Monthly News Archives: December 2013

HPU Moot Court students named regional champs, advance to nationals

Moot CourtBROWNWOOD – December 18, 2013 – Howard Payne University recently dominated the Southwestern Regional Moot Court Championship at Baylor University Law School, with an HPU team beating the top team from Texas A&M University in the final round. Katie Rose Bonner, a junior from Lytle, and Elizabeth Rogers, a senior from Grand Junction, Colo., were named Southwestern Regional Champions and received an automatic invitation to the National Championship of Intercollegiate Moot Court on January 17-18, at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University.

An additional HPU team comprised of Cayden McDonald, a senior from Whitehouse, and Christopher Mitchell, a junior from Pecos, advanced to quarter-finals and later received an invitation to compete in the national competition as well.

Awards were given to the top 10 speakers at the competition, including Bonner, Rogers and McDonald. This is a further testament to their practice and preparation, according to their sponsor Lorianna Kelley, assistant professor of political science at HPU.

“I am extremely proud of the hard work and dedication the students have demonstrated over the course of the semester, evidenced by the results at this most recent tournament,” she said. “Most of our team was new to moot court, and had no prior exposure to this form of oral advocacy. This did not stop them from besting more seasoned teams.”

Undergraduate moot court competitions simulate the experience of arguing a case before the United States Supreme Court. According to the American Collegiate Moot Court Association’s website, teams that finish in the top 20 percent of each regional event earn an automatic bid to the national tournament.

Also competing from HPU were Zachary Eller, a freshman from Temple; Zachary Gafford, a senior from Brownwood; Colton McCabe, a junior from Gatesville; and Ryan Young, a senior from Mesquite.

Dr. Justin D. Murphy, Brand professor of history, dean of the School of Humanities, and director of the Guy D. Newman Honors Academy, said he is also pleased with the successes of the Moot Court team.

“I am especially proud of Professor Kelley’s role in leading the team,” he said. “She is an outstanding asset to HPU and the Moot Court program.”


Photo cutline: Eight HPU students recently competed at the Southwestern Regional Moot Court Championship at Baylor University Law School, with four advancing to the national championships in January. Left to right: Elizabeth Rogers, champion; Katie Rose Bonner, champion; Cayden McDonald, quarterfinalist; and Christopher Mitchell, quarterfinalist.

First student graduates from HPU’s New Braunfels Center

Dan Pryor and Matt MorganBROWNWOOD – December 17, 2013 – Matt Morgan of New Braunfels, who serves as the information technology manager at the Capital Area Council of Governments in Austin, was the first graduate of the Howard Payne University New Braunfels Center. He received his Master of Business Administration degree during the university’s Commencement ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 14, in Brownwood.

Morgan completed the program in just one year, taking courses solely at night and on weekends.

“I always wanted to get my master’s degree,” he said. “I’ve worked in the public sector for almost 18 years now, and I figured an MBA would give me that cutting edge should I decide to venture off into the private sector.”

Morgan also wanted to set an example for his daughter, Riley Rose, a middle school student.

“I feel I’ve done my best and I hope she always remembers to never give up and to seize opportunities,” he said. “You are never too old to keep learning. My daughter and my wife, Debbie, have been extremely supportive and helpful to me this past year.”

Morgan attended other universities during his undergraduate career, but said none offered the type of relationships he found at HPU.

“The effect that support from others can have on your endeavors is really amazing, and even more so when it’s coming from instructors and staff,” he said. “I never felt like just a number at Howard Payne.”

In addition to working full time and completing his degree, Morgan also plays accordion for Poor J. Brown, a band out of New Braunfels and San Antonio.
“I’ve received an enormous amount of support from my family, my parents, my in-laws and my bandmates,” he said. “It’s a wonderful feeling to realize people support you.”
Morgan said he enjoyed the convenience of obtaining his master’s degree in New Braunfels.

“I would highly recommend the HPU MBA program to those thinking of continuing their education,” he said. “The convenience is unmatched. Classes were scheduled so that they did not interfere with my work schedule and the location was perfect. For anyone in the New Braunfels area the convenience of not having to drive to Austin, San Antonio or San Marcos is worth it alone – not to mention parking!”

Most of all, he said, he loved the overall experience the program offered.

“I had a great group of professors who were all very involved and very accommodating as I balanced my career and family life while working towards my MBA,” he said. “I feel very lucky to have gone through the program with the group of students that started with me. There are about 12 of us and every individual brought something to the table from which we could all learn. We had some great group projects and discussions that could have lasted all night had we let them. It’s a really close knit group and I’m sure we will all continue to maintain our friendships long after everyone completes their MBA degrees.”

The HPU New Braunfels Center office is located at 1423 N. Walnut Ave., Suite 105. Until HPU’s permanent campus is constructed as part of the Veramendi development project, courses are being offered at New Braunfels High School, at the Aflac Suite (1259 Loop 337 North, Suite #200) and online. For more information, visit or call (830) 629-2366.


Photo cutline: Matt Morgan, right, received his Master of Business Administration degree during the HPU Commencement ceremony held on Dec. 14 in Brownwood. He is pictured with Dr. Dan Pryor, assistant professor of business.

HPU social work students get first-hand lessons in poverty

Poverty SimulationBROWNWOOD – December 17, 2013 – Five Howard Payne University social work students recently participated in Mission Waco’s Poverty Simulation, a weekend experience created to challenge students to “see the world through different eyes.”

Dan Humeniuk, assistant professor of social work and chair of HPU’s criminal justice, social work and sociology department, has had a class participate in Poverty Simulation for the past five years.

“More than 15 percent of the American population lives below the poverty line,” he said, referencing U.S. Census Bureau statistics. “We’re increasingly becoming a society in which there is a great division between those who are economically disadvantaged and those who have substantial resources.”

Approximately 50 individuals participated in this year’s simulation, a safe experience designed to increase empathy for those living in poverty. In addition to planned activities, participants slept outdoors and experienced what it is like to find meals with very little money.

According to Humeniuk, these activities promote compassion for those who are less fortunate.

“The Bible addresses our responsibilities as Christians toward those who are struggling,” he said.

Rebekah Steadman, a junior social work major from Fort Worth, was one of two students who returned to Poverty Simulation a second year, despite only being required to participate once.

“I learned something different each time that I participated in the simulation,” she said. “This year, the great lesson that affected me was the importance of relationships and community. We met many people in poverty and heard many stories throughout the weekend that brought the truths of poverty to life. The one thing all the people had in common was that they lacked material possessions but were rich in their relationships with one another. It is a beautiful lesson we all must learn whether we are in poverty or not. How valuable are our relationships and friendships to us versus our material possessions?”

Humeniuk said social work is a “spiritual calling.”

“A social worker’s life’s goal is not to make a lot of money,” he said. “A social worker is more concerned with doing something rather than being somebody.”

Said Steadman, “Those who are impoverished should not be ignored by those of us who have been blessed to give and have the knowledge of how to do so. This simulation truly opens a person’s heart and eyes to the everyday lives of people in poverty and all the extreme struggles they face to survive.”

In addition to Steadman, other students on the trip included Shannon Bundy, a senior from Port Aransas; Jeffery Fennell, a junior from Converse; Jessica Ferrell-Raborn, a senior from Salado; and Paula Johnson, a junior from Spring.


Photo cutline: Five HPU students and a faculty member recently participated in Mission Waco’s Poverty Simulation. Left to right: Dan Humeniuk, Jessica Ferrell-Raborn, Shannon Bundy, Paula Johnson, Jeffery Fennell and Rebekah Steadman.

HPU students receive Outstanding Delegation Award at Stockholm MUN Conference

swenson and fordBy Kendyl Moore, HPU senior

BROWNWOOD – December 16, 2013– Howard Payne University students Kerrie Ford, a senior from Houston, and Erik Swenson, a senior from Carrollton, received the Outstanding Delegation Award for the Security Council at the Stockholm Model United Nations Conference in November. Ten HPU students from the Model United Nations team traveled to Stockholm, Sweden, for a week to attend the conference, themed “National Sovereignty, Human Rights and Responsibility to Protect.”

Three of the UN’s councils were simulated at the Stockholm conference, including the Security Council, Human Rights Council and the Economic and Social Council. The conference also had a Historical Security Council.

Students were in council sessions for three-and-a-half days. They also attended a series of lectures and events hosted by the conference.

Following the Stockholm conference, the Secretariat of the Rome Model United Nations called Dr. Justin D. Murphy, Brand professor of history, dean of the School of Humanities, and director of the Guy D. Newman Honors Academy, to offer HPU the opportunity to represent the Russian Federation or Australia at the Rome Model UN Conference in March. The invitation is the result of the HPU Model UN team’s success – especially that of Ford and Swenson – at Stockholm. HPU has accepted the invitation and Ford and Swenson will serve on the Security Council.

“This is one of the largest Model UN Conferences in Europe with approximately 1,500 university students participating,” Dr. Murphy said. “Our performance as Stockholm is clearly paying dividends.”

In addition to Ford and Swenson, HPU participants included Ashley Chapman, a sophomore from Ennis; Caleb McConnell, a junior from Burleson; Kendyl Moore, a senior from Farmington, N.M.; Jason Murphy, a junior from Brownwood; Ivy Nichols, a sophomore from Richardson; Adrianna Perez, a junior from Rowlett; Cody Perrin, a freshman from Eastland; and Jessica Ramirez, a senior from Bangs.

Faculty sponsors were Dr. Murphy, Dr. Matthew McNiece, associate professor of history and political science, Burress Chair of History, chair of the history, political science and geography department and assistant director of the Newman Honors Academy, and Jennifer McNiece, assistant professor of political science, Brand Chair of Free Enterprise and Public Policy and director of international study and academic travel.


Photo cutline: HPU students Erik Swenson, left, and Kerrie Ford were named Outstanding Delegates on the Security Council at the Model United Nations Conference in Stockholm, Sweden.

HPU announces holiday schedule

BROWNWOOD – December 16, 2013 – Howard Payne University will be closed Thursday, Dec. 19, through Wednesday, Jan. 1, in observance of the Christmas and New Year’s Day holidays. Offices will reopen on Thursday, Jan. 2.

HPU’s Office of Institutional Advancement, located at 803 Center Ave., will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 26, and Tuesday, Dec. 31, to process end-of-the-year gifts. The Office of Institutional Advancement may be reached at (325) 649-8006 or (800) 950-8465.

HPU’s spring 2014 semester begins Monday, Jan. 13.

HPU’s December Commencement scheduled for Saturday

BROWNWOOD – December 11, 2013 – Howard Payne University will hold its Commencement ceremony this Saturday, Dec. 14, at the Brownwood Coliseum beginning at 10 a.m.

Dr. Bill Ellis, university president, and other university representatives will confer 63 undergraduate and graduate degrees. The Honorable J.D. Sheffield, D.O., State Representative for District 59 and family medicine doctor at Hillcrest Clinic in Gatesville, will deliver the charge to the graduates. He is a 1984 HPU graduate.

Among the students receiving diplomas will be Matthew Morgan, the first student to graduate from HPU’s New Braunfels Center. Morgan will receive a Master of Business Administration degree.

Additional program participants include: Corey Ash ’92, associate professor of music and director of bands; Dr. Donnie Auvenshine ’75, dean of the School of Christian Studies and professor of Christian studies; Rev. Darrel Glen Beggs ’81, pastor of Central Baptist Church in Hillsboro; Rev. David Cozart ’96, president of HPU’s Alumni Association and minister of education/administration at Meadowbrook Baptist Church in Waco; William Colton Curry, graduating senior; Dr. Gary Gramling ’81, director of the graduate program in youth ministry and professor of Christian studies; Dr. Justin Murphy, dean of the School of Humanities, professor of history and director of the Guy D. Newman Honors Academy; Dr. Lois Patton, director of the graduate program in business administration and professor of business administration; Dr. Leslie Plagens, dean of the School of Business and professor of business administration; Carter Sharpe, second vice chairman of the HPU Board of Trustees; Dr. W. Mark Tew, provost; Jan Tucker, former instructor of education; Lana Wagner ’97, registrar; Dr. Julie Welker ’94, faculty president, professor of communication and chair of the Department of Communication Studies; and the HPU Instrumental Ensemble.

The Commencement ceremony will be preceded on Friday, Dec. 13, by Chime Out, an HPU tradition in which graduating seniors pass a chain of ivy to underclassmen, symbolizing the passing of authority, responsibility and privileges to those students who remain on campus to carry on the traditions of the university. Chime Out begins at 6 p.m. at the university’s Mims Auditorium.

HPU honors Dr. Leonard Underwood for service to the university

Ellis and UnderwoodBROWNWOOD – December 11, 2013 – Howard Payne University recognized Brownwood businessman Dr. Leonard Underwood, a member of the Guy D. Newman Honors Academy Board of Directors, for attending his 50th Academy Board Meeting.

Dr. Bill Ellis, HPU president, presented Dr. Underwood with the Douglas MacArthur Freedom Medal, given by the Academy to honor individuals who share Dr. Guy D. Newman’s vision of promoting Judeo-Christian values, our Western heritage and the free enterprise system.

Previously the Douglas MacArthur Academy of Freedom, the program was founded in 1962 under the leadership of Dr. Newman, who served as president of the university from 1955 to 1973.

Dr. Justin Murphy, dean of HPU’s School of Humanities, is the director of the Newman Honors Academy.

“Dr. Underwood has been instrumental in supporting the Academy’s Moot Court and Model United Nations programs,” said Dr. Murphy.

Dr. Underwood, an active civic supporter, also serves on the HPU Board of Trustees.

“Dr. Underwood has exhibited exemplary leadership not only at HPU but across the Brownwood community,” said Dr. Ellis. “We are proud to recognize him for his service.”


Photo cutline: Dr. Bill Ellis, left, presents Dr. Leonard Underwood with the Douglas MacArthur Freedom Medal.

HPU’s Kelley addresses International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education

Kevin KelleyBROWNWOOD – December 5, 2013 – Dr. Kevin Kelley, assistant professor of industrial/organizational psychology at Howard Payne University, recently presented at the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE) Fall Region VI Conference held in Dallas. The topic for Dr. Kelley’s presentation was “Employer Expectations for College Graduates.”

“Dr. Kelley presented several key insights on how college business programs can prepare their graduates for today’s dynamic business environment,” said Dr. Les Plagens, dean of HPU’s School of Business. “His experience in assessing managerial talent provided the conference participants an opportunity to discuss implications for learning outcomes for various business programs.”

Dr. Kelley teaches in the psychology and business administration departments at HPU. He also serves as a consultant/partner in the business development firm TAD (Talent Assessment and Development). Most recently, he has worked in organizational strategy and change management at Apple and IBM.

IACBE is the specialized accrediting body for six business programs at HPU. There are more than 250 institutions worldwide with business programs accredited by IACBE.


Photo cutline: Dr. Kevin Kelley, assistant professor of industrial/organizational psychology at HPU, recently addressed the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education.