Ithaca College Quarterly 2003/#3 Ithaca College Commencement 2003

Commencement speakers Ben & Jerry dish up ice cream and sociopolitical commentary.

by Bonny Georgia Griffith '92

The class of 2003 was treated to "Peace Pops" ice cream bars and some pointed political remarks during the College's 108th Commencement on May 18. Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, cofounders of Ben & Jerry's ice cream company, were the senior class's choice as keynote speakers, and they shared their vision of socially responsible business with the graduates and their guests. Jerry Greenfield recalled his childhood friendship with Ben Cohen and described how the pair parlayed a $5 correspondence course in ice cream making and a converted gas station in Burlington, Vermont, into a multimillion-dollar corporation.

As the business grew, however, "We found that we were becoming businesspeople instead of ice cream people," recalled Greenfield. "We were spending our time talking with lawyers and accountants and hiring people and firing people --- not making ice cream and scooping it over the counter to our friends." Rather than become just another corporate cog in the economic machine, he said, "We decided to make [the business] something that we were really proud of --- something that supported the community, supported the environment, and supported our employees."

Photos are also in a Commencement 2003 photo album

Photos by Tom A. Mike and Shai Eynev Photography

Ben Cohen illustrates a point with a can of BBs (above); a grad illustrates an appreciation for ice cream (top).


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A. Ozolins, Ithaca College Office of Publications, 22 October, 2003