“Howard Payne University is doing really well, and we’re going to do better,” HPU President Dr. Bill Ellis told members of the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce Friday.
Ellis, who came to Howard Payne as president three years ago after serving as provost at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, said the incoming freshman class arrived on campus this week. Overall, enrollment for the fall is expected to match the record set three years ago.
Ellis emphasized the partnership the university has enjoyed with the Brownwood community since it was founded almost 125 years ago, in 1889.
“What’s good for Howard Payne is good for Brownwood,” Ellis told the business and civic leaders assembled for the chamber’s monthly membership luncheon. “And what is good for Brownwood is good for Howard Payne.”
Ellis said just like businesses, universities are facing challenges in the current economic climate. However, HPU has not had to eliminate programs or reduce faculty as some private universities in Texas have been forced to do. HPU finished the past year in the black financially, he added.
“Certainly, we’re going through a revolution,” Ellis said of the education community. “Technology has allowed what used to be only the primary area of a university to be generally available. I think it’s going to broaden the availability of education, but I don’t think parents are going to stop sending their children to colleges and universities, even though they might be able to get that degree sitting in their bedroom.”
Ellis pointed out that the mission of all universities is to do more than just provide content needed for a profession.
“We deliver wisdom,” Ellis said. “We are giving students an understanding of how to live their lives.”
And at Howard Payne, Ellis said, that education begins on a bedrock of ethical and biblical principles that are not negotiable.
“My hope is that when our students graduate, they are people who understand and value wisdom.”
In order to be successful, professional people require the broad education that goes beyond just their chosen field, Ellis said. That’s the benefit of a liberal arts education as provided by universities like Howard Payne.
“We are delivering an education experience with a goal of understanding wisdom,” Ellis said.
Looking ahead, Ellis said the university is poised to begin a new capital campaign that will create a new “front door” that will face Center Avenue but be attractive to Austin Avenue. This facility will feature a welcome center, and the honors program at the Academy of Freedom. An education building is also planned, visible from Main Street, but fronting on the interior of the campus. Another goal of the campaign will be to raising the university’s endowment.
“The future of any private university is to have those resources for scholarships,” Ellis said.
Ellis also mentioned the new MBA program now in place, and plans to offer bachelor’s degrees in nursing and chemical engineering.
“We as a university need to grow in size,” Ellis said. “We need to go forward.”
The success university students enjoyed worldwide exposure this summer is also a point of pride. HPU students earned high accolades when The Winds of Triumph performed in Paris and in London at the Summer Olympics, and when theater students went to Edinburg, Scotland, to go on stage at the International Collegiate Theatre Festival.