Alumna DJ Martin shares experiences

Sister Carol Sellman and Assistant Professor Anastasia Prentiss met with Dorothy Jean (DJ) Martin in June 2012 to discuss the alumna’s experiences after graduating from Holy Names College.

Martin said that students were aware that World War II was coming during their senior year of college. After graduating in 1941, she wanted to attend a graduate theater program, but travel was difficult in the pre-war climate and her options were limited. Eventually she entered a three-month graduate program at the Pasadena Playhouse, which she “loved.”

A radio personality and actress, Martin launched her career in the late 1940s. She landed her first radio gig at KSJO in San Jose. Listen to Martin talk about her early experiences on radio and television by clicking here.


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HNU students pose in bloomers

HNU students bloomers

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Listen to audio on HNU’s history

Listen to the new audio on HNU’s historical blog. Remembering HNU: A Collection of Audio Recordings, is a new page on the blog that provides a glimpse into the history of the University. It currently features a recording of Sister Carol Sellman that explains the opening of the junior college, and alumna Angela Pirrone Sandri discusses the impact of Holy Names’ Sisters—particularly Sister Claire Madeline. The collection is growing, so check back for new material.

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Submit your photo ideas for HNU Today

This HNU scene, featuring students collecting funds for UNICEF from Sister M. Madeleine Rose Ashton in the early 1960s, was included in the latest issue of the HNU Today magazine. Do you have an idea for an HNU scene, whether historical or modern, that you think should be featured in HNU Today? Post your thoughts here or email


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Singing of the alma mater at Founders’ Day


HNU music students sang the alma mater—Oh, Holy Names, All Hail!—at the 2014 celebration of Founders’ Day. The alma mater was written in 1942 by Sister Maria Dolores Mayerle.

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Enlisted service women at Holy Names during WWII

The College of Holy Names hosted service women in its dormitory at 2036 Webster Street during World War II. The dormitory was located in the gymnasium and accommodated 30 women. Upon opening to the service women, the dormitory was visited by officials from the Women Army Corps (WAC); the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES), established as a WWII division of the U.S. Navy; the Coast Guard’s SPARS; and the U.S. Marine Corps’ Women’s Reserve.

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Campus celebrates Founders’ Day

The HNU campus recently celebrated the anniversary of the arrival of the Sisters of Holy Names of Jesus and Mary in Oakland 146 years ago.


Sisters serving strawberry shortcake to the HNU community.

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Holy Names’ Sisters describe experiences after Vatican II

To celebrate National Catholic Sisters Week, Holy Names’ Sisters presented an excerpt of the film Band of Sisters, which chronicles the lives of Catholic nuns after the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II). At each of the three film presentations that took place this month, in conjunction with Women’s History Month, two Holy Names’ Sisters described their own experiences after Vatican II.

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Kodály Center improves documentation of historical folk songs

The University’s Kodály Center for Music Education has been receiving lots of press recently for its plans to update the American Folk Song Collection website—the only site with recordings of traditional folk songs and their transcriptions—with additional content and improved functioning. You can read more about it in articles published by the San Francisco Chronicle and KQED.

The center was founded on the Holy Names campus in 1969 and teaches students pedagogical strategies inspired by Hungarian composer and educator Zoltan Kodály (1882–1967), who catalogued folk songs and emphasized the importance of music in the intellectual, emotional, physical, and social development of children.

The website’s song database will double in size from 350 songs to more than 700 songs. Songs that are underrepresented on the site will be added, broadening the site’s coverage of geographical regions, ethnic groups, and song types—for example, sea chanteys, spirituals, and ballads. New material will include Spanish songs and songs from the Library of Congress.

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has granted HNU $75,000 that will be applied to this project. The website was originally created with the support of a previous foundation grant.


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Alumna profile: Angela Pirrone Sandri ’63

Angela Pirrone Sandri graduated from the College of Holy Names in 1963 and celebrated her 50th reunion last fall. In a 2013 interview, she recalled the impact that Holy Name’s commitment to social justice and academic freedom made on her.

“It (i)s the kind of thing that … remains with you over the years, the way the nuns really cared about the community and also their students,” Pirrone Sandri said. “You weren’t just there to learn about some particular subject. You were there to learn about life.”

Pirrone Sandri, who studied literature, drama, and speech, remembers attending a conference at Dominican University with other Holy Names’ students that opened with a statement that drama in Catholic schools should only be related to religion. The nuns at Dominican University felt that the students should not perform any plays that did not have to do with the saints’ lives or similar issues.

“We decided we were not going to stand for that. So we got up and left,” she said. The late Sister Claire Madeline, who served at that time as chairperson of the Holy Names’ literature department, supported the students’ choice. Pirrone Sandri said that Sister Claire was a wonderful mentor.

“Her attitude about learning was (to teach) the whole person,” she said. “The (Sisters) led you to find what it was that you wanted to do.”

Read the full story here.

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