News Archives

More than 2,000 meals served during annual Thanksgiving feast at HPU

BROWNWOOD – December 6, 2019 – More than 2,300 meals were served during the 36th annual Community Thanksgiving Feast, held at Howard Payne University’s Mabee University Center on Thanksgiving Day. Nearly 600 meals were served on campus, while volunteers delivered more than 1,700 meals in the Brownwood and Early areas to those unable to join friends and neighbors at HPU.

Bill Fishback, an organizer of the event and associate vice president for business and human resources at HPU, thanked the more than 550 volunteers and donors who helped make the meal possible.

“The thoughtfulness of these donors and volunteers helped bring countless smiles to those who enjoyed the meal, as well as to those who served it,” Fishback said. “This meal could not have happened without these volunteers’ and donors’ support. Special thanks also goes to our Sodexo food service staff, including General Manager Jeff Hammeken and Chef James Gilbert, for planning and preparing the delicious meals enjoyed by a record number of guests this year.”

To help support future Thanksgiving meals, please make checks payable to the “Community Thanksgiving Feast,” and send them to Bill Fishback, Howard Payne University, 1000 Fisk Street, Suite 210, Brownwood, Texas 76801.


Cutline: The 36th annual Community Thanksgiving Feast was hosted at Howard Payne University.

Howard Payne University thanks donors for overwhelming response on GivingTuesday

BROWNWOOD – December 5, 2019 – Howard Payne University expresses gratitude to its supporters for surpassing the institution’s goals for GivingTuesday, the global day of giving held annually on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. With a total of $68,303 received on December 3, HPU raised more than triple its goal of $20,000 and received gifts from 177 donors, 77 more than the university’s goal.

“HPU was blessed by a strong showing of support from alumni and friends,” said Dr. Dale Meinecke, vice president for development. “There’s an excitement for the university’s new direction and a heightened sense that HPU’s best days are ahead. The response by both regular givers and many new donors shows that people want to be involved in something bigger than themselves.”

Dr. Meinecke noted that, on social media, numerous alumni shared heartfelt reflections on HPU’s positive impact on their lives academically, professionally and spiritually.

“They encouraged fellow alumni and university friends to give in order to secure these same life-changing experiences for the next generation of Christ-centered servant leaders,” he said.

Donors had the opportunity to give to HPU’s Annual Fund, student scholarships, campus improvements and the renovation of the Douglas MacArthur Academy of Freedom building, which houses the university’s prestigious Guy D. Newman Honors Academy.

“There’s a clear vision right now as directed by our new president, Dr. Cory Hines, and our Board of Trustees that makes it easy for donors to connect one of their passions with God’s purposes for HPU,” Dr. Meinecke said. “There was also motivation for supporters to give because of a $10,000 matching gift and then an additional $5,000 matching gift. With the matching gifts, every dollar given was doubled up to $30,000.”

HPU’s communication to prospective donors in advance of GivingTuesday emphasized how all gifts, regardless of size, would benefit students.

“The gifts from our donors will go to secure HPU as an outstanding academic community where students can retreat to the heart of Texas and receive a genuinely Christ-centered, quality higher education,” said Dr. Hines. “With these funds, we will be able to offer more scholarships to students and improve learning and living spaces that will enhance the student experience. We are also grateful for those who gave toward renovating the Douglas MacArthur Academy of Freedom building, home of the Guy D. Newman Honors Academy, which equips and trains many of HPU’s best and brightest students. We are truly grateful to every donor who partnered with us to make this day a huge win for our students.”

GivingTuesday began in 2012 as a response to Black Friday and highlights the importance of giving to non-profit organizations that serve their communities.

Prospective donors who were not able to give on GivingTuesday can still donate and support HPU’s students by visiting


Cutline: Howard Payne University expresses thankfulness for the support shown on GivingTuesday.

HPU to hold fall Commencement ceremony this Saturday

Howard Payne University will hold its fall Commencement ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 7, beginning at 10 a.m. at the university’s historic L.J. Mims Auditorium. The auditorium is located on HPU’s campus, near the intersection of Center Avenue and Austin Avenue.

Dr. Cory Hines, HPU president, and other university representatives will confer the undergraduate and graduate degrees. Delivering the charge to the graduates is Dr. Steve Bezner, senior pastor of Houston Northwest Baptist Church.

Commencement will be preceded on Friday, Dec. 6, by the Chime Out ceremony, 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 L.J. Mims Auditorium.

Both events will be livestreamed on Facebook at


Cutline: HPU’s historic L.J. Mims Auditorium is the site for the university’s fall Chime Out and Commencement ceremonies.

Eight from HPU’s social work program participate in Mission Waco Poverty Simulation

Six Howard Payne University students, a faculty member and a retired faculty member recently took part in Mission Waco’s Poverty Simulation. The goal of the trip was to give participants a firsthand look at poverty in America. This was HPU’s 10th year to participate in the event.

Mission Waco creates a safe, controlled weekend of experiences that are designed to increase empathy for those living in poverty. HPU students joined approximately 25 other people of various ages to go through this simulation together.

Those who made the trip included Rachel Derrington Bourke, professor of social work and director of the social work program; sophomore Felicia Guzman of Natalia; senior David Manolof of Midway, Arkansas; senior Shantel Oplotnik of Brownwood; senior Destiny Sharp of Brownwood; senior Andrew Taylor of Brookesmith; and sophomore Diana Torres from Houston.

Dan Humeniuk, assistant professor emeritus of social work, also accompanied the group, making this his 10th time participating in the poverty simulation.

“It was a privilege to once again participate in the weekend with a group of HPU students,” he said. “The experience always serves to emphasize how people of faith should respond to poverty. It is always my hope that the students bring back a greater sensitivity to those who live in the margins of society and a clearer understanding of their obligation as Christians to advocate and assist those in need.”

Attendees experienced a very small sample of the hunger, tiredness and hardship many homeless people have to endure on a daily basis. With the exception of travel to a service project, they walked everywhere they needed to go, which totaled about 14 miles over the weekend.

“The experience helps social work students better understand the needs of the marginalized and oppressed,” said Derrington Bourke. “When it is time for the students to go into practice, they will be better informed to provide services and create community initiatives to build pathways out of poverty.”

The group had the opportunity to attend a church service and worship at the Magnolia Market Silos in Waco on Sunday morning. Mission Waco conducts the church services and, as part of the simulation, participants walked one-and-a-half miles to the worship site. Groups of people from all over Waco, including college students, families and homeless people, join together to worship there.

“Once at the Silos we were greeted by the biggest smiles and warmest welcomes,” said Shantel Oplotnik. “The congregation was full of homeless people. What an inspiration it was to see those who have absolutely nothing praising God.”

Derrington Bourke expressed the importance of these types of experiences for students going into the social field.

“Our future social work leaders are tasked to help communities break down the stereotypes about people in poverty and build partnerships,” said Derrington Bourke. “The goal is to provide resources so each and every individual will be able to reach his or her full potential.”


Cutline: Eight from HPU participated in the 2019 Poverty Simulation in Waco. From left to right are Rachel Derrington Bourke, assistant professor of social work and director of HPU’s social work program; Diana Torres; David Manolof; Felicia Guzman; Andrew Taylor; Destiny Sharp; and Dan Humeniuk, assistant professor emeritus. Not pictured is Shantel Oplotnik.

Public invited to “An HPU Family Christmas” on December 2

BROWNWOOD – November 19, 2019 – Howard Payne University invites the public to “An HPU Family Christmas,” a series of activities scheduled for the evening of Monday, December 2, to celebrate the Christmas season. The events, which are free of charge, will include a concert, lighting ceremony, a reading of the Christmas story and more. The evening was planned as an opportunity to bring HPU personnel and students together with the university’s neighbors in Brownwood, Early and the surrounding communities.

“We’re honored to include the people of our area as part of our HPU family,” said Dr. Cory Hines, HPU president. “We value the friendship and support throughout the year, and we look forward to welcoming the public for a special evening of Christmas celebration.”

The evening’s events will begin at 7 p.m. with “HPU Voices of Christmas,” presented by the combined HPU choirs and conducted by Dr. Christopher Rosborough, assistant professor of music and director of choral activities. The concert will feature a full orchestra with a special appearance by a children’s chorus comprised of singers from the Brownwood Independent School District. Attendants will enjoy classical and modern musical settings along with congregational carols. The concert will take place at Brownwood’s First Baptist Church, across Austin Avenue from the HPU campus.

At 8:15 p.m., the festivities will move across the street to HPU’s Old Main Park and Muse Mall for the university’s traditional lighting of campus decorations and singing of Christmas carols. Dr. Hines will read the biblical account of Jesus’ birth from the book of Luke. The event will conclude with a special appearance by Santa Claus, who will be available for photos.


Cutline: HPU welcomes the public to an evening of Christmas festivities on Monday, December 2.

HPU students shine at Bayou City Swing Speech and Debate Tournament

BROWNWOOD – November 18, 2019 – HPU’s Student Speaker Bureau speech and debate team recently competed at the Bayou City Swing Speech and Debate Tournament, held at Lone Star College in Houston. Lucy Manning, junior strategic communication, social science jurisprudence and Guy D. Newman Honors Academy major from Fort Worth, won top debate speaker and advanced to finals in International Public Debate (IPDA).

Freshman Devin Schurman, strategic communication, social science jurisprudence and Guy D. Newman Honors Academy major from San Antonio, was the third place debate speaker at the tournament and was a quarterfinalist in IPDA debate.

Dr. Julie Welker, professor of communication and chair of the Department of Communication, coaches the team.

“This team has been working very hard on debate structure and solid oral argumentation,” said Dr. Welker. “Each round is a different topic, so our students must be well-versed on both domestic and foreign affairs. In the debate styles we compete in, we do not use pre-prepared arguments, so students must think quickly on their feet and have a broad-based knowledge on many topics.”

The parliamentary debate team of Schurman and Rishona Raub, freshman strategic communication, social work, and Guy D. Newman Honors Academy major from Celina, were semi-finalists.

“I’m very proud of Devin and Rishona’s efforts at this tournament,” said Dr. Welker. “They were up against very tough competition from schools much larger than HPU. It’s always impressive when a freshman team advances to semis.”

Due to the team’s excellent debate rankings, HPU won second place overall debate sweepstakes at the tournament.

In individual event competition, sophomore Alek Mendoza, theatre major from Bangs, won third place in program oral interpretation and fifth place in dramatic interpretation.

“Alek has competed very well this year,” said Dr. Welker. “In just his second year of collegiate competition, he has placed at all of our tournaments this fall, ranking high against some of the top competitors in the nation. He is putting in the work required to compete at this level, and it shows.”

HPU competed against colleges and universities from Texas and Mississippi.

Other students who competed at the tournament were Madison Neal, senior strategic communication major from Chandler, and Esmeralda Maldonado, senior strategic communication major from Whitney.


Cutline: HPU’s SSB speech and debate team is pictured holding awards received at the Bayou City Swing Speech and Debate Tournament. From left to right are Devin Schurman, Rishona Raub, Lucy Manning, Madison Neal, Esmerelda Maldonado and Alek Mendoza.

HPU Symphonic Band and Central Texas Community Band present “Yuletide Tidings” Nov. 21

BROWNWOOD – November 15, 2019 – Howard Payne University’s Symphonic Band and the Central Texas Community Band invite the public to “Yuletide Tidings,” a joint Christmas-themed presentation by the two groups directed by Frank Nelson, director of bands and assistant professor of music at HPU. The performance will take place on Thursday, November 21, at 7:30 p.m. in Mims Auditorium on the HPU campus. The event is free of charge.

The combined band is comprised of 56 members, including HPU students and faculty as well as musicians from Comanche, Santa Anna, Lake Brownwood and all across Brown County.

The program will feature numerous Christmas favorites such as “White Christmas,” “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” “Home for the Holidays” and many more. The audience will be invited to sing along with the band on some selections. The event will also include a special musical presentation by a trombone septet from members of the community band.

“This will be an evening filled with fun and enjoyable holiday entertainment,” said Frank Nelson. “We look forward to celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ through music with the people of our area.”


Cutline: Members of HPU’s Symphonic Band rehearse for the upcoming “Yuletide Tidings” concert.

Four HPU pre-college music students receive NSF Art Awards

Four students in the HPU pre-college music program were honored as recipients of Wilda Dragoo Music Scholarships during the Nancy Seaberry Frost Arts 21st Annual Music Scholarships presentation held at the Rip Festival in Eastland.

HPU pre-college music students recognized during the ceremony were Braylee Reeves and Matthew Till, students of Diane Owens, HPU pre-college program director, and Austin Luker and Avery Luker, students of HPU senior Suzanne Schad, a music education major from Briggs.

Through the aid of its donors, NSF Arts has helped to provide 462 music scholarships to school children in rural Texas and 127 concerts for schools and communities.

According to the organizations website, NSF Arts takes its namesake from Nancy Seaberry Frost, an accomplished music ensemble member. The Nancy Seaberry Frost Arts Endowment was established to introduce her love of music to children. The NSF Arts Music Scholarship Program and The Community Performances Program add to this rich legacy by creating and sharing music with future generations.


Cutline: Four HPU pre-college music students were awarded Wilda Dragoo Music Scholarships during the NSF Arts 21st Annual Music Scholarships presentation. Pictured from left to right are Braylee Reeves, Matthew Till, Austin Luker and Avery Luker.

HPU freshman Brianna Lopez receives UPS scholarship

Howard Payne University freshman Brianna Lopez, a criminal justice major from Corpus Christi, has been selected to receive a UPS scholarship provided by the Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas (ICUT) Foundation and its national partner, the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC).

Lopez is the daughter of Roxanne and Daniel Lopez and graduated from W.B. Ray High School in 2019. She is a member of the Lady Jackets softball team.

“Receiving this scholarship means a lot to me,” said Lopez. “I’m very thankful for this scholarship – it will really help me and my parents.”

At the national level, CIC works with the UPS Foundation to distribute funding of the UPS Scholarship. Each year, the organizations allocate thousands of dollars in scholarships to students at private institutions throughout the state.

The Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) is an association of more than 700 nonprofit independent colleges and universities and higher education affiliates and organizations that has worked since 1956 to support college and university leadership, advance institutional excellence and enhance public understanding of private higher education’s contributions to society. CIC is the major national organization focused on providing services to leaders of independent colleges and universities as well as conferences, seminars and other programs that help institutions improve educational quality, administrative and financial performance and institutional visibility. CIC conducts the largest annual conferences of college and university presidents and of chief academic officers. CIC also provides support to state associations that organize programs and generate contributions for their member colleges and universities, including the ICUT Foundation. The council is headquartered at One Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit

Applications for admission are being accepted for the spring 2020 and fall 2020 semesters at Howard Payne University ( For more information about HPU, including the wide range of available financial aid options, contact HPU’s Office of Admission at 325-649-8020 or by e-mail at


Cutline: HPU freshman Brianna Lopez, a criminal justice major from Corpus Christi, was selected to receive a UPS Foundation scholarship, provided by the ICUT Foundation and the CIC.

HPU nursing students participate in “Our Community Cares” event

Students from Howard Payne University’s School of Nursing recently visited Redstone Park, a local assisted-living facility, and participated in its annual “Our Community Cares” event.

The nursing students who participated in the event were Adrien Barrientos, junior from Little Elm; Hanna Crow, senior from Brownwood; Ashley Strong, senior from Brownwood; and Kira Teel, junior from San Antonio. The students had the opportunity to set up a booth and provide information about HPU, strength training and safe ways to get up from a fall. They also held a drawing for a basket that included two-pound weights, a pedometer and resistance balls.

The students enjoyed being a part of the community event.

“It was a privilege to be able to represent Howard Payne’s School of Nursing and work alongside others in the community,” said Barrientos.

Redstone Park’s event invited members of the community to learn about the health services available to them while enjoying live entertainment, food and door prizes. Attendees were also able to donate blood, receive vaccines and have their vision checked.

Dr. Nina Ouimette, dean of the School of Nursing and professor of nursing, stated, “The students were amazing role models in representing how much Howard Payne University cares for our community.”


Cutline: HPU nursing students hosted a booth at Redstone Park’s annual “Our Community Cares” event. From left to right are Ashley Strong, Hanna Crow, Kira Teel and Adrien Barrientos.