Howard Payne University

Howard Payne University
Motto Believe, Belong, Become
Type Private university
Established June 20, 1889 (1889-06-20)
Affiliation Baptist General Convention of Texas
Endowment $61.25 million[1]
President William Ellis
Students 1170
Location Brownwood, Texas, U.S.
Colors Navy blue and Old gold[2]
Nickname Yellow Jackets

Howard Payne University is a four-to-five-year (depending on degree plan), private university located in Brownwood, Texas. The university is affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas.

Currently the university has almost 1,200 full-time students. Howard Payne is known for its Christian Studies program, the Guy D. Newman Honors Academy, and its Music department.

HPU founders named the college after Edward Howard Payne, a Missouri resident. Payne, brother-in-law to John David Robnett, the college's founder, gave the lead monetary gift to start the university.

HPU offers more than 50 majors, minors and pre-professional programs within six schools: Science and Math, Business, Christian Studies, Education, Music and Fine Arts, and Humanities.

With a student to professor ratio of 11:1 and peer tutoring through the collegium on campus, student success is a priority at HPU.

Athletic programs include NCAA Division III football, baseball, softball, women's volleyball, men and women's soccer, basketball and tennis. The HPU mascot is a yellow jacket named "Buzzsaw."

The university also has extension centers located in New Braunfels, Texas and in El Paso, Texas.

Founding and history

Mabee University Center

Baptist leaders in Brown County saw a need for a Baptist institution of higher education. In 1889, Howard Payne College opened for its first semester. Two years later, HPU became sister schools with Baptist school Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas. Late nineteenth-century travelers found travel methods unreliable at best and placed themselves at risk of attack from American Indians of the Comanche tribe native to the area. Texas recorded its last Indian attack in the early twentieth century near Santa Anna, Texas.

Daniel Baker College, a Presbyterian institution, began operation near the time local Baptists founded Howard Payne. Ironically, DBC backers began construction on a piece of land directly behind where Howard Payne's Old Main Hall would stand and eventually moved the foundation to the NE corner of Austin and Coggin Avenues. DBC and Howard Payne merged in 1953 after DBC fell into financial difficulties, and after extensive renovation, DBC's main building became the Douglas MacArthur Academy of Freedom building in 1969.

After initial financial difficulties related to the 1890s financial panic, Howard Payne joined the system of colleges and universities funded by the Baptist General Convention of Texas. The BGCT operated Howard Payne as a junior college from 1900 until 1914, when it regained four-year status.

Dr. Thomas Taylor took office as university president in 1929 shortly before the stock market crash began the Great Depression. Taylor kept Howard Payne open when other rural, private colleges failed by challenging faculty members to work without pay and house students in their homes without compensation. At the end of the faculty prayer meeting in which Taylor issued the challenge, most faculty members tore up their contracts and agreed to work without pay until the college began operating in the black.

Taylor's successor, Guy D. Newman, took office in 1955 and before retiring from the post in 1973, created the Douglas MacArthur Academy of Freedom and built most of the campus buildings still in use today.

In 1974, the BGCT recognized Howard Payne's broad academic scope and approved a name change in the school's charter, from "Howard Payne College" to "Howard Payne University."

In 1984, Old Main Hall, the building symbolic of HPU, burned to the ground during finals week. Although the Brownwood Fire Department headquarters sit across the street from the HPU campus, a prank caller phoned in a false alarm in Bangs, a small town 8 miles from the Brownwood city limits, to which the department responded. Before the crews could return to Brownwood, fire completely consumed the 95-year-old building.


  1. Dr. A. J. Emerson 1890 -1893
  2. Dr. John D. Robnett 1893- 1896
  3. Dr. James H. Grove 1896- 1908
  4. Dr. John S. Humphreys (Acting President) 1908-1910
  5. Dr. Robert H. Hamilton 1910-1911
  6. Dr. John S. Humphreys 1911-1913
  7. Dr. James M. Carroll 1913-1914
  8. Dr. Anderson E. Baten (Vice President & Acting President) 1915-1917
  9. Dr. Judson A. Tolman 1917-1919
  10. Dr. L. J. Mims 1919-1922
  11. Dr. William R. Hornburg (Vice President & Acting President) 1922-1923
  12. Dr. Edgar Godbold 1923-1929[3]
  13. Dr. Thomas H. Taylor 1929-1955
  14. Dr. Guy D. Newman 1955-1973
  15. Dr. Roger Brooks 1973-1979
  16. Dr. Charles A. Stewart (Chief Executive officer) 1979-1980
  17. Dr. Ralph A. Phelps, Jr. 1980-1985
  18. Dr. Don Newbury 1985-1997
  19. Dr. Rick Gregory 1997-2002
  20. Dr. Russell H. Dilday (Interim President) 2002- 2003[4]
  21. Dr. Lanny Hall 2003-2009
  22. Dr. William Ellis 2009–Present


Wilson Gate, 2001

The school supports an active athletic program for both men's and women's competition in the NCAA Division III. The school is currently a member of the American Southwest Conference.

Men's Sports Women's Sports

National Championship teams

Howard Payne University teams achieved national championship status in 1957 and 1964 in NAIA Cross Country, and in 2008 with NCAA Division III Women's Basketball.[5]


Football began at Howard Payne in 1903. Gwinn Henry was named the first head coach in 1912 and coached for two seasons.[6]

Campus life

Memorial Bell Towers

Student organizations

Student elected organizations

Greek organizations

Service Organizations

Honorary organizations

Departmental organizations

Religious organizations

Notable alumni

Main Sign


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Coordinates: 31°42′58″N 98°59′13″W / 31.716°N 98.987°W / 31.716; -98.987

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