Retiring Faculty and Staff Comprise 107 Years of Service to HSU


Dr. Larry Brunner, Senior Professor of English, Retires with 39 years of Service to HSU
Dr. Larry Brunner, Hardin-Simmons University senior professor of English, will retire at the end of May 2014 after 39 years of service to the university.

He served eighteen years as head of the HSU Department of English and 10 years as director of graduate studies in English. Prior to coming to HSU, he served as a teaching fellow at Duke, taught at Colorado State University, and served as a visiting faculty member at Harlaxton College in Grantham, England.

Brunner completed his graduate degrees at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, earning a Master of Art in English literature in 1969 and a Doctor of Philosophy in English literature in 1973. He earned his Bachelor of Art in English at McMurry University in 1967.

He is a member of a number of professional organizations and has held various positions and offices in them, including the presidency of the Texas College English Association.

Brunner’s honors and recognitions include the HSU Cullen Teaching Award, 1985; he was nominated for HSU Teacher of the Year, 1990; HSU Scholar Honoree, 1996; Faculty Member of the Year, 1996-97; and he received the Cynthia Ann Parker College of Liberal Arts Dean’s Award for Teaching Excellence, 2003.

As a writer, Brunner has many published articles and book reviews. In 2011, Brunner was a presenter in the KJV@400 Celebration at HSU’s Logsdon Seminary, which explored the culture and the influence of the most influential English Bible in history. Brunner gave literary context for the King James Version by examining the early 17th century writers.

Brunner gave the December 2013 winter commencement charge to HSU graduates, telling students they should use their degree to build for eternity.

“Know that God knows what’s perfect for your life. You may not understand your journey, but you will arrive in the right place,” he said.

Brunner serves as an elder at Beltway Park Baptist Church in Abilene and is deeply committed to the Emmaus community.

Professor of Church Ministry Dr. Omer Hancock will Retire after 33 Years at HSU

Dr. Omer J. Hancock, Hardin-Simmons University director of in-service training and professor of church ministry, will retire after 33 years at the end of May 2014.

Prior to his service at HSU, Hancock was called to pastor churches in Texas and Oklahoma. When he joined the faculty in 1981, he taught a variety of courses, including the work of the minister, field education, prophets, preaching, world religions, spiritual gifts, and a course on cults and denominations.

He has worked with hundreds of burgeoning ministry students, providing them with vocational opportunities for preaching and ministry experiences and helping to find them the necessary financial aid for their continued education.

Hancock earned two graduate degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, a Master of Divinity degree in 1967 and a Doctor of Theology in Old Testament in 1974 with additional specialization in ethics and archaeology. He earned an undergraduate degree from Oklahoma Baptist University with a major in speech and a double minor in religion and philosophy.

Oklahoma Baptist University recognized Hancock in 2011 with the Alumni Association’s Profile in Excellence Award. In 2001, Hancock was named the outstanding alumnus in Christian vocational ministry by OBU’s Joe L. Ingram School of Christian Service.

Hancock served as the chairman for the board of directors for the Association of Ministry Guidance Professionals and was honored with the Lewis W. Newman Award in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the field of supervised ministry.

Giving the charge to HSU graduates during the December 2013 afternoon commencement, Hancock asked students to consider the seasons of life.

“In your season of spring, you will pursue your dreams and goals,” he said. “In the summer of life, you will advance your achievements, your career. The season of autumn reveals maturity and the essence of character. It is a time to proclaim the message and maintain principles. While winter may seem devoid of opportunity, it is, instead, the time to draw upon your wisdom and your relationships. Collectively, we gather today, with whatever season of life we are in, to ask God for joy and fulfillment for all of the seasons of your life.”

A member of Pioneer Drive Baptist Church in Abilene, Hancock has remained active as a deacon, Sunday school teacher, and member of the licensing and ordination committee. He has served on various committees of the Abilene Baptist Association and has actively served through a variety of committees at HSU.

Harold Preston, Senior VP for Finance, to Retire after More than Two Decades

Leading the financial direction of Hardin-Simmons University for more than 20 years, senior vice president for finance and management Harold Preston will be retiring at the end of the 2014 spring semester.

During his career at HSU, he has overseen the operation of the HSU business office, accounting, technology services, human resources, the HSU post office, maintenance, print shop, Six White Horses program, and the operation of all buildings and facilities on the campus. He can also be credited for much of the beauty of the campus.

Preston’s influence can be seen in institutions across Texas as he mentored many finance officers over the last 25 years. He has served at two Texas Baptist universities and is a veteran of the Vietnam War, serving in the U.S. Army as a 1st Lieutenant in a field artillery unit.

Preston first came to HSU as a student, earning a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in 1969 and a Master of Business Administration degree in 1972 after his military service. While a student, he served in the ROTC and was on the HSU golf team.

With an MBA in hand, Preston started his career at Howard Payne University, Brownwood, Texas, advancing to the university’s administration as vice president for financial affairs.

Preston has been a mentor to many university business officers throughout his career, investing much time in helping others tackle the complex job. Over the last 13 years, he has hosted periodic meetings of the chief finance officers, controllers, IT directors, maintenance directors, human resource directors, and financial aid directors for five institutions.

Other contributions and involvements beyond HSU include serving as the financial reader for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, a volunteer job he has held since 1991. In 2007, SACS honored him with the James T. Rogers Meritorious Service Award.

Beyond his victories as a budget-conscience financial officer for HSU, Preston has also served First Baptist Church of Abilene on numerous committees and as a teacher in adult Sunday school classes for more than 20 years.

Preston and his wife Susan, a retired nurse practitioner, have two children. Their son Matt and daughter-in-law Shona live in Abilene and have three children. Their son Ben and his wife Melissa live in Portland, Oregon.

Leta Tillman, Professor and Librarian, Retires After 13 Years of Service to HSU

Leta Tillman, professor and Education and Interlibrary Loan Librarian, will be retiring after 13 years at HSU.

Tillman has served as an elementary school teacher in Grand Prairie and McAllen, Texas, and as a middle school librarian in Fort Worth ISD.

Tillman earned a Master of Library Science at the University of North Texas, Denton, in 1994 and earned a Bachelor of Science in elementary education from Howard Payne College in 1971.

She has taught HSU’s Student Success Seminar Class for incoming freshman for a number of years and conducts library instruction sessions for students in the Irvin School of Education.

Giving the charge during the spring afternoon commencement, Tillman told graduates they faced the end of life as they know it.

“I hope your life at HSU has prepared you for what lies ahead,” said Tillman, addressing what she called the five most important things a graduate must know: reading, research, responsibility, relationships, and respect.

“Read. Read with understanding and learn how to apply it,” advised Tillman.

Quoting Eleanor Roosevelt, Tillman said of responsibility, “’One's philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes. We shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.’”

She predicted bags and boxes will be packed and unpacked over the next few weeks as graduates move from the life they have known for the last several years.

“Today is the end of life as you know it, but it is also the beginning of your new life as you know it,” said Tillman.

Tillman has reviewed close to 700 children’s books over the last 12 years as she has overseen the HSU Richardson Library collection of books made available to students in teacher preparation programs. Her published works are part of the Heart of Texas Literary Center journal Lorgnette and can be found accessed online as well.

Tillman is married to Professor Emeritus of Christian Ethics, Dr. Bill Tillman, who remains a commonly-called-upon voice in the area of Christian ethics. Bill retired after 12 years of service to HSU in 2012 and now serves as director of theological education for the Baptist General Convention of Texas.


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