Selma Keenan’s Gift to the School

March 1, 2003 @ 5:00 am

In December of 2002 the Columbia University School of Social Work received $2,000,000, from the Selma Keenan Trust, for the creation the D’Elbert and Selma Keenan Professorship, an endowed chair. Selma Keenan had remained an active and involved alumna of the School of Social Work since her graduation. She was a member of the Mary Richmond Society and had established the D’Elbert Keenan Scholarship in memory of her husband.

Selma M. Keenan
July 16, 1908-August 24, 2002

Selma M. Keenan died Saturday, August 24th, at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Hanover, NH, after a brief illness. She was 94.

Mrs. Keenan was born in New York City on July 16th, 1908, the daughter of Adele and Henry Meisels. When she was a young child her family moved to Cracow (which was then part of Austria). Her family fled Austria at the time of World War I and returned to New York City where Mrs. Keenan finished her undergraduate schooling. She was a graduate of Cornell University Class of 1930. She completed a Master’s Degree in social work at Columbia University in 1945.

After receiving her Master’s Degree Mrs. Keenan worked as a social worker for the Board of Education of New York City in the Bureau of Child Guidance until she retired in 1975. After her retirement from the Bureau of Child Guidance, she moved to Topsham, Vermont, with her husband. After his death she went to work for the Orange County Mental Health Service, Inc. as a Social Work Consultant/Supervisor and was later promoted to Director of Clinical Services. She held this position until she retired for the second time in 1988 at the age of 80. She then began a second Master’s program at the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis, which she completed in 2000. She was working on her doctoral thesis in psychoanalysis, and was also a practicing psychotherapist, at the time of her death.

Her husband, D’Elbert Keenan, Ph.D., died in 1975. He had been a professor of French at New York University until his retirement. Her stepson, Michael Keenan, died in 1986.