The Student Experience
Howard Payne University is committed to developing students to understand what the words of Ephesians 2:10 mean to them. Students must recognize that they are God’s workmanship, created in Him to do good works, which He has prepared in advance for them to do. The student experience will be one that shapes their academic pursuits, nurtured in a community of relationships and in a supportive environment. The goal of the student experience is to help students discern their callings and to prepare them academically, spiritually, and vocationally as confident leaders ready to make a Kingdom impact. We believe strongly that the world today needs the kind of college graduates that HPU produces.
BUILDING ON THE ROCK TO IMPROVE THE STUDENT EXPERIENCE
From 2019-2022, the campus has been a whirlwind of positive improvement and growth.
Nearly $2.3 million in campus improvements have updated residence halls and apartments, created community spaces for students to gather, renovated classrooms, and upgraded athletic facilities. During the 2022-2023 academic year, an additional $5 million in projects will continue athletic upgrades, improve living and dining spaces, and complete the Douglas MacArthur Academy of Freedom renovation. While we agree that much more needs to be done, these investments are exciting for the campus community and a good beginning for what is to come.
In 2022, the University opened a new $4 million front door for prospective students and visitors, The Newbury Family Welcome Center. This state-of-the-art facility includes several spaces to not only welcome new families to HPU, but also host meetings and gatherings for both on- and off-campus groups.
The financial health of HPU received a boost from several key financial decisions that have resulted in the University finishing in the black for three straight years. In addition, the fundraising of the University has enjoyed three years of significant increase in giving with 2021-2022 setting a record for gifts received. Since 2019, the endowment has grown from $65 million to over $75 million. The turnaround in the financial health of HPU has been so stark that Forbes magazine awarded the University a grade of A-, making HPU the first-ranked private university in Texas ahead of schools like Rice and SMU. In addition, HPU’s financial health has afforded a 6% raise across the board for employees over the last two years.
During this period, the emphasis has been to improve the student experience. As part of this effort, the student life area received many changes including the vice president’s title from vice president of student life to vice president of student experience. In addition, a new position titled director of professional development and experiential learning was added. Furthermore, a $200,000 grant was secured to inaugurate the annual William B. Dean, M.D. Lecture Series and Community Impact Day, during which students, faculty and staff spread throughout Brown County in service projects.
On that note, HPU has adopted the mindset that “what is good for HPU is good for Brownwood and vice versa.” An emphasis on building strong community relationships has been a priority. In fall 2019, the Universitybegan hosting an annual Community Leadership Lunch and Learn for community business and organizational leaders to attend a seminar on leadership development.
The University has enjoyed growth in the School of Nursing, graduating their first class of nurses in May 2021. Several businesses, healthcare organizations, and foundations have partnered with the School of Nursing to provide over $350,000 in scholarships and equipment. HPU recently launched a new software engineering program that has already involved students in securing patents for new inventions. The University also continues to regularly bring home top honors in academic competitions in Speech and Debate, Moot Court, and Model United Nations.
In enrollment efforts, Howard Payne secured guaranteed acceptance agreements with all seven Brown County ISDs, developed a scholarship for dual credit students called the Head Start Scholarship, created a church-matching scholarship, and initiated an aggressive campaign to recruit sophomores in addition to juniors and seniors in high school. With retention, a committee was appointed that resulted in new initiatives, including a commitment to campus-wide utilization of Connections, a software that alerts retention officers of students in need of assistance academically or personally.
In athletics, student-athletes continue to excel in the classroom with many being recognized for earning a GPA of 3.0 or higher. The athletic department signed a five-year rolling contract with Nike and Jordan, powered by BSN, which is a strong recruiting draw to HPU for students. The Yellow Jacket football team enjoyed a 7-3 season, their best record since 2005. Furthermore, the athletic program welcomed three alumni of the University as head coaches.
These accomplishments underscore the solid foundation upon which HPU stands strong. They also foreshadow what has become somewhat of a motto: “HPU’s best days are ahead.” These “best days” are what HPU strives to achieve through the development of this new strategic plan.