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Former Hanover president dies
Horner led college from 1958-1987
Courier Staff Report
Friday, February 14, 2014 10:00 AM
FOND MEMORIES: John and Anne Horner discuss their memories from their days at Hanover College, before attending a Hall of Fame banquet in 2009. (2009 Courier file photo by Ken Ritchie)
Dr. John Horner, 92, who led Hanover College for nearly 30 years died Wednesday.
Horner and his wife, Anne, lived in North Carolina after his retirement.
Horner was president of the college from 1958 to 1987.
Gov. Mike Pence, a Hanover graduate, said, "On a personal note, I will always be grateful for the opportunity that Dr. Horner gave me to work for Hanover College upon my graduation in 1981. His example of integrity and strong leadership taught me much in the early days of my career and inspire me to this day."
In 2009, the Horners returned to Hanover for his induction into the college's Athletic Hall of Fame.
In 1995, Hanover College honored the Horners with the opening of the $11 million John and Anne Horner Health and Recreation Center.
Horner was one of six Indiana small-college presidents who formed the Indiana Collegiate Athletic Conference at the Columbia Club in Indianapolis in 1987.
At a conference meeting he stated: "One of the great difficulties which institutions face in playing out-of-state opponents is that the competitive bond between the institutions is not strong. When the opponents came from the same state, the competitive factor, not only for the players but also for alumni and friends becomes greater."
Under Horner's 29-year leadership, Hanover saw unprecedented growth in its academic programs, financial standing and student enrollment.
A big challenge back then was promoting the college beyond the tri-state area.
"There were speaking engagements, visiting friends and potential donors in the state, especially in Louisville, Cincinnati and Indianapolis," Horner said.
"You can't build new buildings without donors. We had to be aggressive. The physical allure of the campus could not go without notice. In that age, many colleges were seeking students. We had students seeking us."
He gave credit for Hanover's progress to ideas from the faculty members, who saw the need for curriculum change. At one time, the college had more classes than students.
By the mid-1960s, the campus had expanded to more than 500 acres and enrollment topped 1,000 students, and Hanover's assets approached $15 million. When Horner retired in 1987, Hanover's endowment had reached more than $40 million.
One of Horner's greatest challenges came on April 3, 1974, when a tornado damaged 32 of the college's 33 buildings. Hundreds of trees were down, blocking every road. All utilities were knocked out and communication with those off campus was nearly impossible. Government officials estimated the damage at $10 million.
Incredibly, the spring term opened April 22 with full enrollment, only 19 days after the tornado. Contributions to cover Hanover's $1 million in uninsurable losses were raised in just three months.
Ties forever bind Horners to Hanover
I delivered the Indianapolis Star at Hanover College when I turned 9 years old until age 11 years old and always loved Dr. Horner and his wife and children. I also delivered to the fraternities and sororities and my grade school teachers Mrs. Wheater, Mrs. Keach and Mrs. White. The Horners were so accommodating I remember one morning such bitter cold, a hand sewn dress under a car length coat, wool socks and red rubber boots, my feet were nearly frostbitten. Mrs. Horner invited me in to be warm so I could continue my arduous task of delivering 85 issues of the Star to Hanover College.Dr&Mrs Horner will always be remembered by a small child who now lives far from the beautiful hills of Indiana, who's now an adult living on balmy coast of Sonoma County, California, where it never snows. If not for the time I spent with educators at Hanover College, my life might be much different now. My mother, and sister still live in Hanover, although our family home in Hanover is no longer there, and my mother's farmhouse still stands in Madison. My daughter, her husband and my grandchildren live in Indianapolis and the Star arrives on their doorstep daily!
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