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HPU announces Homecoming 2016 honorees

BROWNWOOD – October 20, 2016 – Howard Payne University will recognize 10 individuals during the Homecoming 2016 celebrations, October 28-30.

This year’s honorees include Dr. Vernon Holleman ’53, Distinguished Alumnus; Robert Morrison ’82, Distinguished Alumnus; Dr. Brad Collins ’01, Outstanding Young Graduate; Emily Gore ’09, Outstanding Young Graduate; Martha Dufresne ’71, Coming Home Queen; Dwain Bruner, Medal of Service; Stephen Haynes, Grand Marshal; Dan McGhee ’71, Sports Hall of Fame; Greg Nixon ’06, Sports Hall of Fame; and Dr. Adrian Gil, Dr. José Rivas Distinguished Service Award.

The honorees will be recognized during the Alumni and Sports Hall of Fame Banquet, sponsored by the HPU Alumni Association, on Friday, October 28. The banquet begins at 6 p.m. The Dr. José Rivas Distinguished Service award will be presented during the Hispanic Fellowship Breakfast on Saturday, October 29. For ticket information for either event, visit or call (325) 649-8044.

For more information about these and other Homecoming events, visit

Dr. Vernon Holleman ’53, Distinguished Alumnus

Dr Vernon HollemanAccording to Dr. Vernon Holleman, his preparation at HPU was so successful that he was quickly accepted into three medical schools upon graduating in 1953 with a double major in chemistry and biology and an art minor. At that time there were only three medical schools in Texas.

He chose to attend Baylor College of Medicine in Houston where he graduated with his Doctor of Medicine degree in 1958. He went on to complete an internship and residency at Scott & White Clinic and Hospital before joining the senior medical staff. He continues to work reduced hours of 45 to 50 hours a week at the hospital (since renamed Baylor Scott & White). By his estimation, he has been employed continuously by Scott & White longer than any other physician.

Dr. Holleman attends yearly internal medicine review courses at Harvard Medical School and has attended courses at Southwestern Medical School and many others in the more than 58 years he has practiced medicine.

He has been a member of several churches throughout the years including Brownwood’s Calvary Baptist Church and Belton’s First Baptist Church. He is a member of the Boone and Crockett Club, the oldest wildlife conservation organization in North America. He serves on the club’s publications and records committees.

He and his wife, Shirley Eyvonne Roberts Holleman, recently celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary. They have three children, Richard, Joel and Douglas.

Robert Morrison ’82, Distinguished Alumnus

robert-morrisonRobert Morrison says HPU provided him with a faith-based education and lifetime friends and connections.

Morrison graduated from HPU in 1982 with a degree in physical education and minor in social studies. While at HPU, he was involved with Jackets for Jesus and Ebony Imani, and was captain of the Yellow Jacket football team. He went on to sign a free-agent contract with the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks before sustaining a career-ending injury.

Morrison earned a Master of Education degree from Tarleton State University in 1987 and principal certification and a Master of Education degree in educational administration from Prairie View A&M University in 1998.

His career in education includes teaching, coaching and administrative positions at several Texas high schools. He began his career as teacher and coach at Bangs High School before becoming a teacher and coach at Westfield High School in Spring. He then served as assistant and associate principal at Spring High School; assistant and associate principal at Montgomery High School; and principal at Sweeny High School. He currently serves as principal at Abilene High School.

Morrison’s professional affiliations include memberships in the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals (also past-president), the Texas Association of African-American Principals, the Legislative Committee, the Texas Assistant Principal’s Committee, the Texas High School Coaches Association and the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

He has received numerous honors including Teacher of the Year for Bangs High School and the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals Assistant Principal of the Year for Region 6 in 2012-2013.

Dr. Brad Collins ’01, Outstanding Young Graduate

dr-brad-collinsDr. Brad Collins says the HPU faculty, administration, coaching staff and other personnel encouraged him to find his vision and gave him the platform to achieve it.

Dr. Collins graduated from HPU in 2001 with a degree in biology. While at the university, he was a member of HPU’s football team for four years, during which he was named Academic All-Conference. He was also a member of the track team for one year.

Upon graduating from Parker University in 2004 with his Doctor of Chiropractic degree, Dr. Collins purchased a private practice where he has been owner and doctor for 11 years. He has also had the opportunity to be the team doctor for several teams that have won state championships in football and track. He has also worked with multiple Olympic athletes, collegiate athletes and professional baseball and football players.

Dr. Collins is a member of Grandview’s First Baptist Church where he serves on the personnel committee. Additionally, he is a member of the Disciple All Nations Board of Directors and Grandview’s School Board of Trustees. He is a former member of Grandview’s 4B Economic Development Board.

He and his wife, Dr. Kandace R. Collins, have three children, Carter, Codi and Kenna.

Emily Gore ’09, Outstanding Young Graduate

emily-goreEmily Gore says HPU, particularly the Guy D. Newman Honors Academy (then the Douglas MacArthur Academy of Freedom) and the Department of Communication Studies, gave her the skills needed to become a strong, qualified working professional.

Gore graduated from HPU in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and minor in public relations. While at HPU, she was involved with Model United Nations and the Sumners Scholars program.

Gore went on to earn a Master of Public Health degree from the University of North Texas. She has worked in the field of public health preparedness since 2007 when she began her career with the Brownwood/Brown County Health Department. She has served as the public health manager for the Dallas County Health and Human Services Public Health Preparedness Division since 2011. In that role, she is responsible for public health and medical preparedness and response programs ranging from infectious disease to bioterrorism and other all-hazards threats.

She has been a state and national reviewer for the Project Public Health Ready Accreditation Program for local health departments and is currently serving as the vice chair on the Medical Countermeasures Workgroup for the National Association of City and County Health Officials (NACCHO). She also recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to serve as a committee member and panelist for the Institute of Medicine’s workshop on Sustainability of the CDC Strategic National Stockpile. She has been a panelist and speaker for other events including the NACCHO Annual Conference, NACCHO Public Health Preparedness Summit and the Contingency Planning and Management Symposium.

Many of Gore’s family members also attended HPU including her grandparents, Dale ’55 and Laverne ’54 Gore. Dale Gore is a current member of HPU’s Board of Trustees.

Martha Dufresne ’71, Coming Home Queen

martha-dufresneMartha (Beene) Dufresne says HPU (then Howard Payne College) provided her with a Christian environment and Bible-based curriculum as well as Christian professors, friends and disciplines that continually reminded her of her relationship with Christ.

Dufresne graduated from the university in 1971 with a degree in business education and a minor in music education. She went on to earn an associate degree in nursing from Midland College in 1985. In addition to being a wife, mother, grandmother and homemaker, she has served in a variety of roles including missionary, public school teacher, college instructor, paramedic instructor, emergency medical technician, registered nurse and homecare giver.

While at HPU, she was involved with organizations such as the Baptist Student Union, Sigma Alpha Sigma and the Oratorio Chorus. She served as a summer missionary to Michigan with the Home Mission Board and was named to the Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities list.

She served on HPU’s Alumni Association Board of Directors from 1994 to 2000, including a stint as president from 1996 to 1998. Additionally, she is a member of the alumna group Sisters of the Seventies. She is active in her church as a Sunday School teacher among other roles and has held leadership positions within the Woman’s Missionary Union.

She and her husband, Thomas Dufresne ’72, have two daughters, Christy (Dufresne) Lannom ’94 (spouse Clint Lannom) and Alicia (Dufresne) Music ’98 (spouse John Music ’00), and eight grandchildren.

Dwain Bruner, Medal of Service

dwain-brunerThe Bruner name is widely recognized in this area of Texas, and Dwain Bruner and family have made a significant impact on HPU and Baptist higher education.

Bruner graduated from Baylor University with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in 1951 and from Detroit’s Chevrolet School of Merchandising & Management in 1956. Additionally, he served in the United States Navy from 1951 to 1955 and the U.S. Naval Reserve from 1955 to 1972, with the final rank of Commander.

He was employed with his father at Bruner Chevrolet Co. in Kerens from 1955 to 1962; as a Chevrolet dealer at Dwain Bruner Chevrolet in Wolfe City from 1962 to 1969; as a GM/Chrysler dealer at Bruner Motors, Inc., in Stephenville from 1969 to present; and as a GM/Toyota dealer at Bruner Auto Group in Brownwood/Early from 2007 to present.

Bruner has been a member of Stephenville’s First Baptist Church since 1969, having served as a deacon, teacher, substitute organist and on various committees throughout the years. Additionally, he has served on the Wolfe City and Stephenville school boards, the Erath County Central Appraisal District Board and HPU’s Board of Trustees. He is a member of the Brownwood, Early and Stephenville Chambers of Commerce.

Bruner is married to Carolyn Wyatt Bruner and they have two children, Gwyn (Bruner) Schneck and Greg Bruner, a current member of HPU’s Board of Trustees.

Stephen Haynes, Grand Marshal

stephen-haynesThough Stephen Haynes, mayor of Brownwood since 2010, didn’t attend HPU, he says the university did help him prepare for future success. Both of his parents, Darrell Haynes ’64 and Marilyn Corea Haynes ’67, are graduates and HPU left a lasting impact on them that dramatically influenced his childhood.

Haynes graduated from Abilene Christian University in 1996 with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree and from Texas Tech University School of Law in 1999 with a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree. He is licensed by the State Bar of Texas, the All Federal District Courts in Texas, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and the United States Court of Federal Claims.

He began his legal career in Dallas where he worked for several years. In 2006, he moved home to Brownwood where he practices law and is a partner in the Haynes Law Firm, P.C. His practice is devoted to all types of civil law with a particular emphasis in civil litigation.

Haynes is actively involved in many community and civic affairs. He is a past chairman of the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce and vice president of Brownwood Manor, Inc. Additionally, he serves as a deacon at Austin Avenue Church of Christ.

He and his wife, Lori, have four children, Austin, Emily, Allie and Ella.

Dan McGhee ’71, Sports Hall of Fame

dan-mcgheeDan McGhee was a four-year letterman at HPU. McGhee, who graduated from the university in 1971, was also a four-time All-Lone Star Conference selection for some of the best teams in Howard Payne history.

With 1,694 career points (1967-’68, ’68-’69, ’69-’70, ’70-’71), McGhee scored a career-high 40 points versus Southwest Texas State College on February 24, 1968.

He had 651 career field goals, 392 career free throws and 775 career rebounds, all three still in the top 10 all-time at HPU. He grabbed a career high 18 rebounds versus Roseland AAU on March 29, 1970.

McGhee was drafted on January 23, 1971, by the Dallas Chaparrals American Basketball Association (ABA), a 17th round pick (#165 overall). The Dallas Chaparrals later become the San Antonio Spurs.

McGhee lived in Brownwood for many years after college but now resides in Brenham.

Greg Nixon ’06, Sports Hall of Fame

greg-nixonGreg Nixon, class of 2006, was an All-American sprinter and football standout for the Howard Payne athletic program.

In his junior year of 2005-2006, Nixon started running track in college part-time to help keep his speed for football. With only a few months of training, he became the NCAA Division III national champion at 200 meters. In his senior season, Nixon won the national championship crown in the 100 and 200 meter, making him a four-time All-American in the sprints.

Along with conference championships in the 100- and 200-meter sprints, Nixon was named the American Southwest Conference Athlete of the Year at the end of his senior season.

After college, Nixon was convinced to run the 400-meter and went on to claim the 2007 U.S. Indoor National 400-meter title only having run the race four times in his career.

Qualifying for the U.S. Outdoor National Championships later that year, Nixon also made his first USA team participating in the Pan Am Games earning a silver medal in the 4×400 meter relay.

In 2008, Nixon won a gold medal in the 2008 World Indoor Championships 4×400 meter relay and also made it to the finals in the U.S. Olympic trials, placing 7th.

In 2009, he led the world in the 400 meter, 300 meter and 200 meter in indoor. Nixon made another U.S. Indoor World team in 2010, winning a second gold medal.

Also in 2010, Nixon won the U.S. Outdoor National title in the 400 meter with a world-leading time of 44.61. He went on the next year to run with USA in the 4×400 meter, helping claim the 2011 World Outdoor Championship.

Dr. Adrian Gil, Dr. José Rivas Distinguished Service Award

dr-adrian-gilDr. Adrian Gil joined HPU’s faculty in fall 2014 as director of the university’s El Paso Center and associate professor of business. Under his leadership, the center has increased its academic offerings and taken advantage of new opportunities for community engagement.

Dr. Gil graduated from The University of Texas at El Paso with a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering. He then worked for two global manufacturers where he was allowed to fast-track through several functional positions managing engineering, quality assurance, environmental compliance, safety, purchasing, production control and distribution.

While working, Dr. Gil returned to UTEP to obtain his Master of Business Administration degree with an emphasis in finance. He later returned to school once more to complete his doctoral degree in international business with an emphasis in strategic management.

His work has been presented at several national and international conferences and he is a published researcher. In addition to his teaching and administrative duties at HPU, he has taught courses at UTEP and the University of Houston-Downtown.

He and his wife, Joanna, have three sons, Adrian, Andres and Joshua.