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HPU to recognize 10 honorees during Homecoming 2015

BROWNWOOD – October 7, 2015 – Howard Payne University will recognize 10 individuals during the Homecoming 2015 celebrations, October 16-17.

This year’s honorees include Dr. Dan Crawford ’64, Distinguished Alumnus; Dr. Sally M. (Davis) Kozoll ’61, Distinguished Alumna; Jeff Mitchell ’02, Outstanding Young Graduate; Melba (Harrelson) Barger ’58, Coming Home Queen; Betty Broome ’95, Medal of Service; Gene Deason ’72, Medal of Service; Dr. Mitzi Lehrer, Grand Marshal; Joe Cardenas ’77, Dr. José Rivas Distinguished Service Award; Tim Brasher ’95, Sports Hall of Fame; and Don Kelso ’80, Sports Hall of Fame.

Nine of the individuals will be recognized during the Alumni and Sports Hall of Fame Banquet, sponsored by the HPU Alumni Association, on Friday, October 16. The banquet begins at 5 p.m. For ticket information, visit or call (325) 649-8044. The Dr. José Rivas Distinguished Service award will be presented during the Hispanic Alumni Breakfast on Saturday, October 17.

For more information about these and other Homecoming events, visit

Dr. Dan Crawford ’64, Distinguished Alumnus

Dr. Dan Crawford for webAccording to Dr. Dan Crawford, almost everything he has done since graduation – including public speaking, preaching, teaching and writing – has its roots in what he learned during his time at HPU.

Dr. Crawford received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Bible with minors in English and religious education in 1964. During his four years at HPU, he was involved in the Baptist Student Union, the Life Service Band and the Ministerial Association. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for HPU’s Alumni Association and is a past president of the organization.

Following his time at HPU, Dr. Crawford went on to study at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and received his Bachelor of Divinity, Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees in 1967, 1976 and 1981, respectively.

Dr. Crawford has served in a variety of ministerial and teaching roles and has spoken, ministered and traveled in all 50 states and more than 55 countries. He has written for a number of Christian publications and is the author of “Dr. Dan’s Monday Morning Manna” posted online every week at

His wife, Joanne (Cunningham) Crawford, is a 1965 HPU graduate. The couple has two children, Danna (Crawford) Presbaugh and James Crawford, and two grandchildren, Whitney (Presbaugh) Kennedy, a 2014 HPU graduate, and Price Presbaugh. Dr. and Mrs. Crawford reside in Fort Worth.

Dr. Sally M. (Davis) Kozoll ’61, Distinguished Alumna

Dr. Sally Kozoll for webDr. Sally M. (Davis) Kozoll said HPU has encouraged her by nurturing in her a strong value system along with service and compassion for others.

Dr. Kozoll is a 1961 graduate of HPU with a Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education and a minor in speech. She also attended Texas State University where she obtained her Master of Education degree in special education. She received a Doctor of Philosophy degree from the University of New Mexico with a major in foundations of education and minors in psychology and anthropology. She currently serves as a tenured professor at the University of New Mexico.

During her time at HPU, Dr. Kozoll participated in student organizations such as Mission Band, Friday Extra, College Theater, Jacket Coeds, Psi Upsilon Chi (psychology) and Beta Gamma Pi (science).

Dr. Kozoll is a consultant with the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, through which she worked with seven nations to develop substance-abuse prevention programs for youth. She also serves and consults with organizations in Zimbabwe and Ethiopia.

Dr. Kozoll and her husband, Dr. Richard Kozoll, who is a preventative medicine physician, work together on many projects to improve the health and well-being of often-forgotten and under-served rural people groups. The couple lives in Cuba, N.M.

Jeff Mitchell ’02, Outstanding Young Graduate

Jeff Mitchell for webBrownwood resident Jeff Mitchell said devotion and care from his HPU family was a major influence in who he became in life. Mitchell received his Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry and computer information systems with a minor in mathematics from HPU in 2002. He participated in many activities during his time at HPU, including cheerleading, band and the Baptist Student Ministry.

Mitchell began working for Kohler Company in 1999 as a part-time employee while still a student at HPU. He has since held a variety of progressive management positions with the company and today serves as pottery superintendent, directing a workforce of approximately 760 associates. In addition to his HPU degree, Mitchell earned a Master of Arts degree in mathematics from the University of Houston.

Mitchell is involved in a number of church and civic activities and credits mentors among HPU’s faculty and staff for his successes in leadership.

His wife, Kristy (Snider) Mitchell graduated from HPU in 2000. The couple has two sons, Tyler and Peyton.

Melba (Harrelson) Barger ’58, Coming Home Queen

Melba Barger for webMelba (Harrelson) Barger of Brownwood has many cherished memories from her time at HPU, including participating in the university’s first Chime Out ceremony.

Barger graduated from HPU in 1958 with a Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education and a minor in art education. While at HPU, she participated in Alpha Chi, the Life Service Band, Future Teachers of America and the Veda Hodge Hall dorm council. In 1957, she served as editor of the Lasso yearbook.

Barger went on to receive her Master of Arts in social rehabilitation and social services from Sam Houston State University. Her thesis was titled An Investigation into Family Size and Classification Status of Instructional Youth. She taught public school for 30 years before retiring in 1995.

Barger and her husband, the late Dann Barger, also a 1958 graduate, married one day after their HPU graduation. They were married for 52 years until his death in 2010. The couple has two sons, Jon Harrell Barger (wife Kimberly) and James Michael Barger (wife Tammy), and five grandchildren – Evan, Dana, Holli, Alexandria and Garrett.

Betty Broome ’95, Medal of Service

Betty Broome for webBetty Broome of Brownwood attended HPU as a non-traditional student while taking night classes and working full-time for the university. She graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in 1995.

Broome was named to the Who’s Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities list in 1994. She also served as second-vice president for the HPU Woman’s Club and received the organization’s prestigious Yellow Rose award in 2012. HPU presented her with the Outstanding Staff Member Award in 2004 and with Excellence in Service awards in 1999 and 2003.

Among other roles, Broome worked as an executive assistant to six different university presidents during her 26 years as a staff member at HPU. Upon retirement, she was named Executive Assistant to the President Emeritus.

Broome remains active at HPU, serving as secretary of the Retired Employees Association. Additionally, she enjoys attending HPU functions including sporting events, concerts, theatre productions, Homecoming and more. She also serves as a member of the Retired Faculty/Staff Area Steering Committee for HPU’s A Call to Send campaign and assists with the scheduling of volunteers for the university’s Food & Essentials Pantry.

Broome and her husband, Clois, have three daughters: Kim Moore, Lara Haddock (husband Jim), and Amy Spargo ’94 (husband Ben ’94). The couple has six grandchildren: James Haddock, Amber Moore, Jack Haddock, Kate Haddock, Emma Spargo and Grant Spargo.

Gene Deason ’72, Medal of Service

Gene Deason for webWith experience as editor of HPU’s Yellow Jacket student newspaper, Gene Deason used his time at HPU to prepare for his long career in journalism.

Deason graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree and a minor in journalism in 1972. In addition to leading the Yellow Jacket staff, Deason served in the Student Government Association and became a member of the Gamma Beta Phi honor society during his senior year. He was a member of several other student organizations including Phi Eta Sigma, Pi Chi journalism society and Circle K International.

While a student at HPU, Deason served as a part-time reporter for the Brownwood Bulletin from 1969 to 1972. He went on to become a full-time reporter after college and then managing editor, executive editor and assistant publisher at the Bulletin between 1972 and 2000. Deason additionally served at the Stephenville Empire Tribune and Alice Echo News before returning to serve as editor at the Brownwood Bulletin in 2004, the position he held until his retirement in 2012.

Among his many civic activities, Deason is chairman of the Board of Directors for HPU’s Guy D. Newman Honors Academy and board secretary for HPU’s Alumni Association.

Deason’s wife, Valeri (Chambers) Deason, is a 1973 HPU graduate. The couple lives in Brownwood and has two children, Amy (Deason) Slaughter and Trey Deason, and one grandson, Ross Everett Slaughter.

Dr. Mitzi Lehrer, Grand Marshal

Dr. Mitzi Lehrer for webBrownwood native Dr. Mitzi Lehrer retired as associate professor of education in 2015 following 19 years of service to HPU. She currently serves as an adjunct faculty member in HPU’s School of Education.

Dr. Lehrer received a Bachelor of Science degree in home economics from Baylor University in 1962. She went on to complete her Master of Education degree in 1986 from Abilene Christian University and her Doctor of Education degree in curriculum and instruction from Baylor University in 1997.

Prior to her career at HPU, Dr. Lehrer taught for 30 years in a number of public school districts across the state.

Dr. Lehrer served on a variety of committees at HPU and as a faculty sponsor for Kappa Delta Pi. Among other accomplishments, she led student groups from the School of Education on trips to London in 2010, 2012 and 2014.

Dr. Lehrer additionally has several family ties to the university including her mother and brother, as well as her uncle, Dr. Guy D. Newman, HPU president from 1955 to 1973. She and her late husband, Wayne, have two children, Robert Lehrer (wife Liz) and Mary Lehrer. They also have two grandchildren, Jacob and Joshua Lehrer.

Joe Cardenas ’77, Dr. José Rivas Distinguished Service Award

Joe Cardenas for webJoe Cardenas of Brownwood, this year’s recipient of the Dr. José Rivas Distinguished Service Award, was mentored by Dr. Rivas who encouraged him to attend HPU. Cardenas graduated from HPU in 1977 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and a minor in history. He attended the Douglas MacArthur Academy of Freedom (today the Guy D. Newman Honors Academy) as a Hatton W. Sumners Scholarship recipient and also participated in student organizations including Kappa Delta Pi and La Hora Bautista.

While a student at HPU, Cardenas served as dorm supervisor, campus supervisor and behavioral trainer for the Texas Youth Commission.

He went on to obtain his Master of Education degree and superintendent certification from Tarleton State University. Employed by Brownwood ISD for 25 years, Cardenas currently serves as a BISD administrator.

Cardenas was a U.S. Army Sergeant and Vietnam veteran honorably discharged. He is married to Ronnie (Wise) Cardenas, a 1981 HPU graduate. The couple has three children – Natalie ’13, Juanita Mercedes ’14 and Gabriel, an HPU junior.

Tim Brasher ’95, Sports Hall of Fame

Tim Brasher for webBrownwood resident Tim Brasher said professors at HPU reinforced family values and taught him to balance life’s priorities. Brasher graduated from the university in 1995 with a degree in exercise and sport science.

While at HPU, Brasher was named the Texas Intercollegiate Athletic Association (TIAA) men’s tennis Player of the Year during his senior season of 1994. Additionally, Brasher helped lead the team to a TIAA championship in 1991 and NAIA and NCAA III national tournament appearances in 1991 and 1994. In three seasons, he received 2nd and 1st Team All-TIAA honors, twice a NAIA All-District selection.

Upon graduating, Brasher served as HPU head tennis coach from 1995 to 1997. He guided the women’s team to an American Southwest Conference championship and a NCAA III national tournament appearance in 1996. That same year, he was named TIAA women’s Coach of the Year. On the men’s side, Brasher led the Yellow Jackets to an ASC Championship in 1997 and to two appearances in the NCAA III national tournament. He also was tabbed as the ASC men’s Coach of the Year in 1997.

Today, he runs a successful business, Brasher & Co., in Brownwood. He and his wife, Michelle, have three children – Blake, Lilly and Abby.

Don Kelso ’80, Sports Hall of Fame

Don Kelso for webBig Spring resident Don Kelso said HPU taught him to work hard and stay faithful even while being an underdog. As an All-American defensive lineman for the Yellow Jackets in 1979, he would go on to sign free-agent contracts with the Houston Oilers and Los Angeles Rams of the National Football League (NFL).

Kelso graduated from HPU in 1980 with a Bachelor of Science degree in physical education and health with a minor in history. He went on to serve as a teacher and coach for more than 30 years with stints in McCamey, Crosbyton, Jacksboro and Big Spring.

After redshirting his freshman year of 1975 at HPU, Kelso would start at offensive guard for two seasons, earning 2nd Team All-Lone Star Conference honors. He then moved to the defensive side of the ball his junior and senior seasons of 1978 and 1979. He was 2nd Team All-Lone Star Conference his junior season and 1st Team All-Lone Star Conference along with his All-American honor in his senior year of 1979.

Kelso stays involved in his local church by serving as a deacon. Additionally, he teaches a Sunday School class for adult couples. Kelso and his wife, Jean (Barnes), whom he met at HPU, have two sons: Clayton (wife Kelsey) and Brendon. The couple has two grandchildren, Brenley and Cannon.

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