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John J. Horan ’40


OHN J. HORAN '40, former chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Merck and Co., Inc. and dedicated alumnus, died on Jan. 22. He was 90. A resident of Sea Girt, N.J., Horan received an A.B. from Manhattan College in 1940 and earned a law degree from Columbia University Law School in 1946. He always remained loyal to his college roots and established the Horan Family Scholarship, for students in need of financial aid, and the John J. Horan Endowed Lecture Series, which encourages faculty development through enhanced involvement in research. He is one of only a few alumni to have buildings dedicated in his honor on and off campus. The East Hill student residence was renamed Horan Hall in 2000 to recognize his and his wife Julie’s dedication to the College and its values. The John J. Horan Research Building in Rahway, N.J., was dedicated in his honor to recognize the level of research Horan brought to Merck. The College also recognized Horan’s accomplishments and business leadership with an honorary Doctor of Science at its Commencement in 1978 and with the De La Salle Medal, which honors an executive who exemplifies the principles of excellence and corporate leadership in 1985, when he retired from Merck. Horan was greatly respected for balancing business with ethics throughout his career. By the time he retired from Merck, the company had become the largest pharmaceutical company in the world. It has also since been recognized by Fortune magazine as the most admired company in America; having appeared at the top of the magazine’s well-known list for several consecutive years, the first time toppling corporate giant IBM. “We often say that our best hope is that our graduates will go out and

make the world a better place. Mr. Horan did just that,” says Brennan O’Donnell, president of Manhattan College. "He was a man of great accomplishment, integrity and compassion.” An officer in the U.S. Navy’s Amphibious Forces during World War II, Horan saw heavy action in North Africa, Sicily, Italy and Normandy. Under Admiral John Wilkes, he was also one of the officers delivering orders that led to the launch of the Normandy invasion. While at Merck, he held positions in a variety of departments, beginning in the law department and including president and chief operating officer. Horan became chairman and chief executive officer in 1976. Even after retiring from Merck, he continued to serve on the board of directors and as its vice chairman until 1993. According to his obituary in The New York Times: “Horan was instrumental in supporting the Merck research that led to the development of a medicine to help prevent and treat the devastating tropical disease known as river blindness, and a long running partnership with the Carter Center, which has been a pioneering model for governmental and business cooperation in humanitarian efforts in developing nations.” He was honored many times throughout his career for his leadership and concern for humanity. In addition to the De La Salle Medal, he also received Dr. Leon Sullivan’s Opportunities Industrialization Center of America’s The George Champion Award and the United Negro Fund’s Distinguished Service Award, among others. Brother Thomas Scanlan, FSC, president of the College at the time Horan Hall was dedicated, says: “For most of the almost 25 years, I think of him first as a friend, which was a great gift to me. He was a wise and valued counselor who gave me excellent advice …

He was indeed a great alum, who was dedicated and involved in a large number of activities.” Horan served on the board of directors of many professional and business associations, including General Motor Corporation, NCR Corporation, J.P. Morgan & Co. Inc., Atrix Laboratories, Inc. and Myriad Genetics, Inc. He also served as a member of many organizations, including the Business Council, Business Roundtable and Economic Club of New York. The former chairman of the board of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association, Horan served on the national board of the United Negro College Fund and as a trustee for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. He is survived by his beloved wife of 66 years, Julia; his four children, daughter Mary Alice Ryan and husband John Ryan, son Thomas and wife Katharine Jacobs, son John Jr. ’73 and wife Patricia, son David ’74 and wife Michele; nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren; sisters, Mary Smith, and Florence and husband Tom Keating; and brother, Eugene Horan.

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Manhattan Magazine Spring 2011  

SPRING A Day in the Life of the College 56 OBITS 22 A DAY IN THE LIFE MANHATTAN COLLEGE EDITORIAL Lydia Gray, Director of College Relations...