BROWNWOOD – June 25, 2021 – Howard Payne University recently celebrated the close of the 2020-21 academic year with Commencement ceremonies recognizing fall 2020 and spring 2021 graduates. The university wrapped up the spring semester continuing construction projects, accomplishing academic firsts, adding new academic programs and welcoming new coaches to lead athletic teams, along with marking many other milestones and achievements.
In light of the successful year, the upcoming academic year shows great promise. Dr. Cory Hines, HPU president, commented on the university’s bright future while reflecting on the past year.
“I’m so proud of the successes of our university and the fortitude of the HPU family in the course of this year,” said Dr. Hines. “Along with the rest of the world, we faced unprecedented adversity. During this time, rather than merely maintaining the status quo, we made great strides to position our institution for years of growth. This is cause for celebration and continued thankfulness for the Lord’s provision.”
Construction on the Newbury Family Welcome Center, the university’s first new building in 20 years, is continuing on schedule. Additionally, the university’s Guy D. Newman Honors Academy renovation project received a $600,000 challenge grant from the Mabee Foundation. Work is ongoing and fundraising is expected to be completed in December. The Newbury Place Apartments, the university’s on-campus apartments, also underwent renovations in spring 2021.
The university celebrated enrollment growth between the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 academic years. Additionally, at the university’s spring 2021 Commencement ceremony, Adrien Barrientos, Hanna Crow, Josie McClung, Ashley Strong and Kira Teel became the first graduates from HPU’s School of Nursing.
The School of Science and Mathematics also announced a new software engineering undergraduate program. Courses in the program will begin to be offered in the fall 2021 semester. The university’s Student Speaker Bureau speech and debate team earned its first-ever overall sweepstakes at the Texas Intercollegiate Forensics Association (TIFA) Fall Championship tournament. The team followed this success up in the spring with a second-place overall finish in the TIFA Spring Championship tournament.
HPU athletics welcomed new coaches in the spring, with two alumni returning to lead teams. Jason Bachtel ’03 was named head coach of the Yellow Jacket football team in January. Additionally, Nadir Dalleh ’00 joined the university in April to lead the men’s basketball team as head coach.
The new coaches each represent a key element of HPU sports history. Coach Bachtel’s family has been represented through decades of HPU sports history, both as athletes and coaches. Coach Dalleh played for the Yellow Jacket men’s basketball team from 1997 to 2000, earning All-Conference honors three times on teams that won three conference championships and made three NAIA national tournament appearances.
HPU also developed articulation agreements with Texas State Technical College (TSTC) and Tarleton State University (TSU). The agreement with TSTC will help provide expanded academic opportunities to students at both institutions. The agreement with TSU will facilitate the enrollment of HPU students in graduate programs in science at TSU.
In the midst of the difficulties presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, HPU had a strong finish to the year. Through the commitment of the HPU family to the university’s health and safety guidelines, on the final day of the spring 2021 semester the university had recorded just 66 cumulative exposures and 37 cumulative positive cases in the course of the semester. Additionally, it had been 78 days since the last employee positive case and 54 days since the last student positive case. The case and exposure totals were down from 248 cumulative exposures and 119 cumulative positive cases in the fall 2020 semester.
Cutline: Howard Payne University recently celebrated the close of a successful academic year marking milestones, academic firsts and continuing construction projects.