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05-09-2015

Hockey Canada Chairman Joe Drago Receives Clarkson University Honorary Degree

Hockey Canada Chairman of the Board Joe Drago '63 of Sudbury, Ontario, received an honorary doctor of science degree at Clarkson University's 122nd Commencement on Saturday, May 9.

Joe DragoThe degree was awarded for “his dedication to academics and student achievement; for his commitment to sports and teamwork as a path to betterment; for his steadfast support of the arts and cultural outreach to build community; for his devotion to improving health care; for his leadership and for inspiring collaboration among future leaders; and for his service to the people of his community, his province and his nation.”

"I love Clarkson," said Drago in addressing the graduates. "I love the hockey program here. And I love everything about what this school has done for me. It has given me an opportunity to have an education and to have a lot of respect in my community and to be someone that I would never have been if I didn't get an opportunity to come here as a student. I feel very loyal and devoted to this institution and will do everything in my power to bring more students here and to flog our reputation right across Canada. A good number of athletes have come here from my city and have been staunch performers both in the classroom and on the ice. And we're all so proud to say we came from Clarkson."

In closing, Drago quoted Mark Twain, saying, "And to the graduates, I say this to you: Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the things you did. Throw away the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails, explore, dream, and discover. Go, Knights, go!"

This recognition brings Drago back to his alma mater, where he etched his reputation as a champion into the ice each time the Golden Knights took to the rink. A gifted athlete who attended Clarkson on an NCAA hockey scholarship, Drago was the first player recruited by the legendary head hockey coach Len Ceglarski.

He skated as both a wing and a defenseman in the early 1960s, when the Golden Knights compiled a 56-15-3 record and participated in two NCAA tournaments, finishing as national runner-ups in 1962 and gaining a third-place trophy in 1963, his senior year.

Drago's passion for hockey has never waned. Even as he was building his career in education and was highly active in the community, he coached at midget, high school, junior major, junior intermediate and senior levels. For 17 years, he was involved with the Sudbury Wolves Major Junior “A” organization, serving as director of operations, coach, general manager, president and part owner and governor. He also was the commissioner for the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey Association.

Reflecting that service, he received the Arnold H. Barben Award from Clarkson University in 2004. The award, which recognizes the important role that hockey has played in the history of the University, is presented annually to a Varsity C hockey alumnus who has demonstrated outstanding professional achievement, who has contributed to the betterment of his community, and who has worked unselfishly for his alma mater.

Last December, in an honor commensurate to his lifelong love for hockey, he was elected chairman of the board of Hockey Canada. The national governing body for grassroots hockey in the country, Hockey Canada is also Canada’s voice within the International Ice Hockey Federation.

Hockey Canada works in conjunction with the 13 provincial branches, the Canadian Hockey League and Canadian Interuniversity Sport in growing the game at all levels. It oversees the management of programs in Canada from entry-level to high performance teams and competitions, including world championships and the Olympic Winter Games.

On May 23, Drago will be bestowed with life membership in the Ontario Hockey Federation (OHF), where he served as president from 2005-2011. According to the OHF, life membership is the highest honor that can be bestowed by this branch for “very distinctive services and contributions to the Federation.”

In addition to his many hockey-related accomplishments, Drago is a tireless community leader. Over the years, he has served with a long list of charitable organizations, including the Sudbury District Health Council, the Salvation Army, the Sudbury Food Bank, the House of Kin (a charitable organization that provides low-cost accommodation for families of out-of-town hospital patients), the Alzheimer Society of Canada, the Canadian Association of Retired Persons, and the Heart and Soul Capital Campaign for Health Care. Drago also served nine years on the Laurentian University board of governors and is a life member of the Salvation Army.
 
In 2003, he was presented with the Commemorative Medal for the Golden Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, which recognizes Canadians who have made significant contributions to their fellow citizens, their community and to Canada.

He has been honored locally and provincially as well for his community involvement. He served as the founding chairman of the Sudbury Regional Hospital Foundation since its inception in 1998, and was its first and only life member. In 2003, he received the Centennial Award by the Ontario Medical Association, their highest honor given to a non-physician. He was also named a Paul Harris Fellow by Rotary International.

Drago also shone in his profession. He worked for 33 years in education, 27 of them as a secondary school principal, and retired in 1996. During that time, he enriched the lives of countless students, their families, and community residents.

With an eye on the beginners, he introduced the first nursery school in a secondary school setting in the Sudbury school system, and founded a performing arts program at Sudbury Secondary School. Drago established outreach programs to the First Nations population in the region. He pushed for community initiatives for safe schools and safe streets. He also set up guidelines for teacher education.

Among his many professional awards, he earned the Award of Excellence from the Sudbury Board of Education and the Award of Excellence from the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation.

In 2008, he received Clarkson University's most-prestigious recognition: the Golden Knight Award. This honor is for alumni who have distinguished themselves either by service to Clarkson through Alumni Association activities or who have demonstrated outstanding career achievement.

After receiving his bachelor of science degree in business administration from Clarkson in 1963, Drago pursued his master of science degree in education from Niagara University in 1972. In addition, he earned guidance and business specialist certificates and the Ontario Secondary School Principal’s Certificate.

Drago's wife of 52 years, Sylvia, passed away in December. The couple was married right after his graduation from Clarkson. Drago lives in Sudbury, Ontario, and has two daughters, Lisa and Deana, and four granddaughters.

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and the health professions, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

Photo caption: Hockey Canada Chairman of the Board Joe Drago '63 of Sudbury, Ontario, received an honorary doctor of science degree at Clarkson University's Commencement. Above, he addresses the graduates.

[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/jdrago-hd.jpg.]

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or aharrison@clarkson.edu.]

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