Doug Horne: One of UT’s Greatest Ambassadors
By Chandra Harris-McCray
A passionate farmer, Doug Horne’s grandfather sold cotton and fresh fruit to provide for his family. Horne’s dad made a living by selling insurance, and later, encyclopedias.
At the age of 8, Horne made his mark in the sales world by selling worms, glue, then cookies, and later Watkins products. By the time Horne was a business administration student at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, his sales pitch came in the form of hawking pennants and pins at UT football games.
Still an ambassador for his alma mater, the UT Board of Trustees member and chairman and chief executive officer of Horne Properties said, “I want to do all I can — and then more — for the university.”
Horne and his wife Brenda have committed $2 million to further support the College of Business Administration’s Horne Professorship in Business and to support technology in the Haslam Business Building, along with a gift to the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy, and the creation of an excellence endowment. Additional gifts by the Hornes have supported Tennessee Athletics.
“A college education should be within reach for all of Tennessee’s children,” said Horne.
Horne’s mother was a schoolteacher, so it was expected that Horne would attend college after graduating from Farragut High School.
“No, my parents did not have much money, but that did not matter,” said Horne. “My parents gave me love and an optimistic attitude that said I could do and be anything I wanted.”
After graduation from UT in 1967, Horne went on to Tennessee Valley Authority, where he spent 14 years working in personnel, engineering, and construction. In 1981, Horne started his one-man real estate development and management company. Brimming with entrepreneurial spirit, Horne packed his Toyota and headed to Bentonville, Ark., to convince Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton to let him build a Wal-Mart shopping center. Along with building dozens of Wal-Marts, he developed his credibility and branched out into other retail ventures.
Today, Horne Properties leads the way in commercial and retail development, having completed shopping plazas in 25 states, including centers in Farragut, Knoxville’s Chapman Ford Crossing, and Northwest Crossing. Horne owns an insurance group and also serves as chairman of Horne Radio Group and Republic Newspapers, which includes the Farragut Press and Clinton Courier News.
His involvement in politics ranks high along with his philanthropic efforts. Having once toyed with the idea of running for governor, the former Tennessee Democratic Party chair said being involved in government means having a voice to make a change for the better.
“I’ll keep working as long as I enjoy it and I am able to make a difference,” said Horne.