The Corner

A Flagship University Gets Something Right — Ice Cream

When I hear the words “experiential education,” I usually cringe because that usually acts as cover for leftist indoctrination. But a new Martin Center article provides a welcome counter-example — the Howling Cow Ice Cream operation at North Carolina State.

Jenna Robinson writes of this useful, cost-covering mini-business:

NC State began, after all, as the North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts. Agricultural education remains part of the school’s mission. Today, NC State offers bachelor’s degrees in animal science, poultry science, agriculture and environmental technology, and food science, and has a large College of Veterinary Medicine. The school’s Lake Wheeler Road Dairy Research and Teaching Farm has long been the site for students to learn about dairy farming, including hands-on experience in raising and milking cows. Before Howling Cow became a reality, students were already experimenting with making cheese, cream cheese, and ice cream. Branding and selling the product on campus gives today’s students the opportunity to learn how to take a product to market. In modern educational parlance, this is “experiential education.”

Howling Cow is only sold on campus and at the North Carolina State Fair and therefore stays within the boundaries of the statute that keeps the universities from competing with the private sector. If you want to try it, you’ll have to come to Raleigh.

Revenue from sales goes to cover the cost of the university’s dairy farm, which now needs far less tax support than before the advent of Howling Cow.

Robinson concludes,

NC State is my alma mater. It is also, figuratively, in my backyard, since I still live nearby. That sometimes means that it comes in for an unequal share of my criticism. Its activities are visible — and I hold them to a high standard. But in this case, I found something to commend. I’ll definitely be back to try the other 17 flavors.

George Leef — George Leef is the director of research for the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

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