BROWNWOOD – February 25, 2016 – Howard Payne University recently granted its highest honor, the honorary Doctor of Humanities degree, to Richard W. Nassar of El Paso. Dr. Nassar was awarded the degree during the university’s fall Commencement ceremony in December.
Dr. Nassar was born in Lebanon and immigrated to the United States in 1975. He is an active member and ordained deacon of El Paso’s First Baptist Church. Dr. David Lowrie, senior pastor of the church and former member of HPU’s Board of Trustees, wrote a letter to Dr. Bill Ellis, university president, recommending Dr. Nassar for this honor.
“As a Christian businessman he looked for ways to use his professional and personal influence to advance the cause of the Christ in the world, especially in El Paso,” wrote Dr. Lowrie. “He helped many people escape the dangers of persecution by sponsoring them for citizenship.”
Upon his retirement, Dr. Nassar focused his efforts on establishing a dialogue between Christians, Muslims and Jews, Dr. Lowrie continued in his letter of recommendation.
“In 2013, he helped the church launch the Middle Eastern Studies Ministry which has created a safe place for people of different Middle Eastern faiths to dialogue and seek greater understanding,” wrote Dr. Lowrie. “All the while, Mr. Nassar’s focus has been on presenting the claims of Christ by his words and example. His influence in the Middle Eastern community of El Paso is vast and very significant. I believe Mr. Nassar is the kind of man of courage and peace who offers hope in our world that we can find peaceful ways to live together.”
Dr. Nassar is an author and poet and recently finished a book of Arabic poetry. The collection is scheduled to be published in Lebanon in 2016.
“HPU was delighted to present its honorary Doctor of Humanities degree to Dr. Nassar, a man who has made the pursuit of peace among nations and the cause of Christ his lifelong mission,” said Dr. Ellis. “We commend the work he has done in El Paso and around the world and join him in prayer for a more peaceful world.”
Photo cutline: Upon receiving the honorary Doctor of Humanities degree, Dr. Richard Nassar addressed the crowd at HPU’s fall Commencement ceremony.