Students, faculty, staff, alumni and members of the surrounding communities crowded into the Adelphi University Performing Arts Center to hear the stories of two local heroes, entrepreneurs, philanthropists and founders of one of the world's most beloved companies, Ben & Jerry's Homemade, Inc.: Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield.
On September 12, 2018, Adelphi students, faculty, staff, alumni, members of the surrounding communities, and alumni of Sanford H. Calhoun High School in Merrick, New York, crowded into the Adelphi University Performing Arts Center (Adelphi PAC) to hear the wit, wisdom and stories of two local heroes, entrepreneurs, philanthropists and founders of one of the world’s most beloved companies, Ben & Jerry’s Homemade, Inc.: Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield.
According to Steve Everett, D.M.A., provost and executive vice president, Cohen and Greenfield were a perfect fit for Adelphi, which espouses the same values of making a positive difference in the world.
Cohen and Greenfield began the evening by sharing how their friendship formed in junior high school in Merrick, and later, after being rejected from medical school (Greenfield) and dropping out of a number of colleges (Cohen), they decided their goal was, as Greenfield put it, “to be our own bosses and have fun.”
Through hard work, a few lucky breaks, resilience, and a lot of creativity and marketing savvy, Ben & Jerry’s grew from one ice cream parlor to a major player in the premium ice cream category. But success didn’t change the founders’ commitment to making a positive difference in the world. They remained committed to sustainable business practices, promoting social justice and environmental causes, and helping their local Vermont community. They formed the Ben and Jerry’s Foundation, which receives 7.5 percent of Ben & Jerry Homemade’s pretax profits.
“Business is the most powerful source in our society,” said Greenfield. “We are all interconnected. As we help others, we cannot avoid helping ourselves.”
Although no longer involved in the day-to-day operations of the company, Ben and Jerry continue as brand ambassadors and haven’t stopped advocating for causes they believe in. The men who brought us slogans like “Yo, I’m Your CEO,” and “What’s the Doughboy Afraid of?” encouraged the audience to join them in a “stamp stampede” to get Americans to stamp dollars to protest corporate political donations and voter suppression.
As Cohen said, “Let’s make America kind again.”
There were two more parts to the evening. Before heading to the auditorium, Cohen and Greenfield gave a master class to students in the Robert B. Willumstad School of Business. And following the evening’s main event, attendees gathered in the Adelphi PAC lobby to enjoy—what else?—Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.
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