The Center for Senior Citizens’ Education will celebrate its new name and honor its retired founding director at a program Thursday, May 12, at the University of St. Thomas.

The center’s new name, the Selim Center for Learning in Later Years, honors its founder, Dr. Mohamed Selim. A native of Egypt, he immigrated to the United States in 1953. Six years later he joined the St. Thomas faculty and at the time of his 2004 retirement as an economics professor, Selim’s 45 years of service was longest of any lay St. Thomas faculty member.

Dr. Mohamed Selim

Dr. Mohamed Selim

Selim was named Professor of the Year at St. Thomas in 1978, and in 2004 he received the university’s Distinguished Service Award. While at St. Thomas he chaired its Economics Department, founded and directed the Center for Economic Education, for 31 years led the Center for Senior Citizens’ Education.

“We are proud to rename the center to honor its founder,” said Dr. Jan Viktora, the center’s current director. “It was Dr. Selim’s educational vision back in the early 1970s that laid the foundation for a center that would serve the lifelong learning needs of the community.”

Since its founding in 1973, the center has recorded more than 76,000 registrations for the short courses it offers each fall and spring, consulting programs, courses on computers and the Internet, and a program that allows senior citizens to attend regular undergraduate academic courses.

The May 12 program, which will feature noted theologian, musician and composer Father Jan Michael Joncas, will be held from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the auditorium of O’Shaughnessy Educational Center on the university’s St. Paul campus.

The program is titled “Singing New Songs to the Lord: An Evening with Father Michael Joncas.” An archdiocesan priest, Joncas is on the Catholic studies faculty at St. Thomas and the theology faculty at St. John’s University in Collegeville. He is the composer and arranger of about 300 liturgical compositions, including the widely used “On Eagles Wings,” and is the author of three books and more than 100 articles.

Father Jan Michael Joncas (Photo: St. Thomas magazine)

Father Jan Michael Joncas (Photo: St. Thomas magazine)

Joncas will present an informal review of his life as a composer and offer stories behind the creation of some of his music. Participants can expect to join in the music making and to hear some new compositions. A dessert reception will follow.

That evening Joncas will be the first to receive the Selim Center Distinguished Educator Award.

For more than 20 years, Joncas has been involved with the center by designing and teaching courses, taking part in panel discussions and presenting concerts.

A citation that will be presented to Joncas at the program reads: “Your teaching has enabled over 2,000 center guests to explore art, music and theology with you and to critically reflect on how those areas of study impact both personal lives and culture.

“Throughout your professional life, you have been an advocate and a model for lifelong learning,” the citation said.

For more details about the celebration and how to register, call the center at (651) 962-5188, send them an email at csce@stthomas.edu, or visit the center’s website.