Kyle Mize is the assistant vice president for communications at Howard Payne University, having served HPU for nearly 24 years. He is a member of Salt Creek Baptist Church in Early. From deep in the heart of one Texan, he shares his background and thoughts on Christian higher education. To suggest a Baptist General Convention of Texas-affiliated leader to be featured in this column, or to apply to be featured yourself, click here.
Where else have you served, and what were your positions there?
Before joining the staff at Howard Payne, I worked for a few years as an art director at advertising agencies in Fort Worth.
Where did you grow up?
I was born in Victoria and moved to Brownwood with my family when I was in high school.
How did you come to faith in Christ?
I accepted Christ when I was a child. I’m thankful for the influence of my parents and older brothers, as well as a warm, supportive church family, who encouraged my awareness of God and need for Christ when I was young.
Where were you educated, and what degrees did you receive?
I attended Howard Payne University for two years before transferring to Texas Christian University for a major that wasn’t offered at Howard Payne. I earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in communication graphics from TCU and later earned a Master of Professional Writing degree through an online program at Chatham University.
Why do you feel called into education?
Christian higher education is a great cause to support. Students are equipped to develop their giftedness and grow in their understanding of God’s calling on their lives. That happens every day at Howard Payne, and the world needs more of the kind of graduates Howard Payne produces. I’m thankful for the opportunity to use the gifts God has given me to support and promote what’s happening at this university.
How does being a Christian influence your work in education?
Serving on this campus, I enjoy seeing students each day who are full of promise, eager to live for Christ and excited about how he’s working in their lives. After they graduate, these students will go on from here to do great things for God’s kingdom in countless ways only God can see at this point.
Those of us who serve at Howard Payne are privileged to be entrusted with these students. We have a great responsibility to God—as well as to the students, their families and everyone else who loves this university—to be good stewards of this institution, following his leading and doing our best with the work he gives us each day.
What is your favorite aspect of education? Why?
My wife, Julie, is a teacher who also loves gardening. I think that’s an interesting combination because both activities, in their own ways, involve cultivating and encouraging growth.
I enjoy working in an educational environment because of the growth that takes place here. Of course, students learn and develop their abilities, but I’ve also grown so much through my work experiences through the years.
What one aspect of education gives you the greatest joy?
The facet of my career I most enjoy is getting to do meaningful work with great people.
Our office is responsible for a wide range of projects to promote the university and support the work other offices are doing, and I like being on a team with energetic, creative people who love God and feel a real calling to the work we do together.
I also enjoy the spirit of teamwork that exists between our office and others here. Howard Payne has a positive, family-like atmosphere that makes it a fun, collaborative place to work.
How has your place in education or your perspective on education changed?
I certainly have a much greater awareness of all that goes into higher education than I had when I was on the student side of the equation. Seeing everything that happens behind the scenes to attract students and create a high-quality experience for them has given me a deep appreciation for the people who serve in the various capacities across the spectrum of university life.
What do you wish more people knew about education?
I’d like more people to know the importance and value of the Texas Baptist universities. These institutions have rich histories and have produced distinguished graduates in a wide range of fields. Of course, specifically, I’d like for more people to know about Howard Payne University.
What is the impact of education on your family?
Education always has been very important in my family. For instance, I remember how my parents always exhibited a love of reading they also cultivated in me as a child. They encouraged my brothers and me to do our best in school, emphasizing how important education would be for our lifelong trajectories.
Now, as an adult, I enjoy working at Howard Payne University, and my wife teaches middle school and also serves as an adjunct faculty member at Howard Payne. Education plays an important, ongoing role in our lives.
Why are you Baptist?
I remember hearing someone joke that he had been a Baptist even longer than he had been a Christian, and I think I know what he meant. Having grown up in a Christian home, some of my earliest memories are of church experiences.
While Baptists as a denomination haven’t always seen eye to eye, for the most part there’s a spirit of cooperation characteristic of Baptists at our best, whether it’s through pulling together to support missions projects, helping with disaster relief or just the seemingly routine but eternally significant activity of gathering for Bible study and worship. I’ve always been happy to be a Baptist and to be a part of Baptist life.
Who were/are your mentors, and how did/do they influence you?
The greatest human influences I’ve had in my life have been my parents. I’ll always be thankful for the countless ways they have encouraged, guided and supported my brothers and me through the years, as well as for how they welcomed our wives when they each joined the family.
I’m also thankful for countless people who have invested in me through experiences in church life since my earliest days, such as ministerial staff, nursery workers, Sunday school teachers, Royal Ambassadors counselors, Vacation Bible School volunteers, youth workers, college ministry leaders and so many more. I can’t imagine how different my life would have been without the benefit of having known so many big-hearted people through the years.
What is your favorite Bible verse or passage? Why?
In our work at Howard Payne, one of the passages that frequently comes to mind is 1 Corinthians 12:12-27, in which Paul writes about how, as Christians, together we form one body with many parts.
One of the things I love about serving at Howard Payne is people with various backgrounds and gifts work together as a team with a shared purpose, fostering a Christ-centered, close-knit academic community that invests in students.
Who is your favorite person in the Bible, other than Jesus? Why?
My middle name is Andrew, so from childhood, any references to Andrew in the Bible quickly got my attention. He wasn’t always prominent, but something memorable about Andrew is he brought people to Jesus, such as his brother Simon Peter or the little boy with the loaves and fish.
I’m certainly not in Andrew’s league, but I hope the work I do at Howard Payne is used by God to draw people here so they either can come to know him for the first time or gain a deeper understanding of his calling on their lives.
In our office, we like to pray together for our work, and that’s a big part of what we frequently ask, that God will help us do our best and use our efforts to achieve things only he can.
If you could get one “do over” in education, what would it be, and why?
I enjoyed being a student through the years, and if I could go back in time, I’d express more gratitude to the teachers and other personnel who served at the various schools I attended. I hope they knew of my appreciation, but I’m sure I could have been more intentional about it. The older I get, the greater I understand and value the time and energy they devoted to my education. They made a huge impact on my life, and I’ll always be grateful.