By Jean-Bernard Hyppolite
Barbara Martino, 72, encompasses the spirit of Chestnut Hill. Born in Philadelphia, Barbara, who graduated from Chestnut Hill College in 1960, with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry, has devoted much of her time and effort since her graduation to the college and the area in general. This includes using her education to help others.
“I get a lot of peace out of doing it, and that’s why I volunteer,” she said.
Barbara’s contributions to Chestnut Hill College are extensive. She is the school’s current Chair of the Board of Directors and of the Executive Committee of the Board. She was the President of the Alumnae Association between 1982 and 1984. Barbara cemented her leadership with the school when she was the Chair of Chestnut Hill College’s first Capital Campaign from 1989 to 1992, which exceeded its goal of $4 million by raising over $5 million, thus beginning the renewal of the college’s science laboratories. This all led to Barbara earning the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Alumnae Association in 2001. Then, in 2004 she was a recipient of the Eleanor Dolan, Class of 1928, Award for outstanding Services to Chestnut Hill College.
“I spent a lot of time and effort there because it’s a great school,” Martino exclaimed. “In the last eight or nine years I think it’s gotten its place on the map since we went co-educational, and we purchased the property at Sugarloaf across the road. We’re now at Division II of the NCAA, so, it’s a school that’s on the move. The graduate school is always filled. We graduate anywhere between 12 and 18 Ph.D’s every year. It grew from a small independent Catholic woman’s college to what it is today, and it is still growing.”
Barbara has a Hall dedicated to her efforts. As noted in a previous article in the Local, Barbara D’Lorio Martino Hall was completed in October of 2000. It houses “smart” classrooms, the Connelly Telecommunications Center, and serves both the CHC basketball and women’s volleyball team. The Ann Rusnack Sorgenti Arena lies on the lower level and is a multi-purpose venue that features two sets of retractable bleachers that seat up to 450 fans for an athletic competition.
“I’m honored; it’s a building that wasn’t named after a deceased Sister of Saint Joseph,” laughed Barbara, noting that other buildings on the campus are named after deceased Sisters of Saint Joseph.
“I’m a living non-sister of Saint Joseph. It’s all very good, and I was happy that we were able to contribute to that. It was the first building on that campus in 40 years. We hadn’t built anything since I graduated in 1960.
“I put a lot of store in the education I received, both in high school and at Chestnut Hill College. I felt there were so many worthy people who can’t afford the college education,” explained Barbara, who noted that she and her husband, Dr. Rocco Martino, started a foundation called the Barbara Rocco Martino Foundation that fully supports Catholic education.
“We have about 100 Martino scholars at this point throughout not only Pennsylvania but elsewhere. That’s a feeling of happiness that we can help somebody out.” Barbara has made her presence known in the education of her four sons as well. She also received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree at Neumann College, where she was the commencement speaker in 1991.
Barbara has held many positions within the Archdiocese of Philadelphia including: member of the Council of Managers for Development as Chair of the Strategic Planning committee and Co-Chair of the Special Gifts Committee of the Catholic Charities Appeal in 1992. Barbara has received the Papal Honor of the Cross, Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice from Pope John Paul II, and more. She was elevated to Lady Grand Cross in 1995 and also represented the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania between 1999 and 2004.
“There’s a Jesuit saying that we are men and women for others. If you’re not thinking of others or trying to help others, than there’s no real self-satisfaction,” said Barbara, who encourages others to volunteer and contribute in whatever causes they find worthwhile.
In regards to the current contentious Sugarloaf controversy involving Chestnut Hill College and some of the nearby neighbors, Barbara believes the school has a well thought out plan that would benefit the community.
Barbara has been married for almost 50 years to Rocco Martino. Together they have four sons: Peter, Joseph, Paul and John. They currently reside in Villanova.