The 37-year-old Center for Senior Citizens’ Education at the University of St. Thomas is changing its name to The Selim Center for Learning in Later Years.
The change will take place July 1 and honors the now-retired founder of the popular center, Dr. Mohamed Selim of Edina. A native of Egypt, Selim immigrated to the United States in 1953. At the time of his 2004 retirement from St. Thomas, his 45 years of service was longest of any lay St. Thomas faculty member.
Selim was named Professor of the Year at St. Thomas in 1978, and in 2004 he received the university’s Distinguished Service Award. During his years at St. Thomas he chaired the Economics Department, founded and directed the Center for Economic Education, and founded and for 31 years directed the Center for Senior Citizens’ Education.
Since its founding in 1973, the center has recorded more than 70,000 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.
Selim’s Distinguished Service Award citation noted: “Your philosophy in establishing and maintaining these programs for three decades has been simple: to provide lifelong learning, to keep senior citizens in the mainstream of society and to inspire more collaboration between generations of students. ‘The young and old can learn together,’ you have said.”
“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. His dedication to quality educational programming and his commitment to service continue to be the qualities that the university cultivates in this center – nearly 38 years later.”
Name change celebration in May
A program to celebrate the name change and honor Selim will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 12, 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.
Joncas will present an informal review of his compositions and offer stories behind their creation. Participants can expect to join in the music making, and to hear some new compositions. A dessert reception will follow.
More details about the celebration and how to register can be found on the center’s website.