News Archives

HPU Women’s Club kicks off new school year with dessert social

The Howard Payne University Women’s Club welcomed the 2019-2020 school year by hosting a dessert social on campus. The “HPU Sweet Life” event brought more than 80 women together to celebrate their love for HPU and to get to know more about the purpose of the Women’s Club.

The evening provided an opportunity for all HPU women – employees and spouses of employees, as well as friends of the university – to fellowship with one another, vote on officer positions for the 2019-2020 school year and meet the new Women’s Club president, Melinda Hines.

Melinda Hines, HPU’s first lady, stated her goal for the event was to bring women together to celebrate HPU and get excited for the upcoming year and the future of the Women’s Club.

“Our hope is that, together, we can create a community of women who share a heart to serve and who feel encouraged and connected to each other, our wonderful university, our students and the Lord,” she said.

Hines expressed her excitement at being at HPU to serve alongside her husband, Dr. Cory Hines, HPU president, and appreciates the opportunities her new roles provide for service.

“It is such an honor and privilege to serve in this capacity,” she said. “I know the Lord has called not only my husband but also myself and our children here, and we are looking forward to the days and years ahead as we make HPU and Brownwood home.”

She also encouraged women to join with her and the members of the Women’s Club as the organization seeks to serve HPU and the community.

“Whether it has been years since you were last involved, you are a previously active member or even if you have never been a member, we hope that you will prayerfully consider joining the HPU Women’s Club,” said Hines. “Our hope and prayer are that together we can glorify Christ and promote the spirit of the university, both on campus and within our community, in a way that enriches the lives of Women’s Club members, Howard Payne University students, faculty, staff and the surrounding Brownwood and Early area.”

Joining Melinda Hines as officers for the 2019-2020 year are Tammy Arreola, social coordinator; Laura Benoit, vice president; Gretchen Campbell, service coordinator; Tracey Carrier, HPU Women to Women coordinator; Nikki Donathan, treasurer; Doris Goacher, service coordinator; Tammy Lowrey, secretary; Katrina Lynn, treasurer; Christy Meinecke, HPU Women to Women coordinator; Jordan Pitman, Yellow Rose Luncheon coordinator; Jane Rodgers, social coordinator; Candace Rohrer, Yellow Rose Luncheon coordinator; Susan Sharp, communications coordinator; and Rebekah Sterling, communications coordinator.

Requirements for membership include $25 in annual dues. If you are interested in joining the Women’s Club or would like to pay your dues, please visit


Cutline: This year’s officers of the HPU Women’s Club are, from left to right, Tracey Carrier, Doris Goacher, Christy Meinecke, Laura Benoit, Tammy Arreola, Melinda Hines, Tammy Lowrey, Katrina Lynn, Rebekah Sterling, Candace Rohrer and Susan Sharp. Not pictured are Gretchen Campbell, Nikki Donathan, Jordan Pitman and Jane Rodgers.

HPU School of Christian Studies’ Graduate Program Advisory Council holds annual meeting

The Howard Payne University School of Christian Studies’ Graduate Program Advisory Council (GPAC) recently held its annual meeting on the HPU campus.

The council, currently consisting of 16 ministry personnel from Texas, was established concurrently with HPU’s Christian studies graduate programs in 2006. Each year, before the upcoming school year, GPAC members meet to discuss recruiting efforts related to the programs and provide educational suggestions.

Current GPAC members include:

  • Jason Atchley ’98, pastor, Bacon Heights Baptist Church in Lubbock;
  • Greg Bowman ’92, pastor, Brock Baptist Church;
  • Ricky Cavitt, youth minister, Coggin Avenue Baptist Church in Brownwood;
  • Brad Echols ’98, youth minister, First Baptist Church in Belton;
  • Elias Garcia ’94, pastor of discipleship, Willow Meadows Baptist Church in Houston;
  • Chuck Gartman ’72, assistant professor of Christian studies and director of ministry guidance at HPU;
  • Dr. Gary Gramling ’81, dean of the School of Christian Studies, director of Christian studies graduate programs and professor of Christian studies;
  • Randy Johnson ’71, minister of youth education emeritus, First Baptist Church in Richardson;
  • Scott Lane ’90, executive ministry pastor, First Baptist Church in San Antonio;
  • Brett Levy ’96, family pastor, First Baptist Church Georgetown;
  • Chris Liebrum ’73, director of cooperative program ministry, Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT);
  • Cory Liebrum ’98, minister to families, First Baptist Church in Rockwall;
  • Jo Beth MacTavish ’06, youth minister, Kennefick South Baptist Church in Dayton, Texas;
  • Jerome Smith ’75, minister to families, Tallowood Baptist Church in Houston;
  • Jane Wilson, youth discipleship specialist, BGCT;
  • and Dr. Russell “Rusty” Wheelington, youth pastor, Southside Baptist Church in Brownwood and professor of Christian studies at HPU.

“We have an amazing group of advisory council members who have provided and continue provide tremendously valuable input and counsel as we move forward with graduate education in Christian studies,” said Dr. Gramling. “I am grateful to God for the blessing of knowing each of these people.”

The GPAC’s founding members were Chuck Gartman, Randy Johnson, Chris Liebrum, Wayne McAfee ’74 and Jerome Smith, who approached Dr. Don Newbury, then HPU president, and suggested the university offer more educational opportunities to its youth ministry students. Now, HPU offers two graduate programs to students – Master of Arts in Youth Ministry and Master of Arts in Theology.

HPU is the only Texas Baptist university offering both a youth ministry major and a master’s degree in the same field. There are more than 30 students currently enrolled in HPU School of Christian Studies graduate programs, with 62 graduates since the programs’ founding.


Cutline: The Howard Payne University School of Christian Studies’ Graduate Program Advisory Council recently held its annual meeting to discuss recruiting efforts and provide educational suggestions. Pictured from left to right are Greg Bowman, Dr. Russell Wheelington, Jo Beth McTavish, Brad Echols, Scott Lane, Randy Johnson, Jane Wilson, Chuck Gartman, Brett Levy, Cory Liebrum, Jason Atchley, Dr. Gary Gramling, Jerome Smith and Dr. Cory Hines, HPU president. Not pictured are Ricky Cavitt, Elias Garcia and Chris Liebrum

HPU names Dr. Donnie Auvenshine and Dr. Gary Gramling to new roles

Howard Payne University recently named Dr. Donnie Auvenshine and Dr. Gary Gramling to the positions of vice president for academic affairs and dean of the School of Christian Studies, respectively.

Upon entering his new role with the university, Dr. Auvenshine exited his longtime position as dean of the School of Christian Studies. He served in this position since 2007, also serving as dean from 1994 to 2003. He graduated with a B.A. degree from HPU in 1975, going on to earn his M.Div. and Ph.D. degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. After several years of teaching, he returned to HPU in 1993 to join the School of Christian Studies faculty.

Dr. Auvenshine and his wife, Sande, have been married for more than 40 years and have three grown children.

In addition to serving in a new capacity as dean of the School of Christian Studies, Dr. Gramling continues to serve as director of Christian studies graduate programs and professor of Christian studies. He has been a member of the School of Christian Studies faculty since 1990. He graduated with a B.A. degree from HPU in 1981, earning his M.Div. degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and his Ph.D. degree from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary.

He and his wife, PJ, also a 1981 HPU graduate and director of admission at HPU, have been married for more than 30 years and have two grown children.

“These men bring a high level of experience and commitment to our university,” said Dr. Cory Hines, HPU president. “They have been key influences to many students and others during their time at HPU. I look forward to how God will continue to use them as they serve our university in new roles.”


Cutline: Pictured from left to right are Dr. Gary Gramling and Dr. Donnie Auvenshine. Dr. Auvenshine was named HPU’s vice president for academic affairs and Dr. Gramling was named dean of the School of Christian Studies.

HPU announces inauguration of Dr. Cory Hines as 20th president

Howard Payne University proudly announces the inauguration of Cory Hines, Ph.D., as the 20th president in the institution’s 130-year history. Inauguration activities are scheduled for September 17-21, 2019, with the Inauguration Ceremony to be held on September 18 at 2 p.m. in Mims Auditorium.

Other activities open to the public include the Inaugural Chapel Service at 10 a.m. on September 18; the Inaugural Reception, following the Inauguration Ceremony; and the Inaugural HPU Family Tailgate, scheduled for 11 a.m. on September 21, preceding the HPU football game at Gordon Wood Stadium. Details on inauguration activities are available at

“On behalf of the Howard Payne University Board of Trustees, I am pleased to invite the public to our campus as we formally inaugurate Dr. Cory Hines as our new president,” said Pastor Ray Still, chair of HPU’s Board of Trustees. “HPU has planned a full slate of meaningful activities that will appropriately honor our institution’s past as well as the exciting new era that has already begun under Dr. Hines’ leadership.”

Dr. Hines, a 1997 graduate of HPU, was named president at a special meeting of the university’s Board of Trustees on March 18, 2019. His first official day in office was April 1.

“The circumstances of these past few months have reminded me again and again how blessed I am to have been called to lead my treasured alma mater,” Dr. Hines said. “I am both honored and humbled by these upcoming inauguration activities, and I look forward to joining with the extended HPU family as together we celebrate this university and express our gratitude to God for His faithfulness to HPU throughout the past 130 years.”

Dr. Hines, a native of Gainesville, Texas, earned the Bachelor of Arts degree in religious education from HPU in 1997. He pursued graduate work at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he earned the Master of Arts degree in Christian education in 2000, and Dallas Baptist University, where he earned the Doctor of Philosophy degree in leadership studies – higher education in 2012.

Prior to his return to HPU, Dr. Hines served as an administrator at Dallas Baptist University. During his years at DBU, he held various leadership roles as vice president in the areas of enrollment, advancement, graduate affairs, external affairs, and alumni and community relations. He also taught at DBU and provided leadership in the creation of several graduate programs there. His professional experience also includes full-time ministry, having served as executive pastor and student pastor at Ferris Avenue Baptist Church (now The Avenue Church) in Waxahachie.

Dr. Hines and his wife, Melinda, have two children, Mackenzie and Caleb.


Cutline: Dr. Cory Hines, pictured at Howard Payne University’s Commencement ceremony in May, will be inaugurated as the institution’s 20th president on September 18.

Patterson follows Justice through HPU’s biomedical science program

Howard Payne University’s biomedical science program reached two significant milestones recently with the graduation of its first program participant and the admittance of its second student. Hannah Justice of Brownwood, who was admitted to the program as a sophomore in 2017, graduated in May and Morgan Patterson, a junior from Kerrville, will begin coursework in the program this fall.

The demanding program prepares students for various health professions through challenging coursework similar to what they will encounter as graduate students. To be considered for admission to the program, students must complete 60 semester hours with a GPA of at least 3.0, complete required biology and chemistry courses, submit an application packet to the program and interview with the Biomedical Science Admissions Committee.

“HPU students pursuing the biomedical science degree will begin as a biology major,” said Dr. Kristen Hutchins, associate professor of biology and director of HPU’s biomedical science program. “Once they’ve met the requirements for admission, they can then apply to become a Biomedical Scholar and finish their HPU degree in biomedical science.”

From her perspective as a newly minted HPU graduate, Justice appreciates the ways the experience prepared her for her future in the medical field and for life.

“This program is very rigorous,” Justice said, “but you’re given so many resources and get to be in a program that’s specifically tailored to what you want to do. It has definitely prepared me to go to graduate school. Working with Dr. Hutchins has also been very rewarding. She has given me guidance in the classroom and in life and has encouraged me, supported me and believed in me when I didn’t always believe in myself.”

Justice largely attributed her completion of the program to the support of friends, family and others in the HPU community. She explained that being at HPU helped her to focus on Christ as the motivation for her hard work.

“You need people in your life who are there to encourage you and also keep you humble,” she said. “The great thing about this program being at HPU is that it provides that kind of accountability by reminding you of who you are in Christ and who you’re doing this for.”

Justice also gave advice for those preparing to enroll in the program in the future.

“Don’t let the hard work scare you,” she said. “Pursuing any sort of pre-health profession is sometimes dubbed as impossible, especially if you’re attending a small university, but if you are willing to put in the hard work and be diligent then it’s completely possible.”

Justice has been accepted to her first choice of medical schools, Texas Tech University, where she will be studying for the next four years. She will then participate in a residency program for three to five years to become board certified in a specialty of her choosing.

“When working with our department to design the biomedical science program, I had students like Hannah in mind,” said Dr. Hutchins. “She is driven, curious and has a love of science and people. She persevered through hard semesters and allowed the Lord to guide her as she made decisions about her future. Getting to mentor Hannah over the last few years has been such a treasure to me.”

As Justice was wrapping up her time in the biomedical program and at HPU, Patterson was just getting started. She completed her sophomore year and is majoring in the Guy D. Newman Honors Academy as well as biomedical science. She interviewed for admission to the program in spring 2019.

“I was nervous for my interview, but I’m really excited to be the next person in the program,” said Patterson. “I‘ve known my whole life that I’ve wanted to be somewhere in the health field. When I applied to HPU I just knew that this program was my best chance at getting into a graduate school in the health field.”

Patterson said she has wanted to be a veterinarian since high school, but was unsure until college.

“When I was in high school I wanted to be a vet, but I thought I wasn’t cut out for it,” she said. “When I came to college that changed. In our health professions seminar class with Dr. Hutchins we heard from a local veterinarian and everything he said just really spoke to me. I just felt that was where God was calling me.”

Though initially nervous, Patterson is excited to begin work in the program.

“I’m looking forward to all of the opportunities that it’s going to open up for me, such as getting to meet professionals who are already in the field,” she said. “I’m also looking forward to working with Dr. Hutchins. I think she does a great job at connecting students to the right resources and the right people.”

Dr. Hutchins is confident that Patterson will thrive in the program and is eager to see her grow in her field of study.

“Morgan joins our biomedical science program this year having already demonstrated that she can handle rigor in the Honors Academy and her science courses, all while being a collegiate athlete,” said Dr. Hutchins. “Each of those alone is challenging! In addition, Morgan is incredibly humble and kind. I am excited to walk that road with her as she prepares for a profession in veterinarian medicine. She will be excellent.”

As Dr. Hutchins looks to the future of the program, she expresses her enthusiasm for the students and for the university’s positioning to help equip them for meaningful careers.

“Hannah, Morgan and other Biomedical Scholars who come through our program will take with them not only their academic training in the sciences, but also their Christian liberal arts education and worldview,” said Dr. Hutchins. “These things will help ground them as they become health care providers.”

Applications are still being accepted for the fall 2019 semester 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 graduate Hannah Justice (left) stands with junior Morgan Patterson (right). They are the first and second students, respectively, to enroll in HPU’s biomedical science program. Justice completed the program and graduated in May 2019.

HPU’s Dr. Derek Smith and Frank Ritter ’17 instruct students at 4-H Horizons Camp

Dr. Derek L. Smith, former associate professor of chemistry at Howard Payne University, and Frank Ritter ’17 recently led a workshop for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) students during the 4-H Horizons Camp, sponsored by Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service and HPU.

The camp is held each year at the Texas 4-H Conference Center on Lake Brownwood with up to 100 elementary and middle school student participants. During the four-day camp, youth spend six hours per day studying in a project area of their choosing, such as woodworking, veterinary science, wildlife and STEM-robotic.

This year, 15 students chose the STEM-robotics track. These students learned how to build and program Lego robots, construct trebuchets, test water quality and explore forensic science through pattern recognition in fingerprints and microscopic examination of hair samples.

“These hands-on activities make learning fun, while reinforcing teamwork and communication skills in these talented kids,” said David Smith, the camp’s administrator. “Most of our content experts and project leaders come from within the Extension, but these kids benefit every year from the outside expertise that local professionals, such as Frank and Derek, possess.”

Applications are still being accepted for the fall 2019 semester 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: Dr. Derek Smith, former associate professor of chemistry, and Frank Ritter ’17, led a workshop for students interested in science, technology, engineering and math as part of the 4-H Horizons Camp at the 4-H State Conference Center.

HPU to host Part-Time Job and Internship Fair August 28

Howard Payne University’s Office of Career Services invites area businesses and organizations to participate in its Part-Time Job and Internship Fair. The event will be held on August 28 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. in the Mabee University Center’s Bullion Suites.

Employers will meet one-on-one with and accept applications from students seeking positions in a variety of professions. A six-foot-long table and two chairs will be provided for displaying organization information. Electrical outlets and Wi-Fi access will also be available to each registered employer. Private interview areas will also be made available to prospective employers upon request.

“Part-time employment can be dually beneficial,” said Tammy Arreola, HPU’s career services coordinator. “Employers are connected to a young and motivated workforce while students have the opportunity to earn workplace experience that can act as a supplement to traditional classroom education.”

A light breakfast, pizza and beverages will be provided for attendees and participating businesses. Table coverings are required. If an employer does not have a table cover, HPU will provide one for a $20 fee payable at the time of registration. Employers may register for a booth online at Registration ends August 23.

Howard Payne University is a Christ-centered, close-knit academy, located in the heart of Texas since 1889. HPU has extension centers in El Paso and New Braunfels. More than 100 majors, minors and pre-professional programs are offered by the university. Since 1889, more than 17,000 students have graduated from HPU.

For more information about the Part-Time Job and Internship Fair, please contact Tammy Arreola at 325-649-8630 or


HPU choirs perform in Austria

Members of Howard Payne University’s Concert Choir and University Singers recently performed in Austria with six other choral groups.

HPU’s contingent of 23 performed with a mass choir, numbering almost 100 singers, and a chamber orchestra in a performance of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Requiem” at the historic Votivkirche. The renowned composer was born in Salzburg, living and performing in Austria for most of his life. This historical context lent significance to the experiences of attendees.

“A part of my heart will always be in Austria, especially Salzburg,” said Dr. Christopher Rosborough, assistant professor of music and director of choral activities. “To host this trip was an immense honor and I know that, for those in attendance, minds were sharpened, hearts were changed and eyes were opened. There is nothing more empowering to the musician and scholar than to experience first-hand the history of a specific composer. In our case, a musicological wellspring such as Austria holistically filled each of us.”

Student Taylor Davis commented on the experience of performing abroad at a historic site.

“This trip was absolutely incredible,” said Davis. “To sing alongside six other groups in the Votivkirche in Vienna was absolutely magical and I was left in tears at the end of the concert. Austria is such a kind, beautiful country and I feel as though my life and view of the world have changed significantly after going.”

The ensemble performed under the direction of Dr. John Dickson, director of choral studies at Louisiana State University. Dr. Dickson is familiar to HPU, having served as the featured clinician at the university’s first annual Conducting Workshop held in the spring of 2018.

HPU students included Rebekah Barnett, a junior from Frisco majoring in musical education; Taylor Davis, a senior from Alvin majoring in musical education; Madelyn Deviney, a senior from Bulverde majoring in the Guy D. Newman Honors Academy and English; Preston Ezzell, a freshman from Brownwood majoring in engineering science and music education; Joseph Lahmann, a junior from Killeen majoring in business and systems development; Ryan Miles, a junior from Goldthwaite majoring in vocal performance; Amanda Moore, a freshman from Euless majoring in elementary education; and Suzanne Schad, a senior from Briggs majoring in music education.

HPU alumni, faculty and staff included Joy Renée Blackstock ’07; Kayla Chadwick ’19; Jessica Jones ’06; Cathryn Rasbury ’15; Danielle Rosborough ’08, database manager; Beverly Ross ’76; Natalie Stephens ’19; and Katelyn Zimmer ’19. Dr. Rosborough led the group from HPU and performed along with choir members. Also accompanying the group were six members of the HPU University Singers, Gary Butka, Angie Calfa, Ann Harris, Bill Slaymaker, Ann Slaymaker and Brent Rosborough.

Applications are still being accepted for the fall 2019 semester 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: Pictured are members of HPU choirs in front of the Austrian cathedral, Votivkirche.

HPU scholarship established in memory of Nanda Wilbourn

A scholarship at Howard Payne University has been created in memory of Nanda Wilbourn, the longtime Brownwood educator who passed away on July 24. Her family requests that donations be made to this scholarship in lieu of flowers. The scholarship will assist students pursuing teaching and/or coaching degrees.

Anyone wishing to contribute to the fund is asked to contact HPU’s Office of Institutional Advancement at 325-649-8006 or visit When giving online, under the “Designation” heading, please select “Other” and type “Nanda Wilbourn memorial scholarship.” Gifts by mail can be sent to: Office of Institutional Advancement, Howard Payne University, P.O. Box 2369, Brownwood, TX 76804. The office is located at 803 Center Avenue in Brownwood.

“Nanda Wilbourn was an immeasurable influence on countless lives,” said Dr. Cory Hines, HPU’s president. “This scholarship is a wonderful tribute to her memory and will extend her influence to students still to come.”

The memorial service for Nanda Wilbourn will be held on Friday, August 2, at 2:00 p.m. at Brownwood’s First United Methodist Church. The service will be preceded by visitation on Thursday, August 1, at 6:00 p.m. at Heartland Funeral Home in Early.


Dr. Dale Meinecke ’98 returns to HPU to lead advancement efforts

Howard Payne University recently named Dr. Dale Meinecke to the position of vice president for development. The 1998 HPU graduate oversees the university’s efforts in fundraising, alumni relations and other operations in the Office of Institutional Advancement. He began his new role on July 1.

Dr. Meinecke has a wide range of experience in higher education. Through various roles, he has worked to build relationships, grow programs and enhance student success. He returns to HPU from Dallas Baptist University, where he served as professor of leadership and director of the Master of Arts in Leadership program. He previously served at HPU as assistant vice president for external affairs from 2012 to 2017, strengthening the university’s presence in New Braunfels and El Paso. Earlier service at HPU also includes experience on the football coaching staff and as chapel coordinator. Through his work at HPU’s extension centers and in DBU’s leadership program, he developed fundraising skills that will serve him well in his new role.

His wife, Christy (Crawford) Meinecke, also a 1998 HPU graduate, is a native of Brownwood. They have been married for 20 years and have two daughters, Katie and Claire.

“Dr. Meinecke has great character, expansive knowledge and a deep commitment to Howard Payne University,” said Dr. Cory Hines, HPU’s president. “I am very pleased to welcome the Meineckes back home to HPU and look forward to the great things God will accomplish through Dr. Meinecke’s leadership of our advancement office.”

Applications are still being accepted for the fall 2019 semester 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: Dr. Dale Meinecke, a 1998 graduate of Howard Payne University, has returned to his alma mater as vice president for development.