William P. O'Brien, Ph.D. is the National Park Service Intermountain Region's Desert Southwest CESU Cultural Resource Specialist. Dr. O’Brien is stationed in Tucson, at the University of Arizona. He has held positions in the field of public history since 1977. He served as Historic Preservation Officer for the City of Independence, Missouri from 1977 to 1984, as Cultural Resource Supervisor for Planning, at the National Park Service’s Denver Service Center. (1995-1998) and as Program Manager for Cultural Resources and National Register Programs, Intermountain Region, Santa Fe/Denver, National Park Service (1998-2001). He received his training in American history at Central Missouri state University ( BS-1968-1972); the University of Missouri at Kansas City ( MA-1976-1979) and at the University of Colorado at Boulder (Ph.D.1986-1994).

In 2001, Dr. O’Brien accepted a position with the National Park Service in the Cooperative Ecosystems Studies Unit (CESU) program as the cultural resource specialist for the Desert Southwest CESU in Tucson, Arizona, where he regularly coordinates a variety of cultural resource initiatives with universities and other partners. He is adjunct faculty through the Southwest Center and Planning programs of the University of Arizona. Currently, in addition to specific NPS projects for parks, he coordinates and supports the Spanish Colonial Missions Initiative and the Warriors Project, research programs dealing with cultural resources in the American West.

Ph.D., American History (1994) University of Colorado; MA, History/Archival Science (1979) University of Missouri at Kandad City; B.S., History (1972) Central Missouri State University.





  • The book written by adjunt lecturer Pat O'Brien, Merchants of Independence: International Trade on the Santa... Read More
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Adjunct Lecturer
Office Location: SMITH HOUSE
Curriculum Vitae