News Archives

HPU Yellow Rose Award presented to Debra Wilson

Wilson and Ellis Yellow Rose Award for webBROWNWOOD – May 8, 2015 – Howard Payne University’s Woman’s Club recently honored Debra Wilson, a resident of Brownwood and Houston, with the prestigious 2015 Yellow Rose Award. The 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 the university and who represents Christian values and beliefs foundational to HPU.

Wilson has spent countless hours volunteering on campus and providing friendship and mentorship to students. A native Texan, Wilson attended North Texas State University. She later met and married her husband of almost 50 years, Dr. Walter C. “Dub” Wilson, a 1965 HPU graduate and member of HPU’s Board of Trustees.

The Wilsons are active members of Houston’s First Baptist Church and involved in a number of volunteer activities. The couple additionally impacts the lives of HPU students through a scholarship endowment established in 2001 and by spending many hours promoting HPU’s fundraising efforts. They have two adult children, Scott and Aimee, and five grandchildren – Mackenzie, Grayson, Caroline, Abby and Ethan.

“Deb Wilson has been a personal blessing in my life and a blessing to many HPU students, faculty and staff members,” said Dr. Diana Ellis, the university’s first lady and president of the HPU Woman’s Club. “Her greatest ministry is encouragement, a gift she freely shares with others. She is so deserving of this award and I was honored to present it to her.”


Photo cutline: Debra Wilson, left, was recently presented with the HPU Woman’s Club Yellow Rose Award. She is pictured with Dr. Diana Ellis, HPU’s first lady and club president.

HPU concert raises more than $700 for Wounded Warrior Project

American Music Spectacular for webBROWNWOOD – May 8, 2015 – Howard Payne University recently hosted the 20th Annual American Music Spectacular, a musical tribute to the United States, its armed forces and the many who serve as first responders in our communities. In lieu of ticket sales, HPU’s Department of Music accepted donations on behalf of the Wounded Warrior Project. More than $700 was raised for the national charity, an organization that offers resources and support for injured service members.

During the concert, the band performed a special piece titled “Armed Forces Salute,” honoring the men and women of our armed forces.

“I was really pleased we were able to contribute to the Wounded Warrior Project and we were honored to recognize the men and women who serve us on a daily basis,” said Corey Ash, associate professor of music and director of bands.


Photo cutline: Band and audience members watch as the Color Guard posts the American and Texan flags prior to the 20th Annual American Music Spectacular. Photo by Kevin Holamon ’14.

Summer Scholars and Young Scholars day camps to focus on energy conservation

By Emily Peisker, HPU Junior

BROWNWOOD – May 8, 2015 – Howard Payne University’s annual Summer Scholars and Young Scholars program for students entering first through sixth grades will take place July 13 through 17 from 9 a.m. to noon each day. This year’s theme is “Energy Wars,” with a focus on energy conservation, including light bulbs, wind, electricity, oil, gas and water.

Energy Wars logo for webSummer Scholars, for students entering fourth through sixth grades, will have classes in robotics, 3-D printing, science and physical education. For students entering first through third grades, Young Scholars will have classes in robotics, science, music and physical education.

Cost is $100 per child and includes tuition, supplies, a daily snack and a t-shirt. Parents may register and pay online through July 6 at All classes will take place at HPU’s Newman Hall located at the corner of Coggin and Austin Avenues in Brownwood.

“Each of our classes will focus on energy conservation, so students in the program get a well-rounded, hands-on education on the topic,” said Dr. Julie Welker, director of the programs, professor of communication and chair of HPU’s Department of Communication Studies.

One class in particular unifies the programs and allows students to gain experience with a technology that plays an increasingly important role in the world’s technology.

“Robotics has been a big emphasis in our program the last few years, and this year our focus will be building robots that help with energy conservation,” said Dr. Welker. “Mrs. Hull, who teaches our robotics program for fourth through sixth graders, will also have an energy bike that the kids will love. Students will get to experience first-hand just how much energy it takes to power something.”

Dr. Lester Towell, professor and chair of HPU’s Department of Computer Information Systems, will be back this year with the very popular 3-D printing class.

“Our students really enjoyed learning about this cutting-edge technology and all of its applications,” said Dr. Welker. “I’m excited to see what Dr. Towell will show our students about 3-D printing this year.”

For more information, visit the website listed above or contact Dr. Welker by phone at (325) 649-8508 or by e-mail at


Photo cutline: Summer Scholars and Young Scholars camps, HPU’s popular summer programs for children, will take place July 13-17. This year’s theme is “Energy Wars.”

HPU to graduate 140 students this Saturday

BROWNWOOD – May 7, 2015 – Howard Payne University will graduate 140 students during the spring Commencement ceremony this Saturday, May 9, 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. Dr. Ronny Marriott ’87, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Temple and member of HPU’s Board of Trustees, will deliver the charge to the graduates.

Additional program participants include: Corey Ash ’92, associate professor of music and director of bands; Jane Collette ’81, president of the HPU Alumni Association; Dr. Gary Gramling ’81, director of the graduate program in youth ministry and professor of Christian studies; Rev. Morgan Malone, executive director of Denton Baptist Association; Lillian Murselle McMillan, candidate for graduation; Dr. Kevin Mitchell, pastor of First Baptist Church of Pecos; 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; Dr. Joe Robinson, director of the instructional leadership graduate program and professor of education; Dr. Michael Rosato, dean of the School of Education and professor of education; Carter Sharpe, first vice chairman of the Board of Trustees; Dr. W. Mark Tew, provost; Lana Wagner ’97, registrar; Dr. Julie Welker ’94, faculty president, professor of communication and chair of the Department of Communication Studies; Dr. Russell Wheelington, associate professor of Christian studies; and the HPU Instrumental Ensemble.

The Commencement ceremony will be preceded on Friday, May 8, 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.


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.