Chris Horn doesn’t want to make a big deal about retirement, but the University of South Carolina community will miss him. Horn, who retired in December 2022, has been a mainstay at his alma mater for 34 years — as a writer for numerous campus publications, editor of Carolinian magazine, host of the Remembering the Days podcast and director of publications in the university’s Office of Marketing and Communications.
Horn began his career with the Rock Hill Herald. He then moved on to broadcast and worked with WIS-TV in Columbia. It was a good start to a career in media, but Horn realized he was more interested in writing than being a reporter.
Instead of doing a complete 180-degree turn, Horn found exactly what he was looking for at his alma mater. “It turns out, all I had to do was about a seven-degree shift, and I landed at this university,” he says.
Horn began his tenure at USC in the early 1990s, when he was 28 years old, the youngest member of his department at the time. Even then, he knew he had found the right place to work.
“Man, I was like a rabbit landing in a briar patch,” he says. “This was exactly the environment I could write in.”
This was the beginning of Horn’s switch from media relations to publications. What he didn’t realize was that this was also the beginning of the rest of his career. Horn wrote piece after piece on any subject he could cover. From interviewing university President Michael Amiridis (back when Amiridis was still an engineering professor) to talking to students just starting their journeys at USC, he covered nearly every aspect of the university.
“I’m not making this up,” Horn says. “I would wake up and I wouldn’t care if it was Monday, Wednesday or Friday. I was so happy because I was doing what I really liked. I was writing.”
Over his career, Horn covered six university presidents, famous actors, scientists, authors and historians. He has also produced more than 50 podcast episodes covering the history of the university and will continue to produce these episodes as a contract worker.
As an alumnus and father of three USC alumni, Horn enjoys ties to the university that extend beyond the day job. “When I started here my kids were two years old,” he says. “Now, I walk across the campus and the students are several years younger than my youngest child.” He laughs. “We get old.”
But it was time well spent. He credits his experience to that decision to come back to the university as an employee 34 years ago.
“Because I bounced around so much early in my career, I said, ‘Well I’ll just stay here three years,’” says Horn. “Three years came and went, 10 years came and went, and I never entertained the idea of doing anything else or working anywhere else.”
Many staff come and go at a large university, sometimes unnoticed. When Horn retired in December, people noticed. Many members of this university have been fortunate enough to work with, read and listen to him for over three decades. One of those staff members is USC photographer Kim Truett, who worked with Horn for over two decades.
“Through the 20-plus years we worked together, Chris has been an anchor,” Truett says. “We underwent many changes in our office. New people, new management, changing divisions within the university. His ability to stay calm and see the bigger picture kept us calm during all those changes. He’s wise beyond his years. It’s not going to be the same without him.”