Thanks to a partnership between the University of Delaware’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) and the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics, the UDairy Creamery will now be equipped with an ice cream truck, allowing for students from UD to get hands-on experience with a real-world business.
The UDairy Creamery ice cream truck will make its debut on Friday, June 14, with staff members handing out free ice cream at the UD Farmers Market being held in Mentors’ Circle from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
In addition to the farmers market, the ice cream truck will also be at the Old Fashioned Ice Cream Festival at Rockwood Park in Wilmington on Saturday, June 29, and Sunday, June 30, and at the Delaware State Fair in Harrington, which starts on Thursday, July 18.
The truck is decked out with assorted black and white cow and ice cream cone spots, cow ears that can be placed below the side view mirrors and a speaker to play the UD alma mater and fight song, among other UD-themed music.
The truck will serve parts of UD’s main campus as well as be able to bring ice cream to events on UD’s Wilmington and southern Delaware campus locations. It will be stocked with a rotating list of between 10-20 flavors carried in freezers that make transporting the ice cream to those far reaching events that much easier.
Melinda Litvinas, manager of the UDairy Creamery, said she has dreamed of having an ice cream truck since she arrived at UD in the winter of 2010.
“It makes everything much more efficient from an operational standpoint because we’re not loading freezers onto a van and worried about electricity, and we’re not limited in the amount of space that we have,” said Litvinas. “This allows us to be out and about longer and with more ice cream and more flavors to serve more people.”
Mark Rieger, CANR dean, said the partnership of the two colleges in bringing the ice cream truck to the University is “yet another way that UD demonstrates its commitment to quality undergraduate education.”
He added the project would bring students from the two colleges together in an atmosphere designed to foster creativity. “CANR students will work side-by-side with Lerner students to find new markets and learn to be entrepreneurial with our UDairy Creamery ice cream. Real-world experience is a value that both colleges strongly support.”
Bruce Weber, Lerner dean, echoed those sentiments, saying, “An essential element of the Lerner College’s strategy is to emphasize experience driven learning more than any other business school, and this is just a perfect fit with that objective.”
Weber also stressed the importance of interdisciplinary partnerships. “Interdisciplinary is not optional,” he said. “We’ve got to be doing it and we’ve got to be doing more of it. There’s no longer an argument for siloed disciplinary based activities in universities. The exciting activities in universities now are at the intersections of fields – combine entrepreneurship with a dairy farm that makes ice cream and the whole is much greater than the sum of its parts.”
The partnership established between the two colleges involves the UDairy Creamery and the Horn Program in Entrepreneurship, an academic program at the University made possible by alumnus Charles W. Horn and his wife Patricia that is centered on entrepreneurial education.
Dan Freeman, associate professor of business administration and director of the Horn Program in Entrepreneurship, said the program is open to all students at the University, not just those who attend the Lerner College.
The Horn Program, he said, “offers a variety of courses, degree programs and co-curricular activities, all aimed at helping students to learn about entrepreneurship and develop an entrepreneurial mindset and the knowledge and skills needed to be entrepreneurial.”
Freeman said that teaming with the UDairy Creamery made sense because it allows entrepreneurial students the ability to get hands-on experience in a real-world setting.
Freeman plans to integrate the truck into the Horn Program curricula for youth programs and its Introduction to Entrepreneurship course. Students will learn about the economics of the truck, generate and screen opportunities for deploying the truck, formulate operational and go-to-market plans, and then implement the plans.
They will also get to see how well their financial forecast maps on to real-world profit and loss from following their plans.
“It’s a known business but at the same time it can be a new business each and every time you drive out of the driveway. From an entrepreneurial education standpoint, that is perfect,” said Freeman.
“I know it’s cliché but it’s definitely win-win,” said Weber. “We’re doing something that’s going to bring the UDairy Creamery product to lots more places, but it’s also going to provide an entrepreneurial experience to a lot of students. It’s a perfect example of experience driven learning.”
Article by Adam Thomas
Photos by Danielle Quigley