News Archives

HPU finalizes preparations for presidential inauguration of Dr. Cory Hines

Howard Payne University is readying the final details for events related to the inauguration of Cory Hines, Ph.D., as the institution’s 20th president. 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.

For those who are unable to attend the Inauguration Ceremony, HPU has announced that the event will be available to view by livestream on the official HPU Facebook page ( The livestream will also be accessible from the university’s website (

In addition to the Inauguration Ceremony, the public is also invited to 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

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 on the Howard Payne University campus, will be inaugurated as the institution’s 20th president on September 18

HPU’s new first family feels right at home in the heart of Texas

When Dr. Cory Hines was named president of Howard Payne University nearly six months ago, one of the many benefits that came with his new position was the opportunity to return to the Brownwood/Early area, where he felt at home as an HPU student in the 1990s.

“God blessed Howard Payne by placing it in the center of a warm community,” he said. “I knew my family would love it here.”

The Hines family recently relocated to Brownwood from Waxahachie, which had been home for more than two decades. Despite the adjustments that come with making such a move, Dr. Hines and his wife, Melinda, along with their two children, Mackenzie and Caleb, are already finding themselves right at home, settling into their new surroundings and getting involved in area activities. The family enjoys exploring the region, making new friends and getting reacquainted with familiar faces from years past.

“I’ve been overwhelmed with people being so kind, welcoming and genuinely gracious,” Mrs. Hines said. “I love the slogan ‘Feels Like Home,’ because it already does.”

Among other summer activities, Dr. and Mrs. Hines took an excursion to Lake Brownwood. Mrs. Hines has been active with plans for the HPU Women’s Club, an organization that builds friendships on campus, throughout the community and beyond. Mackenzie and Caleb went to youth camp with a local church group. The family enjoys discovering restaurants and Dr. Hines, an avid outdoorsman, eagerly anticipates opportunities for hunting and fishing. He and his family look forward to a busy autumn of events, not only at HPU but also around town and across the area.

Daughter Mackenzie is a senior at Brownwood High School and son Caleb is an eighth-grader at Brownwood Middle School. In late spring, local friends gave Brownwood Lions t-shirts to Mackenzie and Caleb, and the two began wearing their new school colors before they had even relocated to Brownwood.

“I’m looking forward to making new friends and enjoying my senior year,” Mackenzie said, while Caleb added, “I’m excited about playing basketball in Brownwood.”

Mackenzie enjoys English and art, while Caleb’s favorite subject is math. The family appreciates the helpfulness of Brownwood Independent School District personnel with scheduling classes and finalizing details for the new school year.

“Brownwood and Howard Payne already feel like home,” Dr. Hines said. “Much of what I experienced as a student way back is still true today.”

He recalls experiences such as playing Jacket Golf, a favorite HPU Yellow Jackets pastime played around campus using golf clubs and tennis balls, which he now gets to share with his family.

“I think the campus community is excited about having an alumnus as president,” he added. “There’s something fun, too, about having kids in the president’s home. That’s a lot of fun – having a Nerf gun war or their friends coming over and hanging out at the house.”

The Hines family enjoyed the whirlwind summer and looks forward to the future.

“We’re so happy to be here,” Dr. Hines said. “We can’t wait to see what God has in store for the months and years ahead.”


Cutline: Dr. Cory and Mrs. Melinda Hines, along with daughter Mackenzie and son Caleb, appreciate the warm welcome provided by the Brownwood and Early communities and look forward to an autumn full of activities.

HPU graduate Audrey Simpson named recipient of national business scholarship

Audrey Simpson, a spring 2019 graduate of Howard Payne University, was recently named one of thirty recipients of the Sigma Beta Delta National Scholarship.

Simpson graduated from HPU with a bachelor’s degree in marketing and is now studying online toward a master’s degree in marketing at Texas A&M University-Commerce. Originally from Cuero, she currently works as social media coordinator for Wes-Tex Printing in Brownwood. She also attends Brownwood Community Church and serves as a youth volunteer at the church.

“Audrey was an excellent student at HPU and has very creative ideas,” said Dr. Debra Powell, associate professor of business and president of HPU’s branch of Sigma Beta Delta. “She was involved in many campus activities as a student and is a perfect example of a Sigma Beta Delta member.”

Dr. Powell, Dr. Jim Finch, professor of business administration, and Mike Dillard, assistant professor of business administration, nominated Simpson for the scholarship, with the approval of Dr. Brad Lemler, dean of the School of Business and professor of accounting.

“I am very grateful to Dr. Powell, Dr. Finch, Professor Dillard and Dr. Lemler for nominating me and for seeing something in me,” she said. “I’m also grateful to the HPU athletic department for giving me a place to be a part of a community and to my family for being so supportive. I did this with the help of my teachers, coaches, friends, family and the faculty and staff at HPU.”

While an undergraduate student at HPU, Simpson played on the Lady Jackets softball team, was a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and served as a softball representative in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. She also was a member of business honor societies Sigma Beta Delta and Phi Beta Lambda, the university level of Future Business Leaders of America.

Her time at HPU has influenced her both academically and professionally, but the personal lessons offered by professors and other mentors have been particularly meaningful to Simpson.

“The wisdom I took in from the faculty at HPU prepared me more than anything else,” she said. “No matter which professor was teaching the class, there was always a life lesson to go along with the topic of the day. I might not always remember the margin of safety breakeven analysis formula, but I am going to remember that my purpose in life is far more than just academics and that God placed me here for something bigger.”

Sigma Beta Delta is a national business honors society that admits members who have demonstrated scholastic excellence in business, marketing and administration. It has more than 100,000 individual members in chapters located at institutions throughout the United States.

Applications are still being accepted for the spring 2020 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: Audrey Simpson ’19 was recently named a recipient of the Sigma Beta Delta National Scholarship.

HPU to host Encounter Week fall revival

Howard Payne University will host Encounter Week fall revival services Monday, September 9, through Wednesday, September 11. The guest speaker at this year’s annual service will be Daniel “Tiny” Dominguez and worship will be led by HPU alumna Katie (Curry) Kresge ’10.

“Tiny and Katie are both committed to serving the Lord, having followed His calling for each of their lives into church and vocational ministry,” said Keith Platte, Chapel coordinator and director of HPU’s Baptist Student Ministry. “We, as a campus community, are blessed to hear God’s word delivered by and worship with these two talented and Christ-minded individuals.”

Dominguez is a pastor at Community Heights Church in Lubbock, where he has served since 2007. He felt called to ministry at 19, going on to serve as a youth minister in El Paso, Wichita Falls and Fort Worth. He has also worked in the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT) as Hispanic Evangelism Associate, helping to lead Congreso, Campamento, Convencion and Hispanic Singles Camp. Additionally, he travels and preaches at camps, conferences and churches.

Kresge graduated from HPU with a bachelor’s degree in theology, later earning a master’s degree in worship ministry from Dallas Baptist University. She felt called to lead worship from a young age and continues to follow this call wherever she is given the opportunity. Currently, she is worship leader for Christ Church in Cedar Park. She is married to fellow HPU alumnus Matt Kresge ’10 and has a son, Jude.

Encounter Week services will be held in HPU’s Mims Auditorium at 10:00 a.m. Monday through Wednesday and at 7:30 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday. All Encounter Week services are open to the public.

Applications are being accepted for the spring 2020 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


Photo #1 cutline: Daniel “Tiny” Dominguez is the scheduled speaker for HPU’s 2019 Encounter Week services.

Photo #2 cutline: Katie (Curry) Kresge ’10 will lead worship at HPU’s 2019 Encounter Week services.

HPU faculty member Stephen Goacher enjoys busy spring of concerts

Howard Payne University’s Stephen Goacher, professor of music, participated in several notable professional musical engagements during the spring of 2019.

In January, Goacher joined fellow symphony musicians of the San Angelo Symphony Orchestra in a chamber music presentation at the Symphony Society Fashion Show & Fundraiser.

In February, he joined “All Hands on Deck” playing flute, clarinet and saxophone at performances in Greenville and Lubbock. The show is headquartered both on New York’s Broadway and in Branson, Missouri. Written by Jody Madaras, “All Hands on Deck” is based upon the 1942 Hollywood Victory Caravan, a travelling variety show to sell war bonds during the Second World War. Goacher frequently serves as lead woodwind during the touring company’s Texas tours.

Goacher returned to San Angelo on March 22 where he performed for the San Angelo Symphony Society in an invitation-only concert at the San Angelo Art Museum. He joined the Nashville jazz duo of singer Connye Florance and her husband, pianist Kevin Madill, performing selections from the Great American Songbook. Goacher then performed with the Temple Jazz Orchestra on March 30 at the 29th Annual Temple Jazz Festival, featuring Cuban percussionist Luis Conte.

On April 5-7, he played piccolo, flute, clarinet and tenor saxophone with the Abilene Opera Society in its production of “West Side Story.” Goacher conducted the Howard Payne University Jazz Ensemble on April 13 in a performance at the Fifth Annual Eastland Jazz Festival in Eastland. He performed in an evening concert the same day with the Temple Jazz Orchestra in Georgetown at the Eastview Jazz Festival.

Applications are being accepted for the spring 2020 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: Howard Payne University’s Stephen Goacher, professor of music, performed in several notable concerts during the spring of 2019.

HPU welcomes new students to campus

Howard Payne University welcomed new students to its campus during Jacket Journey, a student welcome event held August 15-18.

Jacket Journey is held annually before the fall semester begins to help first-year students at HPU become a part of the university community and meet fellow students and HPU personnel.

“It’s always exciting when students arrive on campus for the start of a new semester,” said Dr. Magen Bunyard, vice president of student life and dean of students. “Jacket Journey is a great opportunity for new students to build relationships, learn about HPU history and traditions, grow spiritually and get involved in campus life.”

HPU faculty, staff and returning students helped new students move into the residence halls on Wednesday and Thursday. Jacket Journey began on Thursday with a free lunch for students and their families hosted at the President’s Home by Dr. Cory Hines and his family.

“We at HPU are pleased to welcome these new students to our campus,” said Dr. Hines. “I look forward not only to HPU positively impacting these students’ lives, but also to how this new class will participate in the shaping of our university’s future.”

Additional Jacket Journey events included Chime In, a ceremony symbolizing the beginning of students’ time at HPU; Campus Celebration, a time of worship organized by the HPU Baptist Student Ministry; and S.W.A.R.M. (Serving With A Right Motive), a community-wide service project during which students served at Good Samaritan Ministries, the ARK Domestic Violence Shelter, the Brownwood Area Community Garden and the Brownwood’s Lyric Theatre.

“Jacket Journey is one of my favorite events at HPU because it is such a fun time for the incoming students to get to know one another, returning students and the campus before starting classes,” said Josh Snow, director of student activities. “Everyone here is important, so we try our best to create that atmosphere at Jacket Journey.”

Fall classes at HPU began on August 19. The university offers more than 100 majors, minors and pre-professional programs and participates in six men’s and women’s sports through the NCAA Division III’s American Southwest Conference.

Applications are being accepted for the spring 2020 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


Photo #1 cutline: Jacket Journey participants are pictured with HPU personnel and Dr. Cory Hines, HPU president.

Photo #2 cutline: Leading students through HPU’s Wilson Gate at Chime In are Dr. Cory and Mrs. Melinda Hines, HPU president and first lady, and Kendall Moore (far right), Student Government Association president.

HPU’s Department of Theatre presents original drama “Mouthpiece” in Edinburgh

Members of Howard Payne University’s Department of Theatre and university alumni recently traveled to Scotland to perform an original drama titled “Mouthpiece” at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe (EFF).

“What I was really excited about and proud to see was our students not just positively representing Howard Payne University, but also God’s kingdom,” said Dr. Nicholas Ewen ’02, assistant professor of theatre at HPU. “I heard from many people, students and directors who talked about how awesome our students are.”

“Mouthpiece,” written by Dr. Ewen, is about a senator who, after an accident, prompts those around him to consider the power of God’s Word. The play has an unmistakably Christian worldview and represented an opportunity for the group to do more than perform.

“We were not there just to have a great experience and perform a play,” said Dr. Ewen. “We were there to share what we believe and that was awesome to be able to do that.”

HPU’s contingent was invited to perform at the festival by the International Collegiate Theatre Festival (ICTF). The ICTF invites institutions to perform at the EFF each year and helps to coordinate their performance opportunities. As part of the ICTF, representatives of HPU at the Festival Fringe lived alongside fellow performers from colleges and universities around the United States.

“Being in Scotland and recognizing that God had prepared us to be there was really rewarding,” said Deejay Moses, a student at HPU majoring in theatre. “Something that we got to do in addition to performing was ministering to other college students who don’t go to school in places like HPU, where we are so immersed in Christ and the Gospel.”

HPU students, alumni and current and former personnel who traveled to and performed in Edinburgh included Lori Arp, longtime HPU theatre contributor; Dr. Ewen; Christopher Ewen, HPU dual-credit student; Jake Bowren, a senior from San Antonio majoring in theatre and communication studies with an emphasis in public and media; Sarah Heinrichs, a junior from Hico majoring in theatre arts with all-level certification; Dr. Nancy Jo Humfeld, professor emeritus of theatre; Deejay Moses, a senior from May majoring in theatre arts with all-level certification; Laurel Pinkney, a sophomore from Carrollton majoring in theatre; Cassia Rose ’18; and Isaac ’19 and Jessica ’19 Williams.

“The prayer support that we had definitely made a difference,” said Dr. Ewen. “From the minute we began travelling to Scotland, I could sense we had so much support in prayer. We had so much financial help too – the community really poured out a huge blessing on us and our students to be able to go. Everything fell into place.”

The EFF is the world’s largest theatre festival and attracts upwards of 500,000 visitors each year. More than 50,000 performances are staged during the three weeks of the festival and are hosted in any available venues, including hotel lobbies, restaurants and churches. It originated with eight theatre troupes performing on the outskirts of the 1947 Edinburgh International Festival. The festival has become iconic in the world of theatre, inspiring numerous other “fringe” festivals around the world.

Applications are being accepted for the spring 2020 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: Members of the HPU Theatre Department recently traveled to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and performed the original drama “Mouthpiece,” written by Dr. Nicholas Ewen ’02, assistant professor of theatre at HPU. Pictured from left to right are members of HPU’s theatre department and trip participants Sara Heinrichs; Laurel Pinkney; Cassia Rose ’18; Jessica Williams ’19; Deejay Moses; Isaac Williams ’19; Jacob Bowren; Dr. Nicholas Ewen; and Christopher Ewen.

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.

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