George Selke served in World War II while on leave from St. Cloud State Teacher’s College (now St. Cloud State University) in Minnesota, where he was president from 1927 to 1946. He worked at SHAEF in London, mapping occupation plans for Germany and Austria from 1943 to 1945. Selke then worked with U.S. military governments in Italy and Austria, and served as the culture and education director for Salzburg in 1945. He returned home in 1946 and was made Chancellor of the University of Montana, a post he kept until 1951 when he was called back to Germany. As part of the Allied High Commission for Germany (HICOG), Selke was named Deputy Chief of Education and Cultural Relations Division in 1951. He spent the next two years as Chief of the Division of Cultural Affairs, and was also part of the United States Educational Commission, an educational exchange program between Germany and the U.S. that was outlined under the Fulbright Agreement. Selke and four other Americans, in addition to five German members, were named to the commission.
Selke had attended St. Cloud in 1913, then received his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota in 1916 and his Master’s degree from Columbia in 1926. From 1924 to 1927 he taught at the University of Minnesota. Selke then spent 19 years at St. Cloud State Teacher’s College. Selke Field, which he dedicated in 1937, was named in his honor upon his retirement. The historic field was built by workers from the WPA and NYA (National Youth Adminstration, of which Selke was the Minnesota director from 1935 to 1939), and was also used as the site of huts built to house veterans and their families who had come to claim their education benefits.
After Selke completed his service with HICOG in 1953, he returned home to Minnesota. He became a legal advisor to Governor Orville Freeman, and followed him to Washington, D.C. when Freeman was named Secretary of Agriculture under the Kennedy administration. In 1962, Selke settled in Portland, where he remained until his death in 1970.