Paul Whitfield Horn, college president, the son of George Washington and Mattie (Myers) Horn, was born on April 30, 1870, in Boonville, Missouri. He graduated from Boonville High School at the age of fourteen and from Central College with an M.A. degree at eighteen and entered the teaching profession. While at Pryor Institute in Jasper, Tennessee, on August 28, 1890, he married Maud Keith. They had one daughter.
Horn moved to Texas in 1892 and was principal of schools at Valleyview for a year and superintendent of schools at Belcherville for two years. From 1895 to 1897 he was principal of Sherman High School; he served as superintendent of Sherman schools from 1897 to 1904. He then left Sherman to head the Houston schools, which under his leadership achieved national recognition, the introduction of the junior high school plan being his most important contribution. Horn was president of the Texas State Teachers Association in 1910 and became vice president of the National Education Association. In 1917 Baylor University, Southwestern University, and Central College honored him with honorary doctorates. Horn surveyed the Portland, Oregon, schools in 1917 and the El Paso schools in 1921, and was a member of the Alabama school survey commission in 1919 and the Texas commission in 1923.
He left Houston in 1921 to head the American School Foundation in Mexico City but after one year returned to Texas as president of Southwestern University. In 1925 he assumed his duties as first president of Texas Technological College (now Texas Tech University), where he served until his death. Horn wrote numerous articles. He was the author of Our Schools Today (1908), a series of readers, and Best Things in Our Schools (1914);he was coauthor of New Century Spelling Book (1908) and School Room Essentials (1911). He was a Democrat and Methodist. He died on April 13, 1932, and was buried in the Lubbock cemetery.