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Dean Alden Horn, former director of MIT Sea Grant College Program, dies at 95

Retired U.S. Navy captain made many contributions to Arctic research and undergraduate marine education.
Captain Dean Horn was the director of MIT Sea Grant from 1976 to 1982.
Captain Dean Horn was the director of MIT Sea Grant from 1976 to 1982.
Photo: MIT Sea Grant

Dean Alden Horn, a retired U.S. Navy captain, director of MIT Sea Grant College Program from 1976 to 1982, and MIT alumnus, passed away July 13 in North Carolina, where he had lived for the past 25 years. He was 95 years old.

Horn had a 27-year distinguished career as an officer in the U.S. Navy. He also oversaw MIT Sea Grant receive its coveted college program status — the first private institution to achieve this — and he was the executive officer for two international Arctic research programs.

Born in Hay Springs, Nebraska, on Feb. 19, 1921, Horn graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in June 1943. Upon graduation he served as a submarine officer on both the USS Porpoise and the USS Carp, earning a Silver Star medal for “Conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action as Diving Officer of the USS Carp during the First War Patrol of that vessel.” In 1945, Horn began graduate school at MIT in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering. After completing his professional engineering degree in 1949, he switched communities to become an engineering duty officer and served at seven different commands throughout his 27-year Naval career. His final two years of active duty were as commanding officer of the Naval Administrative Unit, MIT where he commanded the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) unit and taught the student Naval officers taking the graduate course to become Naval engineers — a rewarding capstone to Horn’s career.

In September 1970, Horn accepted the position of executive officer at MIT Sea Grant Program. He was a part of the team that lead MIT Sea Grant to receive college program status, the highest designation available in the Sea Grant network in 1976. Shortly thereafter, Horn was named the Director of MIT Sea Grant, a post he held until July of 1982. In recognition of Horn’s extensive work with undergraduate marine education, his pursuit of excellence, and his tireless application to research, an award was established in his name. The Dean Horn Award is presented yearly, along with a $1,000 stipend, to an undergraduate student who demonstrates excellence in design and execution of marine research as well as the ability to clearly communicate their results.

After leaving MIT Sea Grant, Horn became the executive officer for two international Arctic research programs, MIZEX and CEAREX.

In 1992 Horn retired to New Bern, North Carolina, where he lived the rest of his life with his wife, Sharon.

It was Horn’s fervent wish and request that, in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to the MIT Dean A. Horn (1949) Award Fund 3626950, or to any charity of your choice.

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