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Student committee plans 2019 Christian Association of Student Leaders conference hosted by HPU

BROWNWOOD – April 10, 2019 – Howard Payne University welcomed more than 200 student representatives to campus in January for the 2019 Christian Association of Student Leaders (CASL) conference. CASL was formed in 1998 by the Texas Baptist universities and is hosted each year by one of those institutions. CASL is designed to develop and strengthen college students in their campus leadership roles and relationships with Christ. This year’s event was coordinated by a student committee organized and assisted by Dr. Magen Bunyard, vice president for student life and dean of students.
“Our HPU students did a wonderful job of prayerfully and thoughtfully selecting all the elements of the conference including speakers, roundtable discussion and workshop topics, meals, activities and the schedule,” she said. “I am very thankful for their hard work and commitment to making decisions that honored God and helped equip their peers for excellence in service. They fulfilled their roles with exceptional enthusiasm and dedication and we had a lot of fun in the process.”

Members of the CASL committee were Keith Baker of Houston; Caleb Kostreva of Clifton, Colorado; Spencer Wolverton of DeSoto; Foga’a Solomona-Afoa of Pearl City, Hawaii; Sawyer Fisher of Bertram, who served as the conference coordinator; and Emma Reed of Arlington, who served as president of the association.

“CASL is awesome because it brings people together who do similar things on different campuses and helps them see areas that are the same,” said Emma Reed, senior family studies and Guy D. Newman Honors Academy major. “They can be encouraged by similar struggles and successes.”

The CASL conference exists to encourage student leaders to collaborate with one another for the betterment of their campuses. Accomplishing this is no small task – for over a year, the members of the CASL committee participated in a planning process that required both detailed decision making and big-picture perspective.
“It entailed a lot,” said Caleb Kostreva, senior social sciences and Guy D. Newman Honors Academy major. “We planned everything from the snack bags, to how the main sessions were going to look, to the schedule of the conference as a whole.”

Each member of the committee attended a CASL conference at another institution at least once prior to or during the course of the committee’s planning. Some of the committee members were able to develop friendships with student from other schools through their CASL attendance. For Sawyer Fisher, senior business administration major, this has been an important part of his CASL experience and something he will miss after graduation.

“My favorite part about CASL is that you start building these friendships through the conference,” he said. “It’s cool to see what gifts God has given them to use for the kingdom. It’s also beneficial just to see that every campus struggles in some aspect. The whole point of CASL is just getting together and sharing ideas with others. I’m going to miss CASL – I miss it already.”

Foga’a Solomona-Afoa, junior athletic training major, said attendance at previous CASL conferences also gave insight to the committee’s decision-making process.

“I have been able to attend CASL every year since I was a freshman and every year was a learning opportunity,” she said. “It was our past experiences that helped us plan out the conference to the smallest details.”

One of the major decisions the committee had to make was what the theme for CASL 2019 would be. They chose “Empower,” highlighting the importance of discipleship among students.

“We emphasized discipleship, because we knew a lot of schools have great student leaders, but after they graduate there’s nobody else to step up,” said Spencer Wolverton, senior communication major. “That was our goal – to help teach students about intentional conversation, creating relationships and passing down information to enable others.”

Throughout the conference, students were able to engage in roundtable discussions. This consisted of two individuals from each institution representing specific areas on campus.

“Different schools are able to come together and discuss different experiences,” said Keith Baker, junior studio art major. “We can say, ‘Hey, that’s a good idea’ or ‘we struggle with that too.’ Finding a solution together gives a sense of community, even though we’re from different schools.”

Conference attendees went to breakout sessions where they listened to members of HPU staff speak on topics such as social media usage, self-care and perseverance. Students also heard from guest speaker Keith Weiser, pastor of Resonate Church in Washington and Church Planting Catalyst for the Northwest Baptist Convention, who used the theme verse of Philippians 2:3-4 as a foundation for Christ-like leadership, which empowers others to serve well.

“The main sessions and conversations in the roundtable discussions provide awesome opportunities for people to have these eye-opening experiences, and then bring what they’ve learned back to their campuses,” said Caleb Kostreva.

The committee members also planned a unique and new experience on Friday night that provided an opportunity for the student leaders to participate in service together. In partnership with Good Samaritan Ministries, the students painted bowls for the Empty Bowls Project, an annual event that raises funds to fight hunger and food insecurity both locally and globally.

“Dr. Bunyard said they’ve been talking about doing a service project since CASL was created, but they couldn’t figure out a way to do one with 250 people,” said Emma Reed. “This is the first time anything like that has been implemented. People liked that we made it really personal.”

The CASL committee members expressed pride in their hard work and were grateful for a successful conference.

“It was cool to be able to watch other people get to enjoy the CASL experience and to see all the work and the time that we put into it come to fruition,” said Reed. “I’m proud of the experience that we were able to give people. We just showed them the family atmosphere that we have at Howard Payne by the way that we took them all in and loved them.”


Cutline: Senior Emma Reed introduces members of the CASL committee at the 2019 CASL conference hosted by HPU.

Bruner Auto Group donates truck to HPU Office of Admission

BROWNWOOD – April 9, 2019 – The Bruner Auto Group of Brownwood recently donated a 2018 Chevy Silverado to Howard Payne University’s Office of Admission for use in student recruitment. A decorative vehicle wrap was printed and installed by Willie’s T’s, local business and operator of HPU’s Stinger Store.

The truck serves as part of HPU’s Mobile Go Center, a 42-foot mobile classroom and computer portable application center that is equipped with computers and other resources for students to use as they learn that higher education is attainable.

“The Bruner Auto Group has always shown itself to be a wonderful supporter of HPU and our mission in Christian higher education,” said Kevin Kirk, associate vice president for enrollment management at HPU. “We’re so thankful for that and this is just one of the many ways they’ve demonstrated it – seeing the need for us to have that vehicle to help us promote, recruit and introduce HPU to students and families all over the state.”

The Bruner Auto Group recently celebrated 90 years as a family dealership. The company, which began in east Texas, has served the Brownwood, Early and Stephenville areas for generations and maintains a strong relationship with HPU. Greg Bruner, president of the auto group and member of the HPU Board of Trustees, said that the organization’s relationship with the Brownwood-located university has been mutually beneficial.

“It is important to our family to support a local university, in particular HPU,” said Bruner. “College students bring energy to the community and it is exciting to be a part of that process. We enjoy supporting HPU though scholarship opportunities, athletic programs and other opportunities.”

David Williams, transfer admission counselor and Mobile Go Center coordinator, said the truck, donated in the fall of 2018, has already been beneficial to the Office of Admission.

“The Mobile Go truck has been a great resource for HPU,” said Williams. “We’re very grateful that the Bruner Auto Group provided this to us. Willie’s T’s did a great job producing the wrap. The truck speaks ‘Sting ’em’ spirit no matter where you go.”

Applications are being accepted for the fall 2019 semester at Howard Payne University ( HPU offers a variety of financial aid options, including scholarships for students from Brown County and surrounding counties. For more information about HPU, contact HPU’s Office of Admission at 325-649-8020 or by e-mail at


Cutline: Brownwood area business the Bruner Auto Group recently donated a 2018 Chevy Silverado to the HPU Office of Admission. Pictured, from left to right, are Mike Rodgers, HPU’s chief financial officer and vice president for finance and administration; Rick Newton, Bruner Auto Group’s sales manager; Greg Bruner, president of Bruner Auto Group; and Bill Fishback, HPU’s associate vice president for business and human resources.

HPU student organizations to host charity drive for Children’s Advocacy Center

BROWNWOOD – April 8, 2019 – Howard Payne University’s Criminal Justice Club and Amigos Unidos Club will host an event this Saturday, April 13, to collect new and gently used items for the Heart of Texas Children’s Advocacy Center in Early. The event will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the parking lot of Abundant Life Church on West Commerce in Brownwood.

The organizations are requesting donations of blankets, backpacks, stuffed animals and hygiene products. Dr. Danny Brunette-López, associate professor of Spanish and chair of HPU’s Department of Spanish and Hispanic Studies, serves as adviser of the Amigos Unidos Club.

“The students of both clubs would like to give back to the community and show the true giving spirit of Howard Payne, especially to the children in our area who have suffered greatly,” he said.

For more information, contact Dr. Brunette-López via e-mail at


HPU congratulates alumnus Dr. Ronnie Floyd on SBC CEO post

With reporting by Baptist Press

BROWNWOOD – April 4, 2019 – Dr. Ronnie Floyd, 1978 Howard Payne University graduate, was recently named president and CEO of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention. Dr. Floyd, senior pastor of Cross Church in Arkansas, served as SBC president from 2014 to 2016.

According to a news release distributed by Baptist Press, the official news service of the SBC, Dr. Floyd has 43 years of pastoral experience dating back to First Baptist Church in Cherokee, Texas, in 1976 and subsequently including congregations in Milford, Palacios and Nederland, Texas. He began leading Cross Church in 1986, a post from which he will resign on April 7 to assume leadership of the Executive Committee.

Dr. Floyd is the author of more than 20 books and host and lead speaker of The Summit businesspersons’ luncheon of northwest Arkansas, equipping more than 400 business leaders each week.

“It is wonderful to see one of our graduates called to such a great Kingdom opportunity,” said Dr. Cory Hines, HPU president. “On behalf of the university, I congratulate Dr. Floyd on his appointment and wish him all the best in this new role.”


Cutline: Dr. Ronnie Floyd, 1978 HPU graduate, was recently named president and CEO of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention. Photo courtesy of Cross Church, posted on Baptist Press. Used by permission.

HPU’s new president enjoys fast-paced first day

BROWNWOOD – April 2, 2019 – For the first day on a new job, most people might prefer a relatively light schedule with plenty of time to get acclimated to new surroundings. However, Dr. Cory Hines, Howard Payne University’s energetic new president, had looked at the blank schedule for what would be his first official eight hours and promptly planned a day full of meetings. April 1 was his first day in office, but he was actually in his office for just a little while.

“There will be time to finish unpacking later,” Dr. Hines said. “I couldn’t wait to begin getting connected to the life of our campus and community.”

Dr. Hines, a 1997 graduate of HPU, is eager to build relationships and promote his alma mater. He was so ready to get started that he came to campus the weekend of March 23, ahead of actually taking office, so he could participate in a preview event for prospective students and their families, attend a meeting of the Alumni Association Board of Directors and enjoy performances at Spring Sing, HPU’s annual event featuring musical productions by student organizations. Then, on his first official day, he spent several hours at HPU’s Mabee University Center with various groups of HPU personnel and representatives from Brownwood and Early. At noon, he had lunch with HPU students in the university’s dining hall. On his way back to his office toward the end of the day, he even tried his hand at Jacket Golf – a popular HPU Yellow Jackets pastime played with golf clubs and tennis balls – after being invited to join some students in the midst of a game.

“As I begin my duties as HPU’s president, the most important item on my agenda is to get to know the people around us so I can hear what’s on their hearts and visit about how we can build strong, vital relationships,” Dr. Hines said. “This first day was an important step. I look forward to getting to know more and more people as we move ahead at our main campus and extension centers.”

In his conversations with the people he meets, he enthusiastically shares what HPU has to offer.

“I want our alumni to know that this is still the same university they know and love, and they play an important role in its ongoing vitality,” he said. “I want parents to know HPU is a safe place and they can trust HPU with their kids. I want students to know that we’ll prepare them academically, vocationally and spiritually. I want HPU to be a good neighbor to our local and area communities. God has blessed HPU by placing our university in Brownwood and I look forward to fostering and deepening our connections here.”

At every stage throughout his first day in office, Dr. Hines articulated his passion for HPU and the promise of what can be achieved through this vast but close-knit network of partnerships.

“This is very much a team effort that involves many, many people,” he says. “I’m eager for everyone to join us on this exciting journey. I look forward to all God has for us.”

On March 18, the university’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously in favor of Dr. Hines’ appointment as the 20th president in HPU’s 130-year history. That day he began working to conclude his responsibilities as vice president of enrollment at Dallas Baptist University and make the transition to HPU and Brownwood, all while eagerly looking to April 1 on his calendar.

With his first official day now behind him, Dr. Hines took a moment to catch his breath and express appreciation for all who took time to visit and help put the groundwork into place for this new era at HPU.

“Today has been busy, but what a wonderful day it was,” he said. “I’ll get a good night’s sleep tonight and be ready for another great day tomorrow.”


Photo #1 cutline: Dr. Cory Hines, HPU’s new president, visits with members of the local community during his first day in office.

Photo #2 cutline: Dr. Cory Hines gets to know HPU students at lunch.

Photo #3 cutline: On his way back to his office after a day full of meetings, two students invite Dr. Cory Hines to try Jacket Golf, a popular HPU pastime.

HPU Social Work Club to distribute free prom dresses to area high school students this Friday and Saturday

BROWNWOOD – April 1, 2019 – Howard Payne University’s Social Work Club will host its annual Project Cinderella this Friday and Saturday, April 5 and 6. Young women from area high schools are invited to stop by HPU’s Girling Center for Social Justice (1308 Austin Avenue) between 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Friday and 10 a.m. and noon on Saturday to choose from among the free, like-new prom dresses.

The Social Work Club aims to make this a fun experience for young women and their families by creating a boutique-like setting with music, fitting rooms and a large selection of stylish dresses.

“We’re excited to welcome high school students on HPU’s campus and help make prom a memorable experience for them,” said Toni Damron, assistant professor of social work.

For more information, contact Damron at


Cutline: Diana Torres (left), sophomore social work major from Houston, and Destiny Bible, junior social work major from Brownwood and member of the Social Work Club, display two of the dresses that will be available at HPU’s Project Cinderella event this weekend.

Details announced for HPU’s 2019 Yellow Rose Scholarship Luncheon

BROWNWOOD – March 28, 2019 – The Howard Payne University Woman’s Club will host its annual Yellow Rose Scholarship Luncheon on Thursday, April 11, with area businesses and individuals serving as sponsors for the popular event. The ticketed luncheon will begin at 11:30 a.m. in the Bullion Suites of HPU’s Mabee University Center.

The event is sponsored by Diamond Sponsor Sharon Guthrie; Gold Sponsors Big Country Ford and Sally Porter; and Blue Sponsors Bangs Flower and Gift Shop, Brownwood Regional Medical Center, Citizens National Bank, HPU’s Office of Alumni Relations, HPU’s Office of University Services, Willie’s T’s, Laura Benoit, Deborah Cartwright, Mary Johnson, Ann Jones, Sarah Stephens McAlpine, Jane Rodgers, Shannon Sims and Leslie Yeakley.

The guest speaker for this year’s luncheon is Pam Erickson, HPU alumna and author of “You First, Me Second … Getting to the Heart of Social Responsibility.” Erickson oversees Operation Blessing’s procurement and corporate relations staff in the daily acquisition of food, medical and relief supplies for both domestic and international programs. She has been a guest on “The 700 Club,” a chapel speaker for the Christian Broadcasting Network, a devotion leader for Regent University and a speaker for multiple women’s ministry events. She is on the cutting edge of creating ways to help companies meet their corporate social responsibility goals through community investment opportunities. Erickson holds a Bachelor of Science degree in physical education from HPU and a Master of Education degree from Regent University.

During the luncheon, the Woman’s Club will announce the recipient of the Yellow Rose Scholarship for the 2019-2020 academic year as well as honor one of the guests with the prestigious 2019 Yellow Rose Award.

Luncheon tickets are $25 and a limited number are available through April 4 or until sold out. For ticket information, call Nikki Donathan at 325-649-8013 or Sareta Delgado at 325-649-8048. Tickets are available at HPU’s Office of Alumni Relations at 703 Center Avenue as well as HPU’s Business Office at 1017 Fisk Street.


Cutline: Pam Erickson will be the guest speaker at the annual Yellow Rose Scholarship Luncheon, held by the HPU Woman’s Club on Thursday, April 11.

HPU’s School of Science and Mathematics hosts students from Goldthwaite’s Gifted and Talented STEM program

BROWNWOOD – March 21, 2019 – Students from Goldthwaite ISD’s Gifted and Talented (GT) Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program visited Howard Payne University’s Winebrenner Hall on in February. The students, ranging from first through eighth grade, had the opportunity to visit with HPU faculty members and students about the fields of chemistry, technology and engineering.

Dr. Hendra Tarigan, assistant professor of engineering science, and two engineering students met with the students about engineering.

“My two students asked the young students some questions,” he said. “One of them was ‘How many transistors are used in the latest version of a processor in a laptop?’ The young students knew the answer – billions. We were so happy to interact with the 20 young students. They have curious minds especially when it comes to STEM.”

Dr. Tarigan also mentioned another activity that was of particular interest.

“The two HPU engineering science students showed the GT students how a strain gauge can be utilized to determine the strain in a bending aluminum bar,” he said. “This, in turn, can determine the modulus of elasticity and Poisson’s ratio of such a metal.”

The students were also able to watch physical science demonstrations conducted by current and former students of Dr. Derek Smith, associate professor of chemistry.

“The GT students saw student-led demonstrations of extraction and analysis of flavor compounds from culantro, flame detection of metals and blood spatter analysis,” said Dr. Smith. “All the demonstrations were led by current students in chemistry or forensics classes at HPU.”

While on campus, the students also visited with Dr. Lester Towell, professor of computer information systems, about 3D printing.

“We talked about the future of technology and the need to incorporate new ideas and concepts into our daily lives,” he said. “The students were inquisitive and fearless, which are two of the primary requirements to excel in STEM.”


Cutline: Students from Goldthwaite ISD’s GT STEM program talked with Dr. Lester Towell about 3D printing technology.

HPU’s grounds crew assists City of Brownwood with garden bed project

BROWNWOOD – March 20, 2019 – Howard Payne University’s grounds crew recently helped the City of Brownwood and Keep Brownwood Beautiful with local efforts to clear garden beds at the traffic T near Highway 84 and Highway 377.

The project, which was overseen by Jon Ochoa, Brownwood’s city supervisor, involved removing some of the aging planting materials from the garden area.

“With the older plants gone, the city and Keep Brownwood Beautiful can go back in with new plants,” said Terry Pritchett, HPU’s assistant vice president for facilities and planning. “Our portion was to help them remove much of the old plants – grasses and roses mainly.”

Workers from the City of Brownwood were present for the project and HPU’s grounds crew worked to support their efforts.

“It is always a pleasure helping our City of Brownwood friends as they continuously improve their bedding areas,” said Pritchett. “We have developed a great relationship together and look forward to future collaborations.”


Cutline: HPU’s grounds crew works alongside City of Brownwood employees to clear garden beds at the traffic T near Highway 84 and Highway 377.

HPU’s Walker Memorial Library to host annual book sale

BROWNWOOD – March 19, 2019 – Howard Payne University’s Walker Memorial Library will host its annual book sale Friday, March 22, through Saturday, March 23. The sale will be open to the public from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Friday and 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday and will be hosted by the Friends of the Library group.

A large selection of books, including duplicate titles and books the library does not traditionally carry in the academic collection, will be available for purchase. The sale will also include a large selection of children’s books. Both paperbacks and hardcover books will be on sale for $1.00 with special items varying in price. All proceeds from the sale will help fund library improvements.

“This year we will have a wide variety of fiction, nonfiction and children’s materials,” said Deborah Dill, director of libraries and assistant professor of library science. “We received a few substantial book donations, so there will be lots of new items. We will also have copies of HPU annuals from years past.”

With proceeds from last year’s book sale, sponsored by the Friends of the Library, HPU was able to purchase two big glass marker boards for use in the library’s multipurpose room as well as a number of lamps with power outlets and USB charging ports for the multipurpose room and the reference room.

“The Friends of Walker Memorial Library is an inclusive group,” said Dill. “Students who spend time at the library working on assignments, faculty and staff who stop by to chat and check out books, alumni who make financial contributions to the library, Brownwood community members who bring in a box of books to donate and stay to view our displays – all of these are Friends to us and we are blessed to have so many.”

The Walker Memorial Library is located on Fisk Street on the HPU campus. For more information, call 325-649-8602 or send an e-mail to


Cutline: HPU’s Walker Memorial Library will host its annual book sale 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Friday, March 22, and 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 23.