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Mrs. Martha O’Brien

Martha OBrien

Title: Dean of General Education, Instructor of Music
School: Arts & Letters
Academic Department: Fine Arts
Phone: 814-472-3215
E-mail: mobrien@francis.edu
Office Location: Scotus 213


  • A.B.: Wilson College, Chambersburg, PA 1965 Major - Fine Arts Minor - French
  • Non-degree study:
    • Conservatoire National de Musique, Paris, France, 1965-6, Studies in voice
    • La Sorbonne, Paris, France, 1966-7, Courses in Medieval Art
  • M.A.: Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Indiana, PA 1988: Concentration - Music Theory and Composition


Academic Profile

Selected Professional Experience

  • 1977-present: Lecturer in/Instructor of Music, Saint Francis College (now Saint Francis University), Loretto, PA
  • May 1997-Dec. 1999: Dean of General Education, Saint Francis College, Loretto, PA
  • March 2005-July 2005: Interim Associate Dean of General Education (part time), Saint Francis University, Loretto, PA
  • July 2005-present: Dean of General Education, Saint Francis University, Loretto, PA

Selected Campus Service

  • General Education Committee—several terms
  • Readers' Forum and Summer Book Selection group
  • Music Director:
    • Sesquicentennial Opening Mass -- Fall 1996
    • Baccalaureate Mass -- 1997-1999; 2005-2008
    • Alumni Weekend Mass -- Summer 1997
    • Sesquicentennial Solemn Mass -- Fall 1997
    • Sesquicentennial Closing Mass -- December 1997
    • Mass of Thanksgiving for Fr. Gabriel’s inauguration—Fall 2004
  • First-Year Advisor--1997-2005; 2008
  • Faculty Advisor to the B.R.I.D.GE. Project (the university’s Haiti outreach)
  • Day of Reflection Committee—every year since its inception
  • Academic Restructuring Task Force (2006-07)
  • Academic Strategic Planning Task Force (2007-08)
  • Diversity Strategic Planning Task Force (2007-08)
  • Christian Culture Task Force (2008)
  • New Faculty Orientation presenter (2006-08)
  • Distance Education Task Force (2006-08)
Community Involvement

Selected Past

  • Johnstown Symphony Chorale--1970s: Member and soloist
  • Music Reviewer--1980s: Johnstown Tribune-Democrat
  • Director of a play for the local Bi-Centennial Festival--1976
  • Board of Directors; Talus Rock Girl Scout Council: Member--1970-76; 1st VP--1976-82; President--1982-88
  • Girl Scout Camp Director (resident and day camps)--1969-73
  • Trainer - special music session--1982: Nuestra Cabana, International Center of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts,Cuernavaca, Mexico
  • Support Staff (mainly informal interpretation) World Conference of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts
  • Founder and Director - Holy Name Women's Choir, Holy Name Church, Ebensburg, PA
  • Seasonal Volunteer: DDC
  • Interpreter and teacher for various mission trips to Haiti


  • Board of Directors, Kindred Journey, Inc. (a mission outreach to Hinche, Haiti)
  • Member: Women’s Choir—Holy Name Church
  • Involvement in planning and implementation of “Peace from Pole to Pole” peace walk (2005-2008)
  • Girl Scout leader (2007-present)

Selected Performances, Publications, and Presentations

  • On-campus concerts -- at least one per semester
  • Joint concert with Mount Aloysius—April 2008
  • Producer of 3 tapes of Haitian religious music composed and performed by the Petits Frères et les Petites Soeurs de l’Incarnation, including liner notes and/or trilingual booklet
  • Presentation: “Sister Emmanuelle Victor’s Haitian Rhythms”—Festival of Women Composers—Indiana University of Pennsylvania—March 2001
  • “A Feminine Voice in Contemporary Haitian Roman Catholic Religious Music: The Songs of Petite Soeur Emmanuelle Victor, P.S.I.”: The Journal of Haitian Studies, Fall 2004.
Research & Travel

Research (ongoing)

  • Oral history with Mme. Catherine de Béchillon, a Holocaust survivor. CDs and DVD of interviews.
  • Translation of part of French text based on aforementioned interviews.


  • Canada -- yearly
  • Europe -- June 1986; June 1990; March 1995; February 1996; June 1996; June 1999; March 2000; March 2004; March 2005; March 2006; March 2008 (France, Belgium, Finland, Italy, Spain, Germany)
  • Haiti
    • September 1991 -- as a parish representative on a visit to our “twin” parish
    • November 1995 -- to plan production of tape
    • November 1996 -- to record for tape
    • March and November 1997 -- group leader for “Spiritual Tourism” trips
    • March 1998&9 -- group leader for service-learning/intercultural exchange trips
    • January 2000--interpreter for workshop given by a group of American nuns for a group of Haitian nuns
    • May-July 2000-- immersion experience in Haiti- activities included: Teaching basic weaving skills, recording for tape, beginning the study of Haitian drumming, improving skills in speaking Haitian Creole
    • May-June 2001—immersion experience in Haiti - Activities included: recording for tape, improving skills in speaking Haitian Creole, continuing the study of Haitian drumming
    • May-June 2002—leader of service-learning/intercultural exchange trip with extension of trip for immersion experience - Activities included: Various activities with trip participants, weaving, teaching block printing, interpreting for a medical mission improving skills in speaking Haitian Creole
    • January 2003—interpreter for a medical mission to Les Petites Soeurs, January 2004—interpreter for a medical mission to Les Petites Soeurs
  • Various places in U.S.A.

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