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.”