SPOKANE, Wash. – Gonzaga University is mourning the loss of Dennis Horn, a beloved leader among the University family and dean emeritus of the School of Engineering and Applied Science. Horn, 73, passed away peacefully with his family by his side on May 11.
“Dennis Horn truly lived the Jesuit spirit of Gonzaga,” said Stephen E. Silliman, Ph.D., current dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science. “He was an extraordinary gentleman, engineer, and mentor.”
“You won’t find a better person to work with or to be around. Dennis will be sorely missed,” said Paul Nowak, Ph.D., associate dean, professor and chair of the civil engineering department at Gonzaga.
Horn’s career spanned more than four decades in both the public and private sectors with roles in teaching, research, consulting, senior management and administration. He received his bachelor’s degree in geological engineering from Princeton University and held a Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins University department of environmental engineering sciences and water resources. Before coming to Gonzaga in 1997, he served on the faculties of Northeastern University and the University of Idaho, and was the dean of engineering, mathematics and science at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.
Under Horn’s 15 years of leadership, Gonzaga’s School of Engineering and Applied Science saw enrollment more than double. He oversaw major renovations and an expansion of the Herak Center facilities along with the 2008 construction of the PACCAR Center for Applied Science, Gonzaga’s first certified “green” building, which received the prestigious “Gold” certification from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system of the U.S. Green Building Council.
“Dennis Horn’s leadership flowed from his vision of the possible that was informed by his artist’s sensibility. That combination made him a powerfully effective leader for the School of Engineering and Applied Science during his tenure as dean,” said Academic Vice President Patricia O’Connell Killen.
Horn developed and led several programs successfully through the accreditation process and guided the school to achieve new levels of excellence. The final year before Horn’s retirement in 2012, the school was ranked by U.S. News & World Report as the No. 17 best undergraduate engineering program in the nation (among schools without a doctorate in engineering).
Horn also served on numerous University committees; he chaired the search for a dean of the Gonzaga-in-Florence study abroad program and was active in the community, serving as a member (and ultimately chair) of the Army Science Board, a 100-person advisory board to the secretary of the Army. Horn was awarded the Outstanding Civilian Service Medal in 1990.
The Dr. Dennis R. and Sandra W. Horn Engineering in Florence Scholarship was endowed in honor of Horn’s retirement in 2012 and has since provided funding for multiple engineering students who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to study abroad in the program Horn himself helped to launch.
“Dennis’ time and efforts with his colleagues and friends left a permanent impression,” said Massimo Capobianchi, Ph.D., professor and chair of the department of mechanical engineering at GU. “He will be missed by all, both as a colleague in our common endeavor and as a friend.”
Dennis is survived by his wife, Sandra, and his sons Darrin, Kevin, Christian, Brendon, Colin (’09) and Justin. Cards and expressions of condolences may be sent to: 7019 N Fischer Ct, Spokane, WA, 99208. Memorial gifts may be made to the Dr. Dennis R. and Sandra W. Horn Engineering in Florence Endowed Scholarship at Gonzaga University, Office of University Advancement, 502 E Boone Avenue, Spokane WA 99258-0098.