News Archives

HPU’s New Braunfels Center surpasses fundraising goal during 24-hour giving event

the big give student message for webBROWNWOOD – May 6, 2015 – Howard Payne University’s New Braunfels Center took part in yesterday’s The Big Give S.A., a 24-hour fundraising event, exceeding its goal of $10,000 during the first 9 hours of the event. By midnight, 36 people had made gifts to the university totaling $14,505.

Included in the total is a gift from an anonymous donor who agreed to match up to $5,000.

“We’re tremendously grateful to the many alumni, community members and friends of the university who helped us surpass our goal,” said Dr. Dale Meinecke, assistant vice president for external affairs. “We’re blessed to be a part of the New Braunfels community and the funds raised will go toward our efforts of creating our permanent university home in the area.”

HPU has maintained a presence in New Braunfels since 2012, and now offers degrees for undergraduate and graduate students as well as coursework for dual-credit students. The university, with its flagship campus located in Brownwood, is planning a permanent campus in New Braunfels as part of the Veramendi development project.

HPU is now enrolling for the fall 2015 semester. To learn more about becoming at student at HPU’s New Braunfels Center, visit, call (830) 629-2366 or e-mail


Photo cutline: During yesterday’s giving event, HPU New Braunfels students were asked to write messages encouraging donations.

HPU student’s “non-traditional” approach leads to degree after 17 years

mike bannister and lester towell for webBROWNWOOD – May 6, 2015 – The path to a college degree varies a bit for every student, but for Howard Payne University senior Mike Bannister, the journey was almost 17 years in the making.

The 56-year-old Brownwood native will receive his Bachelor of Science degree in computer information systems this May after first setting foot on the HPU campus as a student in 1999.

“I tell everyone I have tenure,” he says, laughing. “I’ve made a career out of being a student. Some semesters I took a single class. The largest course load I’ve taken in a semester is 10 hours.”

He also took several breaks from classes due to a busy work schedule, including 15 months when he lived in Singapore. Bannister says his employer of 30 years, 3M in Brownwood, has been very supportive throughout his academic career.

“My managers gave me a lot of flexibility in my schedule,” he says. “I’m really thankful for the support they’ve given me.”

As a product development engineer with 3M, staying current with technological trends is crucial for Bannister as he works with lab teams to bring new products to market. His HPU coursework has proven to be a solid foundation upon which to build his expertise in his field.

“The technology has changed since I first started at HPU in 1999, but I am able to take what I learned then and continue to adapt my knowledge and skills,” says Bannister.

He has seen many classes of students graduate since he arrived on campus and has even been able to mentor some students in their own paths.

“I tell them to treat college seriously and concentrate as they go after their own degrees,” he says. “I try to encourage them because I know the hurdles they are facing.”

Bannister did not have a single college hour when he began at HPU.

“I was intimidated and nervous,” he says. “I had to relearn study skills, but I ended up being a lot better college student than I was a high school student.”

Cheryl Mangrum, associate director of admission, processed Bannister’s applications for readmission throughout the years. She works with many non-traditional students which include, but are not limited to, current and retired military personnel, working parents, husbands and wives, and single students over the age of 21 with no previous college experience.

“I was also a non-traditional student at HPU and can most certainly relate to Mike’s 17-year academic career,” she says. “I was on an extended degree plan of 11 years while working as a full-time university employee. I appreciate so much his dedication and perseverance.”

Mangrum says HPU’s faculty, staff and student body are very supportive of non-traditional students.

“They appreciate and embrace the fact that these students bring to the classroom maturity and life experience, which greatly enrich the educational experience both inside and outside the classroom,” she says. “The journey toward a bachelor’s degree may take longer for some non-traditional students, but the destination is worth the journey and the journey is worth the destination. The educational experiences and the relationships forged along the way are priceless and are lifetime investments.”

At the Academic Awards Convocation held at the end of April, Bannister was named the Outstanding Student in Computer Information Systems and Outstanding Non-Traditional Student for the 2014-2015 academic year. He was also inducted into HPU’s chapter of the Sigma Beta Delta International Business Honor Society. Dr. Lester Towell, chair of the Department of Computer Information Systems and CIS professor, says Bannister is a “model student.”

“He asks questions, attends every class and completes all projects on time,” Dr. Towell says. “Mike exemplifies the desire for an education over a grade. I could not ask for a better student or example.”

Now that his academic days are drawing to a close, Bannister is excited about the opportunity to continue furthering his career while spending more time with his wife and family. As a member of the first generation in his immediate family to complete requirements for a college degree, Bannister is proud of his accomplishment and thankful for the opportunity to attend HPU. He offers advice to others who may be considering an unconventional approach to higher education.

“No matter how scared or nervous you are, at least give it a try,” he says. “Take a class and see how you do. The ‘A’ grades I received were encouraging and gave me the fuel to go on to each new semester.”

For more information about becoming a student at Howard Payne University, contact HPU’s Office of Admission at (325) 649-8020 or via e-mail at

HPU faculty and staff members honored for service to the university

Outstanding Staff Member Bobbie Price for webBROWNWOOD – May 4, 2015 – Members of Howard Payne University’s faculty and staff were recently honored at an annual personnel recognition luncheon held on the HPU campus. Bobbie Price, certification coordinator and graduation assistant, was named the Outstanding Staff Member while Dr. Bill Fowler, associate professor of Christian studies, was presented the Outstanding Faculty Member award.

The outstanding faculty and staff member awards are made possible by Porter Insurance Agency and Underwood’s Cafeteria, respectively.

Certificates recognizing excellence in teaching were presented to Dr. Danny Brunette-Lopez, associate professor of Spanish and chair of the Department of Modern Languages, and Kathy Hagood, associate professor of English.

Certificates recognizing excellence in service were presented to staff members Rebecca Mainka, mail room and copy center clerk, and Matt Zinser, assistant men’s basketball coach.

Outstanding Faculty Member Bill Fowler for webSpecial plaques commemorating retirement were given to Dr. Mitzi Lehrer, associate professor of education; Dr. Lois Patton, professor of business administration and director of the MBA graduate program; Dr. Les Plagens, dean of the School of Business and professor of business administration; Dr. Allen Reed, professor of music; and Bobbie Jo Stewart, circulation services and music library supervisor.

Also receiving awards were:

Five years of service – Dr. Jennifer Clement, assistant professor of psychology; Laura Coulter, assistant professor and academic services coordinator, tutoring and QEP; Deanna Erxleben, instructor of music; Jill Holamon, administrative assistant for the School of Music and Fine Arts; Lauren Kirk, instructor of education; Gene Kirkpatrick, head athletic trainer; Dr. Joe Robinson, professor of education and director of the instructional leadership graduate program; and Dr. Kenneth Word, professor of mathematics and chair of the Department of Mathematics.

Ten years of service – Corey Ash, associate professor of music and director of bands; Karalee Byrnes, loan coordinator; Dr. Brett Coulter, associate professor of math and director of engineering science; Deborah Dill, administrative assistant for the School of Science and Mathematics; Roger Geise, head football coach; Jodi Goode, assistant vice president for information technology services; Rebecca Mainka, mail room and copy center clerk; Dr. Keith Mask, professor of psychology and chair of the Department of Psychology and Family Studies; Joyce Myers, grants/scholarships coordinator; and Dr. Rusty Wheelington, associate professor of Christian studies.

Fifteen years of service – Mary Griffin, serials coordinator and cataloging assistant; Kathy James, special events coordinator and administrative assistant; Tracy Stansberry, public safety office/sergeant #1; and Patricia Valencia, custodian.

Twenty years of service – Wendy Grooms, associate professor of math; John Nickols, assistant professor of government and history; and Bertha Valle, office manager for HPU’s El Paso Center.

Twenty-five years of service – Brenda Brittain, executive assistant to the provost; Dr. Gerry Clarkson, associate professor of physical science and chair of the Department of Physical Sciences; and Dr. Gary Gramling, professor of Christian studies and director of the graduate program in youth ministry.

Thirty years of service – Mary Dunham, assistant professor of library science and technical services librarian.

Thirty-five years of service – Dr. Robert Mangrum, university historian and professor of government and history.


Photo cutlines:

Bobbie Price, center, received the Outstanding Staff Member Award for the 2014-2015 academic year at HPU. She is pictured with Dr. Bill Ellis, HPU president, left, and Robert Porter, right. The award is made possible by Porter Insurance Agency.

Dr. Bill Fowler, center, was presented the Outstanding Faculty Member Award for the 2014-2015 academic year at HPU. He is pictured with Dr. Bill Ellis, left, and Jill Underwood, right. The award is made possible by Underwood’s Cafeteria.

HPU’s Academy celebrates anniversary with former FOX News correspondent Jim Angle

Jim Angle in Mims for webBROWNWOOD – May 4, 2015 – Howard Payne University’s Guy D. Newman Honors Academy: The Program for Civic Leadership and Public Policy recently celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of its first graduating class with a ceremony featuring special guest speaker Jim Angle, former chief national correspondent for FOX News Channel.

Angle spoke on the topic “A Look at Wacky Washington and Those Who Want to Lead It.” Prior to his lecture were musical performances by Dr. Diana Ellis, HPU first lady; TaShana Hooker, a sophomore from Carrollton; and Hannah Strebeck, a senior from Royse City.

Following the lecture, a VIP dinner was hosted in the Bullion Suites of HPU’s Mabee University Center. Guest speakers during the dinner included Academy graduates Dr. Edward Daniel ’66, Mack DuBose ’65, Guy Ben Garner III ’74 and Tristan Summers ’09. DuBose was the first to receive a degree from the prestigious Academy and Garner is the grandson of Dr. Guy D. Newman, the program’s founder.

Other speakers included Dr. Bill Ellis, HPU president; Dr. Justin D. Murphy, the Academy’s current director, Brand professor of history and dean of the School of Humanities; Dr. Matthew McNiece ’03, chair and associate professor of history and political science; and current students Katie Rose Bonner, a senior from Lytle, and Caitlin Wood, a junior from Miles.

Dr. Murphy and Dr. McNiece presented gifts to Angle and DuBose. At the end of the dinner, Dr. Murphy was also recognized for his involvement with the program since he began teaching at HPU and the Academy in 1991.

“It was humbling to be honored in this way and I’m proud to be associated with the program as well as its graduates and current students,” said Dr. Murphy.


Photo cutline: HPU’s Guy D. Newman Honors Academy recently hosted Jim Angle, former chief national correspondent for FOX News Channel, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the program’s first graduate.

HPU’s New Braunfels Center to take part in 24-hour online giving event

undergrad class nb for webBROWNWOOD – May 1, 2015 – Howard Payne University’s New Braunfels Center is a participating organization in this year’s The Big Give S.A., a 24-hour online giving event that will begin at midnight on May 5. The Big Give S.A. is designed to introduce supporters to non-profit organizations located in South Central Texas.

“We’re very grateful for the opportunity to participate in The Big Give,” said Dr. Dale Meinecke, assistant vice president for external affairs. “The funds raised will assist us in our ongoing commitment to providing quality, affordable and Christ-centered higher education in the New Braunfels community.”

An anonymous donor has agreed to match the funds raised up to $5,000.

“We’re so thankful for this donor’s generosity,” said Dr. Meinecke. “We’re hoping for other alumni and friends to give generously, whether that’s $1,000 or $10. Any gift of any size will help us reach our goal.”

HPU, based in Brownwood for 125 years, began offering classes in New Braunfels in 2012 and has continued to grow each semester. The center offers degrees for undergraduate and graduate students as well as coursework for dual-credit students. The university is planning a permanent campus in New Braunfels as part of the Veramendi development project.

HPU’s donation page will be live from midnight to 11:59 p.m. on May 5 at If you’re interested in supporting HPU’s New Braunfels Center but unable to give on May 5, please contact HPU’s Office of Institutional Advancement at (325) 649-8006 or

To learn more about HPU’s New Braunfels Center, visit or call (830) 629-2366.


Photo cutline: Howard Payne University has been a part of the New Braunfels community since 2012. Those interested will have an opportunity to support HPU during a 24-hour online giving event on May 5. Pictured in the foreground are HPU New Braunfels students Cristofer Amundson, sophomore, and Ali Brooks, freshman.

HPU’s library to host book sale this Friday and Saturday

book sale reminder for webBROWNWOOD – April 30, 2015 – Howard Payne University’s Walker Memorial Library will host a book sale this Friday, May 1, through Saturday, May 2. Public hours are 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.

The sale is hosted by the Friends of the Walker Memorial Library and approximately 4,500 items are available for purchase, including best sellers, atlases and books on theology, art, history and more.

Prices range from 50 cents to $2 and funds raised will go toward library modernization efforts.

Alexia Riggs, HPU’s dean of libraries, said the items include duplicate titles and books the library doesn’t traditionally carry in the academic collection.

“With so many books available for purchase, there’s bound to be something for almost everyone,” she said.

For more information, contact HPU’s Walker Memorial Library at (325) 649-8602 or


Photo cutline: More than 4,500 books will be available for purchase at HPU’s Walker Memorial Library this Friday and Saturday. Pictured is HPU junior Heather Hildebrand. Photo by Emily Peisker, HPU junior.

HPU Model United Nations team brings home several awards from Münster conference

Munster Spring 2015 for webBy Emily Peisker, HPU junior

BROWNWOOD – April 27, 2015 – HPU’s Model United Nations team excelled at the Münster University International Model United Nations conference held in Münster, Germany, bringing home six awards from various committees. The Münster conference is the largest MUN conference in Germany, with students traveling from across Europe and as far away as Indonesia, Pakistan, China and Japan to participate.

“This was the first Model UN Conference in which our students were by themselves as single-member delegations, rather than two-member delegations,” said Dr. Justin D. Murphy, HPU’s Brand professor of history, dean of the School of Humanities and director of the Guy D. Newman Honors Academy. “This made for a much more challenging conference, especially since seven of our sixteen members were in MUN for the first time. Yet one of the conference leaders told me afterward that our students were the best-prepared team as a whole than any other university.”

This semester’s MUN team included head delegate Cara DeLoach, a senior from San Angelo; co-head delegate Mike McConnell, a junior from Burleson; Jason Murphy, a senior from Brownwood; Jimmy Abbatiello, a sophomore from Kerrville; Cody Perrin, a junior from Eastland; Nicole Nehf, a senior from May; Katie Rose Bonner, a senior from Lytle; Sydney Spencer, a junior from Georgetown; Gavin Stewart, a junior from Flower Mound; Sydnee Petty, a junior from Brownwood; Sam Hoffman, a junior from Corpus Christi; Emily Peisker, a junior from Cedar Park; Jessi Jordan, a senior from Spurger; Rachel White, a freshman from Arkadelphia, Ark.; Maggie Van Nes, a freshman from Keller; and Danielle Parkhurst, a junior from Alleyton. These HPU students represented the countries of China, Russia, the United Kingdom, France and Germany on their councils.

On the Security Council, DeLoach received the outstanding delegate award for her representation of China, while on the United Nations Office of Drug and Crime Council, Abbatiello, also representing China, received the outstanding delegate award. Bonner took the outstanding delegate and best position paper awards for the International Court of Justice Committee. Stewart secured the outstanding delegate award for the Economic and Financial Committee, with Perrin taking the honorable mention award for the Special Political and Decolonization Committee.

After the conference, the team took a trip to Berlin to visit museums and see the remnants of the Berlin Wall. The day included seeing historical landmarks like the famous Checkpoint Charlie museum, the Topography of Terror museum, the Holocaust memorial, the Führerbunker and the Brandenburg Gate.

“It was such a moving and impactful experience to visit places where such great and horrible historical events occurred,” said Jimmy Abbatiello. “In Berlin we did more than visit tourist sites, we witnessed the aftermath of tragedy and the rebuilding of a bright future for the German people.”

With many new friends from all over the world and great experiences with collaboration and diplomacy, the HPU team looks forward to future conferences and more opportunities to prepare for the future through the learning experiences that come with Model United Nations.


Photo cutline: HPU’s Model United Nations team recently brought home several awards from a conference in Münster, Germany. Left to right: Sam Hoffman, Mike McConnell, Nicole Nehf, Gavin Stewart, Katie Rose Bonner, Danielle Parkhurst, Sydney Spencer, Emily Peisker, Sydnee Petty, Jessi Jordan, Cara DeLoach, Maggie Van Nes, Rachel White, Jimmy Abbatiello, Jason Murphy and Cody Perrin.

HPU to celebrate armed forces with 20th annual American Music Spectacular

BROWNWOOD – April 24, 2015 – Howard Payne University’s Department of Music will present the 20th annual American Music Spectacular on Thursday, April 30, at 7:30 p.m. at HPU’s Mims Auditorium. There is no charge for admission; however, donations will be collected on behalf of the Wounded Warrior Project, a national charity that offers resources and support for injured service members.

“This evening of Americana has become a true tradition within the Central Texas area,” said Corey Ash, associate professor of music and director of bands.

The band will perform music from composers who have helped to shape the American musical landscape. The selections include “The Stars and Stripes Forever,” “American Overture,” “The Fire of Eternal Glory” and many more.

“We will celebrate the American spirit and those who have fought and struggled to help win our freedom and democracy,” said Ash.

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.

“We will have many special guests from our armed services as well as leadership from many of the area’s first-responder organizations,” he said. “We will recognize these men and women who serve us on a daily basis.”

A reception will follow the concert.

“You won’t want to miss this amazing night of music celebrating America and her heroes,” said Ash.

HPU’s Concert Choir announces final performances of spring semester

BROWNWOOD – April 23, 2015 – Howard Payne University’s Concert Choir will complete the spring 2015 semester with performances in Brownwood and Fort Worth.

The Concert Choir will be joined at HPU’s Mims Auditorium on Saturday, April 25, by Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Master Chorale for a performance of Johannes Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem (A German Requiem), which will be sung in English. Southwestern’s Master Chorale is conducted by Dr. John Simons. The performance, which begins at 7:30 p.m., will be conducted by Dr. Monte Garrett, HPU professor of music and director of choral activities.

The following Tuesday, April 28, the Concert Choir will travel to Fort Worth to join the Master Chorale in an additional performance of Requiem with the Fort Worth Symphony. The concert will be held at Southwestern’s Truett Auditorium and begins at 7:30 p.m.

“Our choir has had a terrific semester of performances and we’re honored to end our season by joining the Master Chorale and the Fort Worth Symphony,” said Dr. Garrett.

Both events are free and open to the public. For more information, contact HPU’s School of Music and Fine Arts at (325) 649-8500.

Saturday deadline to register for HPU’s George “Pat” Bell Memorial Golf Tournament

BROWNWOOD – April 23, 2015 – Howard Payne University’s athletic department will host the George “Pat” Bell Memorial Golf Tournament on Saturday, May 2, with check-in beginning at 8 a.m. Interested players must register their teams by Saturday, April 25.

The event, a four-man scramble, will be held at the Brownwood Country Club with a shotgun start at 9 a.m. Cost is $400 per team and prizes will be given for longest drive and closest to pin. Additional prizes will be given to members of the first-place team and a drawing will take place among remaining teams for second- and third-place prizes. All participants will receive a complimentary gift.

The university recently renamed the annual tournament in memory of George “Pat” Bell, former HPU golf coach.

Bell was the Howard Payne women’s and men’s golf coach from 1997 to 2001. During his time at the helm of the HPU golf program, he coached HPU Sports Hall of Fame golfer Tim Pavlas, who won American Southwest Conference men’s individual championships in 1999 and 2000.

Even after Bell stepped down as head coach of the Yellow Jacket program in 2001, he continued to be an advocate for HPU. Bell passed away in February 2015 at the age of 87.

This is the third year of the tournament and the first year it will be hosted by the Brownwood Country Club.

Teams may register online at and pay online or by check. Make checks payable to Howard Payne Athletics and mail to HPU Athletics – Golf Tournament, 1000 Fisk St., Brownwood, TX 76801. Checks may also be delivered to HPU’s Mamie D. McCullough Athletic Center at 1310 Hawkins Street in Brownwood.