Monthly News Archives: March 2016

HPU’s Symphonic Band and Concert Choir to present concert tours

BROWNWOOD – March 31, 2016 – Howard Payne University’s Symphonic Band and Concert Choir will each tour select schools and churches in western and central Texas in April. The band will travel Sunday, April 3, through Tuesday, April 5, on its spring concert tour and the choir will travel Friday, April 8, through Monday, April 11.

“We are always excited to be able to take the name of Howard Payne University and our Lord Jesus on tour through the musical talent of our students,” said Corey Ash, associate professor of music and director of bands. “We get to connect with prospective students, friends and HPU alumni, and we are proud to get to represent the university in this way.”

The band will present concerts at First Baptist Church in Brady, Taylor’s Valley Baptist Church in Temple, Llano High School, Burnet High School and Gatesville High School. Musical selections will include works by composers Frank Ticheli, Alfred Reed, James Swearingen and Camp Kirkland, as well as “Jesus Loves Me, It is Well” by Gene Currie.

“Music is the universal language,” said Ash. “It’s a blessing to be able to share it everywhere we go.”

This year’s tour will take the Concert Choir to Ballinger High School, Colonial Baptist Church in Snyder, Second Baptist Church in Lubbock, First Baptist Church in Stanton and Trinity Christian School in Midland. The program for the choir tour, titled “Lord, I Believe…,” will include works by Mary MacDonald, Thomas Tallis, Larry Shackley and Morton Lauridsen as well as spiritual arrangements by Jester Hairston, William L. Dawson and the team of Alice Parker and Robert Shaw. Additionally, the choir will sing a number of compositions by Sir John Rutter including movements from his famous “Requiem.”

According to Dr. Gregory Church, associate professor of music and director and conductor of the Concert Choir, the concert is loosely based on the five sections of the Catholic Mass: “Kyrie,” “Gloria,” “Credo,” “Sanctus” and “Agnus Dei.”

“We are looking forward to the tour very much,” he said. “These types of choir tours accomplish a number of goals such as recruiting for the university and the music department, connecting with alumni and friends around the state and sharing wonderful music.”

On tour with the Concert Choir will be the Heritage Singers, conducted and directed by Dr. Celeste Church, associate professor of music and dean of institutional research and effectiveness.

After the groups return, a final choir tour concert will be presented on Tuesday, April 12, at First Baptist Church in Brownwood. The free concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. and the public is encouraged to attend.

For more information, contact HPU’s School of Music and Fine Arts at 325-649-8500.

TSHOF inductee Ken Gray reflects on life at HPU, in the NFL and beyond

By Abram Choate, assistant athletic director for sports information and game administration

A version of this article originally appeared in HPU’s Link magazine.

BROWNWOOD – March 31, 2016 – Recent Texas Sports Hall of Fame inductee Ken Gray had great success on the football field for Howard Payne University and the National Football League, but he says what he went through at Howard Payne really made him who he is.

Grays at exhibitGray and seven others comprised the Class of 2016 inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame on February 2. The Waco institution houses displays of more than 300 Texas sports legends.

“It’s one thing to make all-district, all-conference, all-pro or all-anything,” says Gray. “But to receive recognition from your peers – to be inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame – it’s icing on the cake.”

Gray says he’s very sincere in being appreciative of everything Howard Payne has meant in his life.

“I know how indebted I am to Howard Payne for the university’s share of the recognition,” he says.

Grays with HPU representativesBorn in San Saba County to a father who was a heavy-equipment operator during World War II, the Gray family moved around central and west Texas before finally settling in the Llano area. There, Gray became an outstanding high school player.

At a basketball practice during his senior year, 1954, Gray was introduced to Jack Brewer, who was an assistant football coach at HPU. Coach Brewer asked if Gray liked to play football and if he would like to play at Howard Payne.

“‘Yes, sir, I sure would,’” Gray remembers replying. “‘Do you understand I am married and have a child?’”

Not only did Brewer understand, HPU had an opportunity for a job for Gray and a home for the young family.

In the fall of 1954, Gray played his first game as a Yellow Jacket. Howard Payne was handily beating the other team and Gray was put in on defense. Coach Brewer did not like the way he was lining up and asked him what he was doing.

“I guess he thought I was being lazy,” Gray says. “It broke my heart. I thought I would just get on the bus and go back to Llano.”

Coach Brewer then came over to the bench and put his arm around Gray.

Gray at HPU“He said, ‘Ken, I’m sorry. It will never happen again,’” Gray recalls. “From then on, I would die for him. That was my introduction to Howard Payne football.

“Coach Brewer was a great, great man. He got the most out of everybody, he was fair and he made men out of a lot of us. I still tear up when I think about him.”

The Howard Payne coaching staff made practices very tough. At that time, the team included several veterans of the Korean War.

“So when an 18-year-old went against a 25-, 26- or even a 29-year-old, you had to battle,” he says. “The things I went through at Howard Payne really made me who I am.”

As a husband and father at HPU, Gray did not have time for much beyond family, football and work. However, he found support among the team’s other married players.

“There were other players who were married with families, so there were others going through the same things,” he says. “All the older guys kind of put an arm around you to take care of you and teach you. Jack Browning and Joe James were older players. Harold Garms was a former service guy.”

Gray graduated from Howard Payne in 1958 with a degree in history and education. He finished Howard Payne as a four-year letterman (1954-1957), where he was All-Lone Star Conference and named to the Little All-American team.

He went on to be drafted in the sixth round (as the 62nd overall pick) of the NFL draft by the Green Bay Packers in 1958 before earning a spot with the Chicago Cardinals. The team eventually moved to St. Louis.

Gray is one of 17 players in Howard Payne history to be drafted into the NFL and one of approximately 30 Yellow Jackets to have played in the NFL or Canadian Football League.

“When I went from Howard Payne to Green Bay, I really could not believe it. This is pro football,” he says.

However, after his experiences playing at Howard Payne, he was prepared.

“The practices were not really that hard. I found making that jump was really easy.”

In an NFL career that spanned 13 seasons, Gray was named an NFL Pro Bowl guard for the St. Louis Cardinals seven times. He would be named consensus All-Pro six times (1963, 1965-1969) and was honored as a First-Team selection twice during that time. He finished his professional career as a Houston Oiler in 1970.

Gray returned to Llano High School as head football coach from 1973 to 1975.

“That turned out to be the most fun I ever had,” he says. “I got to coach my son who turned out to be an All-State player.”

He then spent the 1977-1978 seasons as the Denver Broncos’ offensive line coach. Since then, Gray has become a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and Howard Payne University Sports Halls of Fame.

Gray now lives in Kingsland, Texas, with Shirley, his wife of 62 years. He has fond recollections of his days as a student-athlete at HPU.

“The memories are not so much of what happened on the field but the relationships I had with all the players,” he says. “Howard Payne is the kind of place where you can get a good education along with a dose of character building.”


Photo cutlines: Ken and Shirley Gray stand in front of Ken’s display at the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in Waco.

The Grays are pictured with HPU representatives following Ken’s induction into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame. Left to right: Abram Choate, HPU’s assistant athletic director for sports information and game administration; Ken Gray; Shirley Gray; and Stephen Sullivan, HPU’s director of development and alumni relations.

Ken Gray is pictured as a football player at HPU.

HPU’s Sigma Beta Delta honor society inducts 12 new members

Sigma Beta Delta 2016BROWNWOOD – March 30, 2016 – Howard Payne University’s chapter of the Sigma Beta Delta International Business Honor Society recently inducted 12 new members into its organization. Jonathan Snow, member of HPU’s Board of Trustees and 2006 graduate, was the keynote speaker for the event.

Inductees included Taylor Armstrong, senior from Coleman; Katie Ash, junior from Brownwood; Hannah Ball, junior from Justin; Blake Biessener, senior from Brownwood; Michael Hazard, junior from Sweetwater; Zachary Eller, senior from Temple; Regina Fleming, senior from Brownwood; Thomas Givan, senior from Early; Jody Loudamy, senior from Goldthwaite; Ely Self, senior from Ballinger; and Austin Throckmorton, junior from Early. Additionally, Dr. Jim Finch, HPU professor of business administration, was inducted as the chapter’s next president.

Snow, who graduated from HPU with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree, spoke to the inductees and audience about the power of self-affirmation and its benefits through confidence and professionalism. He is a professional clothier for Tom James Company in Dallas.

“We’re very grateful that Mr. Snow took time out of his busy schedule to speak at our event,” said Dr. Trissa Cox, outgoing chapter president. “His presentation was very powerful and a good reminder for all of us in attendance.”

Sigma Beta Delta was founded as a national organization in 1994 for NCAA Division III universities and is accredited by the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education. HPU’s chapter received its charter in 1999.

In addition to Dr. Cox and Dr. Finch, chapter officers include Dr. Debra Powell, assistant professor of business and vice president, and Mike Dillard, assistant professor of business administration and secretary/treasurer.

For more information, contact HPU’s School of Business at (325) 649-8704.


Photo cutline: HPU’s chapter of the Sigma Beta Delta International Business Honor Society recently inducted 12 new members. The inductees are pictured with faculty from HPU’s School of Business who serve as chapter officers. Standing, left to right: Dr. Trissa Cox, Mike Dillard, Ely Self, Katie Ash, Hannah Ball, Michael Hazard, Caleb Throckmorton, Dr. Debra Powell and Dr. Jim Finch.

Seated, left to right: Taylor Armstrong, Blake Biessener, Regina Fleming, Thomas Givan and Jody Loudamy. Not pictured: Zachary Eller.

Christian-music artists to headline HPU Fest 2016

HPU Fest 2016BROWNWOOD – March 30, 2016 – HPU Fest, Howard Payne University’s annual outdoor music festival, will kick off Saturday, April 9, at 3 p.m. with a full day’s worth of music, food and activities. This year’s headliners are Josh Wilson and Jason Gray with special guest JJ Heller. The lineup also includes Love and War, Atlas Mason and Sun City. HPU students James King, freshman from McGregor, and Joshua Varnes, freshman from Universal City, will also perform.

In addition to HPU students and personnel, the community is welcome to attend. HPU Fest will take place at the university’s Old Main Park, the grassy area along Austin Avenue. There is no charge for admission.

HPU’s Student Activities Council and various organizations on campus will put together a number of booths and activities including inflatables, cotton candy and the annual HPU Fest Chili Cook-Off. Prizes will be awarded for hottest chili and tastiest chili.

Sodexo, HPU’s food service provider, will also serve a meal that can be purchased with a student ID card, cash or check.

“HPU Fest is one of the most popular student events on campus,” said Francie Clark, director of student activities. “The community is welcome to join us for this free and fun event.”


HPU alumna named Teacher of the Year at Duncanville’s Central Elementary

Amanda TaylorBROWNWOOD – March 29, 2016 – Howard Payne University alumna Amanda (Hendrix) Taylor was recently named Teacher of the Year at Central Elementary School in Duncanville. Taylor, who teaches visual arts, graduated from HPU in 2012 with a degree in art education.

Taylor has taught for three years, with all three of those years spent at Central Elementary. She piloted the art program for the school and teaches approximately 600 students in kindergarten through fourth grade. In addition to a busy teaching schedule, she volunteers with after-school tutoring, assists with organizing fundraisers and helps decorate the school for special events.

“I am truly honored and humbled to have been chosen by our faculty as Teacher of the Year,” said Taylor. “It means the world to me that they see what I do as important and essential to the life of a child. I love to see my students blossom as they discover new things about themselves and their abilities in the art room.”

Dr. Daresa Voss, interim dean of HPU’s School of Education, was delighted to learn of Taylor’s award.

“Amanda has accomplished so much in just three short years of teaching,” she said. “I’m excited to see the directions in which her career will lead her.”


Photo cutline: HPU alumna Amanda Taylor was recently named Teacher of the Year at Central Elementary School in Duncanville.

HPU criminal justice students to get hands-on training with mock crime scene

BROWNWOOD – March 29, 2016 – Howard Payne University’s criminal justice program will conduct exercises as part of its Criminal Justice Investigations class on Friday, April 1, at 10:30 a.m. During this time, there will be crime scene tape, emergency vehicles and other normal police operations one would expect to see at a major crime scene. The event will be held at HPU’s campus location at the corner of Austin and Coggin Avenues in Brownwood.

Dr. Paul Lilly, chief of HPU’s Department of Public Safety (DPS) and assistant professor of criminal justice, said the community should not be alarmed at the proceedings.

“This is a staged event to help the students learn the many processes involved with investigating a crime scene,” he said.

The HPU DPS will again join the criminal justice program and its students in helping make the crime scene as realistic as possible. In addition to hands-on experience for the students, the DPS uses this scenario exercise each year to aid in providing the DPS officers with regular ongoing in-service training to help them remain current with modern technologies and procedures.

For more information, contact HPU’s Department of Public Safety at (325) 649-8609.

HPU names Coach Hunter Sims university’s athletic director

Hunter SimsBROWNWOOD – March 29, 2016 – Howard Payne University announced today that Hunter Sims, head football coach, has been named athletic director for the university. Sims will serve a dual role as coach and athletic director beginning in fall 2016 and will report to Dr. Magen Bunyard, vice president for student life and dean of students.

Sims was named head football coach at the end of the fall 2015 semester. He additionally served three years as an assistant at HPU before being promoted to offensive coordinator and assistant head coach in 2012.

Sims’ offenses have been some of the best in the American Southwest Conference, setting a new HPU record for total offense in a game last season with 720 yards in a 54-53 road victory. He has coached current HPU career record-holder for field goals Joshua Martinez and wide receiver standout Colby Mica, who recently broke the HPU career receptions record.

Sims is a 2007 graduate of McMurry University with a degree in education and a minor in history. In 2010, he finished a master’s degree in sports management. As a player, Sims was a three-year letterman and two-time Academic All-Conference selection at quarterback at McMurry. After his college playing career was over, he served as a student assistant working with wide receivers and quarterbacks.

During his tenure at HPU, Sims has served as president of the Staff Council as well as on the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) Leadership Board. He has worked football camps around the state and spent extensive time working with the FCA as a camp counselor. He and his wife, Shannon, have two children, Sage and Finn.

Dr. Bill Ellis, HPU president, said Sims’ dedication to his sport is admirable but not to be compared with his devotion to God and his commitment to the students he coaches.

“Coach Sims’ priority is not just to win games, but to be a godly example in the lives of the young men he coaches,” said Dr. Ellis. “For this reason and many more, I am confident that he will do fantastic work as HPU’s next athletic director.”


Photo cutline: Hunter Sims, head football coach at HPU, has been named the university’s next athletic director.

HPU’s Walker Memorial Library to host book sale

Erin Buergner LibraryBROWNWOOD – March 28, 2016 – Howard Payne University’s Walker Memorial Library, through the Friends of the Library, will host a book sale Thursday, March 31, and Friday, April 1. The sale is open to the community with hours of 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. both days.

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. Paperbacks and hardcover books will range from $.50 to $1 with rare books varying in price. All proceeds will benefit students through library improvements.

“This sale gives us a chance to connect with the community, and I am looking forward to showing the public around our library while they browse through the books,” said Alexia Riggs, dean of libraries at HPU.

The goal of the Friends of the Library group is to promote interest in the library and support for its collections and programs. Anyone is welcome to join with memberships ranging from $10 to $100.

“The Friends of the Library group is engaged in a project focused on providing new tools for student learning,” said Riggs. “Proceeds from last year’s sale benefited students by providing the funds for an 80-inch flat panel monitor in our new multipurpose room. This new space gives students a place to collaborate and work on projects inside the library.”

For more information, contact HPU’s Walker Memorial Library at (325) 649-8602 or

Cutline: Erin Buergner, HPU junior from Austin, sorts books for the upcoming library book sale.

HPU music faculty to present recital

BROWNWOOD – March 28, 2016 – Three of Howard Payne University’s School of Music and Fine Arts faculty will present a recital Friday, April 1, at 7:30 p.m. The recital is free to the public and will be held in the university’s Grace Chapel.

“Everyone is welcome to come enjoy this wonderful evening of music,” said Kevin Winter, new adjunct instructor of French horn. “Selections will include works by Schubert, Francaix, Davies and Britten.”

In addition to Winter, faculty members performing include Dr. Elizabeth Wallace, professor of music and chair of the Department of Music, and Dr. Gregory Church, associate professor of music. Dr. Wallace will perform on the piano, Dr. Church will sing tenor and Winter will perform on the French horn.

“Mr. Winter is a welcome new addition to our faculty as he brings an extremely refined level of artistic performance to his work in the studio and on stage,” said Dr. Richard Fiese, dean of the School of Music and Fine Arts and professor of music. “Hearing him perform with Dr. Wallace and Dr. Church on our campus is a wonderful opportunity for our community to hear music-making of the highest order.”

For more information, contact HPU’s School of Music and Fine Arts at 325-649-8500.