Howard Payne University’s Guy D. Newman Honors Academy celebrated the 50th anniversary of its first graduating class at Mims Auditorium Saturday night with music, speakers including Jim Angle, former chief national correspondent for FOX news channel, and later, a dinner at the Mabee Center to honor the graduates.

Dr. Ed Daniel, who graduated from the academy in 1966, introduced those who had a role in the program including Angle, HPU president Dr. Bill Ellis, and made remarks praising the academy.

In the 53 years of the academy’s existence, Daniel said, “400 graduates have come out of the academy and done some amazing things.”

Ellis said he has been at many universities. “I have directed honors academies, even began an honors academy at one university,” Ellis said.

“I wish that I had seen this one before I did all of those, because I would have those the way this one was done,” Ellis said.

Ellis recalled the era a half-century ago when Newman and financial backer Othan Brand “came up with the idea of an academy that would have, as its roots and its foundation, the things which have made America great.”

Angle gave some of his observations about Washington, D.C. President Obama and those who have announced their intent to run for president in 2016.

“As many of you have noted, Washington isn’t working very well these days,” Angle said. “One reason for the dysfunction is that the Obama administration has angered so many Democrats or disappointed them, that many of them don’t want to really work with him.”

Angle noted that polls show that the majority of Americans believe the country is headed the wrong way, and there are two man reasons, Angle said: the economy and foreign policy.

Angle also used humor, joking that Washington resembles “a circular firing squad.”

Angle also quoted an unnamed elected official as saying Washington is the place where, when politicians walk down Lover’s Lane, they hold their own hands.”

At the Mabee Center dinner, Daniel welcomed guests including Mack DuBose, the first academy graduate in 1965.  

The academy was previously known as the Douglas MacArthur Academy of Freedom and was renamed in 2013 in honor of Newman, who served as HPU’s president from 1955 to 1973.