Distinguished Alumni Award


Theodore M. Seldin 53BA, 55JD

2013 Achievement Award

Theodore "Ted" M. Seldin, 53BA, 55JD, an entrepreneur with a social conscience, is a champion of the development and provision of affordable housing for all.

In 1953, Seldin received a UI bachelor's degree in economics along with his Air Force Commission, followed by his law degree in 1955. Immediately after graduation, he began active duty as a staff judge advocate (JAG), during which time he was admitted to practice before the U.S. Court of Military Appeals. Seldin served two years of active duty, and continued in the JAG Reserve for 14 years.

He joined the Omaha-based Seldin Home Building Firm in 1957 as a principal and later CEO; today, he is chairman of Seldin Company. Through his leadership there and his efforts with the National Association of Home Builders, Seldin has helped shape national and local legislation related to affordable and fair-housing statutes.

Under his leadership, the Seldin Company—a leading homebuilder, diversified property developer, and asset manager—has created affordable housing for a wide range of clientele, including more than 3,500 single-family homes and 4,000 apartments. Of particular note, it developed the 1,000-acre Westwood Communities in southwest Omaha, one of the first sustainable communities in the Midwest to feature single-family homes, apartment complexes, retail centers, professional offices, and sites for schools, churches, parks, and a public library. Seldin's firm has also re-developed blighted urban commercial areas in Omaha and Council Bluffs, and he takes special pride in the more than 1,000 affordable, senior-living apartment homes his company offers across Iowa and Nebraska, allowing older citizens to live independently with security, dignity, and respect.

In Iowa City, Seldin left a lasting imprint with the Mayflower Apartments, which he and his partners built and managed starting in the 1960s. They leased space to UI graduate students and incoming faculty members, and Mayflower became the first home to the International Writing Program. In 1983, when the university needed additional student housing, they sold the property to the UI at a greatly reduced price, a purchase enabled by a $2 million contribution from Seldin and his partners.

A loyal Hawkeye, Seldin has also contributed to the College of Law annually since 1960, and he is a generous supporter to other UI areas, including the Carver College of Medicine's adult stem-cell research program to cure macular degeneration. He also served on the Foundation's Iowa Endowment 2000 National Committee and on the UI Alumni Association's Board of Directors. In 2007, Seldin and his wife established the Theodore M. and Sarah N. Seldin Scholarship in Real Estate Law in honor of UI law professor and president emeritus Willard "Sandy" Boyd—Seldin's former professor and longtime friend.

In honor of the indelible mark he's made on the UI and the housing industry, Seldin received the 2011 UI College of Law Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award, the 2011 National Affordable Housing Management Association's Industry Statesman Award, and the 1993 Fannie Mae Pillar of the Industry Award from the National Council of Multifamily Housing Association. In addition, he's been inducted into several Omaha metro real estate halls of fame.

Through his crusade to ensure that all Americans have an affordable home, Theodore "Ted" M. Seldin has established a proud reputation as an unwavering advocate for social justice and change.

Seldin is a life member of the UI Alumni Association and a member of the UI Foundation's Presidents Club.


About Distinguished Alumni Awards

Since 1963, the University of Iowa has annually recognized accomplished alumni and friends with Distinguished Alumni Awards. Awards are presented in seven categories: Achievement, Service, Hickerson Recognition, Faculty, Staff, Recent Graduate, and Friend of the University.


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The Graduates of the Last Decade ("GOLD") Leadership Group advocates for the interests of recent graduates of the University of Iowa (alumni who earned a UI degree within the past 10 years).

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