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HPU’s Guy D. Newman Honors Academy broadens students’ horizons

Spencer and McNiece for webBROWNWOOD – July 6, 2017 – Throughout its more than 50-year history, students in Howard Payne University’s Guy D. Newman Honors Academy have been challenged by and edified through a wide array of opportunities.

As HPU’s multidisciplinary honors program, the Academy emphasizes instruction in public policy and civic engagement. Formerly the Douglas MacArthur Academy of Freedom, the Academy was founded in 1962 under the leadership of Dr. Newman, who served as president of the university from 1955 to 1973.

A limited number of students are accepted into the Academy each semester which helps strengthen the bond among the faculty and students.

“We try to emphasize fellowship with students and faculty beyond typical classroom interactions,” said Dr. Matthew McNiece ’03, Academy director and chair and associate professor of history and government.

During the 2016-2017 academic year, the Academy faculty and students hosted a variety of events including the academic presentation of the documentary “Tickling Giants” and watch parties for the presidential debates and election coverage. Academy majors were also among the HPU students who participated in state and national competitions through Moot Court and Mock Trial. Additionally, the Student Speaker Bureau speech and debate team and the Model United Nations team traveled to London and Milan, respectively.

Frequent banquets and meetings allow Academy students to interact with alumni from the program and members of the Academy’s Board of Directors. Students working on their Academy theses also entertain questions from the Board of Directors in preparation of the oral defense before faculty.

“The more we can do to add to their undergraduate experiences in and out of the classroom, the better prepared they’ll be for the kinds of things they’ll face in the ‘real world,’” said Dr. McNiece.

Sydney Spencer of Georgetown graduated Magna Cum Laude from HPU in May 2017 with majors in the Academy, social work and social science (global studies).

“The experiences the Academy offered me through numerous experiential learning opportunities, one-on-one meetings with professors and the thesis curriculum allowed me to grow as a leader and enhance my knowledge of civic policy and its application on both a national and global level,” she said. “As a recent graduate of the program, I feel confident that the Academy and its professors have prepared me to be successful in future job interviews and master’s degree programs.”

Three Academy faculty members, including Dr. McNiece, are graduates from the program.

“Coming back to teach in the Academy says our experiences here were good and valuable, but it’s also our way of giving back,” he said. “The program emphasizes civic engagement and this is one of the ways we demonstrate that.”

The Academy offers several scholarships each year including a maximum of five full-tuition scholarships. Additional scholarship and academic opportunities are offered for junior-level Academy students through the Hatton W. Sumners Foundation.

For more information about the Academy, visit To learn more about enrolling at Howard Payne University, visit or call 325-649-8020.


Cutline: Sydney Spencer, a student in HPU’s Guy D. Newman Honors Academy, graduated in May 2017. She is pictured with Dr. Matthew McNiece, Academy director and chair and associate professor of history and government.