Around the State: ETBU students participate in Operation Christmas Child

East Texas Baptist University students spread holiday cheer locally and globally through Operation Christmas Child and Learning and Leading ministry opportunities. (ETBU Photo)

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East Texas Baptist University collected 300 toy-filled shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. (ETBU Photo)

East Texas Baptist University participated in its fifth annual Operation Christmas Child, a Samaritan’s Purse program that provides shoeboxes filled with small toys, school supplies and other items to children in developing nations. “In the past, the Tiger student-athletes would stuff their boxes and write notes all together, but with COVID protocols in place, each team was given a time slot to participate safely while enjoying cookies and Christmas music,” said Ryan Erwin, ETBU vice president for student engagement and athletics. This year, each residence hall on the campus also contributed shoeboxes to the cause. ETBU collected more than 300 boxes, a record for the university. Students from ETBU’s freshman Learning and Leading seminar also spread holiday cheer by creating gifts of thanksgiving and appreciation for all of the administrators, teachers and staff in the Marshall Independent School District.

Talen Davis-Rentfro, Martin Mintchev and Jacob Bonner from Howard Payne University examine Aurakills prototypes. (HPU Photo)

Martin Mintchev, director of the engineering science program at Howard Payne University, and his students recently unveiled Aurakills—wearable personal protective equipment designed to emit a virus- and bacteria-destroying UV aura believed to be effective against COVID-19. The fully functional prototype is a modified baseball cap that features battery-powered, built-in LEDs embedded in the bill. Mintchev devised Aurakills as a practical educational experience for his students. In addition to its benefits in the fight against COVID-19, the project—which has a patent pending—was designed to give students an opportunity to build intellectual property, participate in the process of developing an invention into a patent and monetize the project through a real business partnership. The device is intended to replace commercially available face shields. Mintchev formed the Aurakills partnership with three seniors majoring in engineering science—Talen Davis-Rentfro of Kaufman as chief executive officer, Paden Seidel of Brownwood as chief technology officer and Jacob Bonner of Copperas Cove as chief operating officer. Mintchev serves as president of the partnership. “I sincerely hope this new technology will disseminate nationally and internationally the unique HPU response to the challenge COVID-19 presents,” Mintchev said. “This is the type of market-oriented, innovative answer America is always able to give when challenged, this time coming from a small Christian university located in the heart of Texas.”

Baylor University announced a $1.5 million gift commitment to help establish a new endowed faculty position within the Hankamer School of Business honoring Dean Terry S. Maness on his upcoming retirement and years of service. The gift, given by an anonymous Baylor alumnus, is part of a fundraising effort among the Hankamer Business School’s alumni to honor Maness’s legacy, while providing endowment support for the Lab-to-Market program, an interdisciplinary program that serves as the pipeline for translating research into viable commercial and business concepts at Baylor. The Terry S. Maness Endowed Chair in Lab-to-Market Entrepreneurship also qualifies for the Baylor Academic Challenge program, the university’s dollar-for-dollar matching program for faculty positions created through donor support that undergird and advance the priorities of the Illuminate strategic academic plan. The faculty holder of the Maness Chair will be instrumental in identifying and implementing opportunities and avenues for graduate and undergraduate students to participate in discovery and commercialization efforts through the Lab-to-Market program.



Stan Napper

Houston Baptist University named Stanley Napper as provost and vice president for academic affairs. Napper recently was the dean of the College of Science and Engineering and has been serving as interim provost at HBU. “Dr. Napper brings years of academic achievement as a scholar, teacher and administrator to this role,” said HBU President Robert Sloan. “The university will benefit greatly from his experienced leadership, faithful commitment and collegial manner.” Napper served on the faculty and administration of Louisiana Tech University 33 years before joining HBU in 2017 to establish engineering programs.

Dean Dickens

Dean Dickens was named the 12th annual recipient of the Maples/Williamson/Daehnert Award as the Texas Baptist Interim Minister of the Year. Dickens has served congregations during the interim period at First Baptist Church in Texas City, Audubon Park Baptist Church in Garland, Agape Baptist Church in Fort Worth and South Garland Baptist Church in Garland. He served previously as a pastor, church starter, missionary and seminary professor. He and his wife of 50 years, Karr La, live in Garland.


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