dr. Jay T. Smith ’96, lead pastor at First Baptist Church in Bozeman, Mont.; Dr. W. Mark Tew, provost; Zachary James Tharp, candidate for graduation; Lana Wagner ’97, registrar; Dr. Julie Welker ’94, faculty president, professor of communication and chair of the Department of Communication Studies; and the HPU Instrumental Ensemble.

The Commencement ceremony will be preceded on Friday, May 9, by Chime Out, an HPU tradition in which graduating seniors pass a chain of ivy to underclassmen, symbolizing the passing of authority, responsibility and privileges to those students who remain on campus to carry on the traditions of the university. Chime Out begins at 6 p.m. at the university’s J. Howard Hodge Memorial Bell Towers.


Dr. Mamie McCullough receives HPU Yellow Rose Award

Yellow Rose Award 2014 for webBROWNWOOD – May 7, 2014 – Dr. Mamie McCullough, Howard Payne University alumna and native of Dixie, Ga., was recently presented the 2014 HPU Woman’s Club Yellow Rose Award. The honor was announced at the Yellow Rose Scholarship Luncheon, held each year on the HPU campus.

Dr. McCullough was the scheduled guest speaker for the event, unaware of the club’s plans to surprise her with the prestigious honor. Her family joined her as she accepted the award.

In addition to a career in education, Dr. McCullough served as a director for Mary Kay Cosmetics. She was named Ms. Go Give in 1976, one of the highest honors within the organization.

Dr. McCullough, who now resides in Dallas, was president of the education division for the Zig Ziglar Corporation from 1979 to 1989. In 1989, she formed her own company working as a speaker and author.

She has authored several books including “I Can. You Can Too!,” “I’m Not Waving … I’m Drowning” and “Get It Together And Remember Where You Put It.”

Dr. McCullough has served on HPU’s President’s Development Council and the Board of Trustees. In 1997, the university presented her with an Honorary Doctor of Letters.

“We were thrilled to present this honor to Mamie,” said Dr. Diana Ellis, HPU first lady and president of the Woman’s Club. “She is one of our HPU treasures, and she publicly promotes the university everywhere she goes! What a blessing to have such a lovely lady representing us to the world.”

The HPU Yellow Rose Award is presented annually to a woman who has exhibited exemplary leadership within her sphere of influence, who has exhibited fiscal, emotional or physical support to the ongoing of Howard Payne University and who represents Christian values and beliefs foundational to Howard Payne University.


Photo cutline: Dr. Mamie McCullough, right, received the 2014 HPU Woman’s Club Yellow Rose Award. She is pictured with Dr. Diana Ellis, HPU first lady and Woman’s Club president.

HPU scholarship creates new opportunities for Lampasas-area students

Emily Ramsey for webBROWNWOOD – May 1, 2014 – One of the most appealing aspects of Howard Payne University, according to freshman Emily Ramsey from Lampasas, is the sense of community.

“HPU is like a small town in itself,” she said. “It feels a lot like Lampasas. It’s a very personable school – everybody knows you and the teachers care about you and are focused on your success.”

Emily said she has no doubt God led her to HPU.

“I applied here and one other university,” she said. “I got a great scholarship to attend HPU, but none from the other university. It was an easy decision.”

She is one of many students receiving HPU’s Central Texas Scholarship, which awards $52,000 over four years to eligible applicants from Lampasas and the surrounding counties. Students such as Emily are finding they can attend a nationally recognized university not far from home.

“I’m only an hour away from Lampasas, but I still have the space I need away from home,” she said. “I know I can go home at any time and I also have friends and professors here who I can trust with anything.”

Emily is a business management major with a concentration in marketing/advertising and a minor in computer information systems. When not in class, she spends most of her hours at her on-campus job, Fambrough’s Eatery & Coffee Bar. She wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I’ve always been a worker,” she said. “I got my first job at 16, and I haven’t stopped working since.”

Her position allows her to interact with others on campus.

“Emily always seems to enjoy talking to students, faculty and staff while she prepares and serves their food,” said PJ Gramling, director of admission. “And we enjoy talking with her! She is a great addition to our campus.”

After graduation, Emily plans on having a career in advertising with a focus on web design. At HPU, she’s found the support she needs to help her achieve those goals.

“I can go to my professors at any time for any reason,” she said. “I love HPU. It is the perfect school for me.”

To learn more about HPU’s Central Texas Scholarship, call the Office of Admission at (325) 649-8020 or e-mail For more information about Howard Payne University, visit


Photo cutline: Emily Ramsey is one of many students receiving HPU’s Central Texas Scholarship, which awards $52,000 over four years to eligible applicants from Lampasas and the surrounding counties.

Five HPU personnel to be recognized during book-signing event

HPU authors for webBROWNWOOD – May 1, 2014 – Howard Payne University will host a book-signing event next Monday, May 5, to honor five faculty and staff members who have recently published books. The event will be held from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the Richard and Wanda Jackson Conference Room inside HPU’s Paul and Jane Meyer Faith and Life Leadership Center.

HPU authors recognized during the event will include Deborah Pierson Dill, administrative assistant for the School of Science and Mathematics; Dr. Derek Hatch, assistant professor of Christian studies; Dr. Melody Maxwell, assistant professor of Christian studies; John Nickols, assistant professor of history and political science and special assistant to the athletic director; and Dr. Daresa Voss, professor of education.

Set in Central Texas, “Perfect Shelter” is a contemporary Christian romance novel by Deborah Pierson Dill. Released in 2010, it is the first in a series of three novels published by Pelican Book Group. The other novels in the series are “Return to Me” and “Moving On.”

Dr. Derek Hatch co-edited “Gathering Together: Baptists at Work in Worship,” which was published in August 2013. The book features a collection of articles by pastors and educators examining how acts of worship help shape the Baptist faith.

“Torches in the Corridor: 125 Years of Tennessee Woman’s Missionary Union” is an expansion of a thesis  Dr. Melody Maxwell published as an undergraduate student at Union University in Jackson, Tenn. Published in April 2014, the book features historical profiles of leaders within Tennessee Woman’s Missionary Union.

John Nickols recently published “The Last Three Outs,” a baseball novel with Christian themes. The book features a bright pitching prospect whose baseball career is suddenly threatened by a shoulder injury. According to Nickols, the story loosely parallels the life of Joseph in the Old Testament.

“Gavriel and Giselle: Anilange” is a children’s book by Dr. Daresa Voss. Written in response to the 2013 Moore, Okla., tornado, the story is designed to bring comfort to children, parents, teachers and communities following any tragic event.

Dr. W. Mark Tew, HPU’s provost and chief academic officer, said he is pleased that through research and writing HPU faculty and staff members continue to learn and grow in their respective fields.

“These authors are terrific examples to our students by demonstrating that education is a lifelong endeavor,” he said.


Photo cutline: HPU will honor five faculty and staff members at a book-signing event on May 5. Left to right: Deborah Pierson Dill, John Nickols, Dr. Melody Maxwell, Dr. Daresa Voss and Dr. Derek Hatch.

HPU Jazz Ensemble receives superior rating at Temple Jazz Festival

HPU Jazz Awards April 2014 for webBROWNWOOD – May 1, 2014 – The Howard Payne University Jazz Ensemble was awarded the rating of “Superior” in a three-judge panel unanimous decision at the 24th Annual Temple Jazz Festival held at Temple College last month. Six from HPU were also awarded certificates as Outstanding Soloists at the festival.

The Outstanding Soloists were Ryan Contreras, freshman from Early, tenor saxophone; Joseph Dunlap, 2009 HPU alumnus and staff accompanist, piano; Angel Hernandez, freshman from Brownwood, drums; Juan Hernandez, senior from Brownwood, tenor saxophone; Bobby Martinez, freshman from Lampasas, bass; and Ethan Yeats, senior from Big Spring, trumpet.

Additional members of the Jazz Ensemble include Alex Atkinson, freshman from Haslet, baritone saxophone; Christopher Burnett, senior from Early, trumpet; Savon Caldwell, sophomore from Texas City, alto saxophone; Joshua Farquharson, junior from Iowa Park, alto saxophone; Micah Huebner, junior from Brazoria, bassoon; Megan Irwin, senior from Brownwood, trumpet; Kristin Musgrove, senior from Brownwood, trumpet; and Patrick Welsh, freshman from Frisco, bass clarinet.

The HPU Jazz Ensemble was awarded Outstanding College Band at the 2007 and 2008 Temple Jazz Festivals. In addition, the HPU Jazz Ensemble performed in the 2009 North Texas Jazz Festival and was awarded several prizes for Outstanding Soloists at that event.

The ensemble is directed by Stephen Goacher, professor of music.

“I am always interested in the way learning in the classrooms and rehearsal halls at HPU is shown valid and relevant on the world stage,” he said.


Photo cutline: The HPU Jazz Ensemble was awarded the rating of “Superior” at the 24th Annual Temple Jazz Festival. Back row: Micah Huebner, Kristin Musgrove, Joshua Farquharson, Savon Caldwell, Patrick Welsh, Christopher Burnett, Alex Atkinson and Megan Irwin. Front row, holding “Outstanding Soloist” certificates: Bobby Martinez, Juan Hernandez, Joseph Dunlap, Angel Hernandez, Ryan Contreras, Ethan Yeats and Steve Goacher, professor of music and director of the Jazz Ensemble.

Tyler January of Brownwood to present senior recital at HPU

BROWNWOOD – April 30, 2014 – Howard Payne University senior Tyler January, a music major from Brownwood, will present his senior voice recital on Friday, May 2, at 7:30 p.m. in the university’s Grace Chapel.

The public is welcome to attend the recital and there is no charge for admission. For more information, contact HPU’s School of Music and Fine Arts at (325) 649-8500.

HPU’s Department of Exercise and Sport Science recognizes four

ESS.StudentAwards2013-14Four graduating seniors claimed the department’s top awards during the university’s Academic Awards Convocation on April 30, 2014. Amber Jones (Houston, TX) was named the Outstanding Graduate in the Athletic Training major, Hannah Hicks (Flower Mound, TX) and Mallory Orms (Springtown, TX) were named Outstanding Graduates in the Exercise and Sport Science major, and Rachel Moore (Sierra Blanco, TX) was recognized for maintaining the Highest GPA among 2013-14 seniors.

(L > R: Jones, Hicks, Moore, and Orms)

HPU to host Steinway & Sons president Thursday following American Music Spectacular

Ron Losby for webBROWNWOOD – April 28, 2014 – Howard Payne University will host special guest Ron Losby, president of Steinway & Sons – Americas in New York City, thisThursday, May 1. Losby will preside over a ribbon cutting ceremony to kick off HPU’s campaign to become an All-Steinway School. The ceremony will follow the 19th annual American Music Spectacular presented by HPU’s Symphonic Band. The evening’s events begin at 7:30 p.m. in the university’s Mims Auditorium and are free and open to the public. A meet-and-greet reception with Losby will follow in Grace Chapel.

Steinway & Sons, founded in 1853 by German immigrant Henry Engelhard Steinway, is dedicated to the ideal of making the finest pianos in the world. Losby has served as president of Steinway & Sons for the Americas since 2008. He is an accomplished pianist and has studied at both the San Francisco Conservatory and The Juilliard School in New York City.

“We’re delighted to have Mr. Losby on campus this week as we celebrate our decision to become an All-Steinway School,” said Dr. Bill Ellis, university president. “Steinway pianos are the best keyboard instruments we can offer our student and faculty musicians as well as all of the musical guests we host on campus. Becoming an All-Steinway School will also benefit our university in recruiting students and faculty in the fine arts.”

The American Music Spectacular is an evening of Americana that has become a tradition within the Central Texas area, said Corey Ash, associate professor of music and director of bands.

wallace steinway for web“We will celebrate the American spirit and those who have fought and struggled to help win our freedom and democracy,” he said.

Song selections include “American Civil War Fantasy,” “America the Beautiful,” “At a Dixieland Jazz Funeral” and more.

“The band will also perform a special piece titled ‘Armed Forces Salute’ during which the men and women of our armed forces will be honored,” said Ash. “You won’t want to miss this amazing night of music celebrating America!”

For more information about the concert, contact HPU’s School of Music and Fine Arts at (325) 649-8500. More information about the university’s Steinway campaign can be obtained by calling the Office of Institutional Advancement at (325) 649-8006.


Photo cutlines: Dr. Elizabeth Wallace, professor of music, performs on a Steinway piano during a recent campus event. HPU has begun the process of becoming an All-Steinway School.

HPU will host Ron Losby, president of Steinway & Sons, on campus this Thursday.