Hockey Canada Chairman of the Board Joe Drago ’63 was awarded an honorary doctor of science degree at Clarkson University’s 122nd commencement on May 9.
Joe Drago, who received his bachelor of science degree in business administration from Clarkson in 1963, was awarded an honorary degree from Clarkson at the University’s 122nd commencement.
The honorary 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.”
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 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 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.
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.
In 2008, he received Clarkson’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.