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Colgate establishes men's ice hockey chair

By Mark Walden on November 8, 2007

It has been almost 25 years since men’s hockey coach Don Vaughan was slammed against the boards.

Then, during last Saturday’s annual Silver Puck Award dinner, Colgate president Rebecca Chopp made a special announcement inaugurating an endowed chair for men’s ice hockey. After her introductory remarks, lead donor William Johnston ’73 took the podium to proclaim the endowment’s official name: the Donald F. Vaughan Endowed Chair for Men’s Ice Hockey.

That was news to everyone including Vaughan, who had the wind knocked out of him for the first time since 1984, when he skated for St. Lawrence. “I was shocked,” he said later. “It was completely overwhelming.”

Men’s hockey coach Don Vaughan takes a deep breath after learning that he will be the holder and namesake of his program’s newly endowed head coach position. (Photo by Ian Domes)

Efforts to establish a Vaughan Head Coach began in September 2006, shortly after the university inaugurated the John W. Beyer Endowed Chair for Men’s Soccer. Johnston provided $1 million to launch the initiative; he then garnered the support of friends Tim Barrows and Peg Flanagan ’80, Barbara and Ed Werner ’71, P’08, Cecily and Tom Lynett ’79, and Nina and David Fialkow ’81, who invested a combined $1 million as well.

“Successful leaders care more about results than they do about the credit for achieving them.” Johnston told the crowd. They are passionate, and they prefer win-win solutions over win-lose outcomes. By naming the head coach position for Vaughan, Johnston and his fellow donors were honoring a mentor who would uphold these values while elevating Colgate’s reputation for excellence.

Income from the $2 million endowment will perpetually fund salaries, recruitment expenses, and other necessities for a program that has earned two NCAA tournament berths and made 13 appearances in the ECAC Hockey tournament during Vaughan’s 14-year tenure. “The endowment makes a statement of commitment and purpose,” said President Chopp. “Endowing a coaching position says that we have national ambitions for hockey.”

Athletic and academic chairs are priorities under the university’s $400 million fundraising campaign, Passion for the Climb: The Campaign for Colgate. With the completion of each fund, the university underscores its belief that 21st century leaders are forged not only in classrooms, but on courts and fields as well.

Under Vaughan’s leadership, men’s hockey has continued to focus on graduating individuals committed to good citizenship and sportsmanship. The program seeks not only a championship cup, but the best and brightest undergraduates to hoist it.

“This endowment will go to good use,” said Vaughan after the standing ovation had subsided. “You can trust that we’ll be out there working hard to bring other wonderful and talented student-athletes to campus over the next number of years. Thank you.”


  • Gerald D. Quill '60 said:

    What better name for the hockey coaching chair than that of Donald F. Vaughan? I have known Coach Vaughan since he came to Colgate sixteen years ago. Replacing a Colgate icon, Terry Slater, was a challenge enough in itself, but Coach Vaugahn has continued the winning traditions and at the same time has acheived an unbeleivable 4-year graduation rate in a very demanding Division I program. When Don Vaughan received the Maroon Citation in 2005 that graduation rate was announced at 100%.
    To me, one of the telling impacts of Coach Vaughan’s long tenure as head coach is his ability to bridge the gap between the different generations of hockey players. Colgate players do not consider themselves as players coached by coach so and so, but consider themselves to be Colgate hockey players-period! This is constantly reinforced at hockey and social events under the aegis of The Silver Puck Club.
    Coach Vaughan has always been mindful of the great traditions of Colgate hockey and what they mean to the program. When you visit the Starr Rink, you know Colgate plays hockey there; from the Whit Williams’ All-America wall in the lobby; to the photo displays as you enter the rink to take your seat; and to the team pictures that line the wall as you move toward the Colgate locker room and the Coaches’ lounge. None of these displays was extant before Coach Vaughan took the helm of men’s ice hockey.
    Although a Saint Lawrence grad, it is clear to me that Coach Vaughan bleeds maroon and not Larry red.
    Don Vaughan is a superb ambassdor for Colgate and all it stands for, and not only for the men’s hockey program. I am pleased he considers me to be a friend.
    Gerald D. Quill ’60
    The Silver Puck Club

  • Richard J. Kessler '70 said:

    I saw this news article while on the Colgate web page on November 11th, Veteran’s Day. I immediately thought how pleased my grandfather would have been to see this news. He was John H. Starr after whom the rink was named and one of the early Silver Puck recipients. He was also a World War II veteran, having enlisted at the age of 42 while coaching at Colgate. He could have avoided it but did not – he had enlisted in WWI as well.
    He kept silent on his coaching experience and even though he had coached swimming at Colgate as well, failed the Army’s swim test in order to ensure he would not spend the war teaching recruits stateside. He got his wish and spent much of the war overseas in a secret unit, known as MIS-X (also PO Box 1142).
    The activities of MIS-X’s companion unit, MIS-Y, were recently declassified, and the National Park Service just commemorated both units at their former headquarters in Fort Hunt, Virginia. But MIS-X’s activities are still kept secret. The British gave him the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his service. The citation reads in part: “His tact, charm, and good judgment endeared him to all British officers with whom he came in contact. It is impossible to exaggerate the amount of good his presence did for Anglo-American relations. On more than one occasion he was instrumental in helping iron out difficult and tricky situations. In the realm of inter-Allied cooperation, Colonel Starr was in the very highest class.”
    He came back to coach at Colgate after the war, keeping his secrets, but he brought the same qualities to his coaching. His proudest moment, I think, is when Colgate got an indoor rink and he didn’t have to worry if the ice would be frozen enough to skate on!

  • andrew m. robble said:

    This honor couldn’t be bestowed on a more deserving individual then Don Vaughan. Vaughan’s abilities as a hockey coach speak for themselves. His ability to help his players become fine citizens who will make the world a better place to live in, as well as producing and refining excellent hockey players, will be Don’s legacy.