A Staten Island native, Vaughan enrolled at Wagner College a few months after Main Hall opened on February 28, 1930. Vaughan must have spent countless hours in the building, which was practically a whole campus under one roof: It housed biology and chemistry laboratories, classrooms, offices, the library, the president's office, a combined gymnasium and auditorium, locker room, and the heating and lighting plant.
Eighty years later, Main Hall is well known as Wagner's signature building. It's still a real workhorse, too, under constant use for classroom space, faculty offices, art and dance studios, and the main stage of Wagner's celebrated theater program. Thanks in large part to a $2.8 million gift received from the estate of Herbert Vaughan this fall, the building will receive a much-needed overhaul. This project will include a new roof, repointed brickwork, new windows, and restoration of exterior ornamental features.
President of the student body, football team manager, Kallista staff member, and Alpha Kappa Pi fraternity brother, Vaughan was known as “Boss” by his senior year of college. After Wagner, he earned a law degree from Brooklyn Law School and was admitted to the New York bar in 1937.
For 30 years, Vaughan served as an attorney for the engineering division of Procter & Gamble in Staten Island. He retired in 1969. Along with the love of his life, his wife, Josephine Taylor Vaughan, he moved from Staten Island to Lincroft, New Jersey, in 1959, and to Lakewood, New Jersey, in 1972.
Children of the Depression, the couple lived frugally, invested wisely, and gave generously. Vaughan was a loyal supporter of Wagner College throughout his life, becoming a member of the Inner Circle giving society and always making sure to secure matching gifts from his employer as well. While Herb passed away in 1998, Jo outlived him until this year. Their entire estate was left to charities — the United Methodist Homes of New Jersey, the Salvation Army, and Wagner College.
“He was a really cool guy,” says Vaughan's lawyer and friend, Jeri Sayer. “He was physically handicapped — he had polio and used crutches — but was full of life and excited about everything.”
Another friend from the end of Vaughan's long life, Jim Weber, remembers how highly Vaughan always spoke of Wagner College. “He would say, 'Wagner College taught me everything,'” Weber recalls.
As for Weber, he reserves his highest words of praise for Herb Vaughan. “He was the greatest guy in the world, and I was blessed to know him.”
Wagner College could certainly say the same of an alumnus who even now is helping his alma mater continue its tradition of academic excellence.