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President’s Message – July 2020

I was recently asked to participate in the virtual Student Orientation and Registration (SOAR) program for incoming freshman to the UW this fall.  Since it was so well received, I am passing along my “ice cream wisdom” to each of you!

Everything I learned in life, I learned from Babcock Hall ice cream!

During these wild, turbulent and unsettling times, it’s best that we go back to the basics and remember these simple lessons in life that can be learned from either a cone or a cup of dairy goodness!

Have an attitude of gratitude

UW’s famous Babcock Hall ice cream is about the flavor, texture, the ingredients and the creamy goodness, but do you know what was actually involved in making the ice cream?  When you show up to purchase your ice cream, it’s an event.  However, getting to that point is really a process.  Dairy science majors participate in a class where they learn how to make ice cream.  The class assignment is to create a new flavor.  There are proposals, testing, trials, production and subsequent distribution to bring you the best!

Lesson #1:  Be thankful.   Be thankful to everyone who has helped YOU get to this place in time.  Parents, family, teachers, friends, university administrators, scientists and alumni have all been working to help YOU be successful through this process called life.

Plan on the unexpected

When you show up for ice cream, there can be long lines, they could run out of the flavor you wanted, it’s hot, etc.

Lesson #2:  Be patient and be flexible!  It’s worth the wait.  Just remember, there are no problems.  There are only opportunities to learn and grow from the situation.  Today’s environment is an unprecedented situation.  With the pandemic, conditions will be dynamic.  They say the ONLY person who likes change is a baby with a wet diaper.  However, things will change.  Expect it to happen!

Be open to new experiences

I personally came from a very vanilla/chocolate/strawberry world in central Wisconsin.  I had never heard of such flavors as Badger Blast, Union Utopia or Berry Alvarez.  Thank goodness I was courageous enough to try Orange Custard Chocolate Chip!!!  Best flavor ever!

You are going to learn new things, especially new things about yourself!

  • Holding yourself accountable to a schedule. Get up and get to class!
  • Managing a budget.
  • Living with non-family members.
  • Learning to do laundry!!!

Lesson #3:  You will make mistakes!  Be kind to yourself.  That’s how you will succeed.  Take your time.  You will figure it out.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

Your greatest successes are the result of your greatest failures!  Your success will be defined when, you have failed fast, failed greatly, but most importantly, you’ve learned your lessons and overcome them!  Fail forward!

Nobody is like you, you are unique

I was shocked to learn that some people don’t like ice cream.  They are lactose intolerant.

Recognize that with one very minor exception, the world is entirely composed of billions of people who are not like you.  In most cases, it’s neither right vs. wrong, it’s just “different”.  Many times, it’s just a perspective.

We all have biases. In fact, without them our brains would be totally exhausted.  That’s why we like different flavors of ice cream.  But, be careful to not slip into stereotyping.  That’s when you overgeneralize and don’t take any time to think or consider another perspective - like some don’t like your favorite flavor or ice cream at all.

Most of our biases are based upon very basic physical criteria such as tall, short, thin, fat, hair, clothes, sex, skin color, race or age.  HOWEVER, to truly appreciate others, you need to learn more about the person such as their religion, economic background, political beliefs, family situation, culture and life experiences to name a few.

Lesson #4:  Embrace and respect diversity.  But don’t stop there - be inclusive with diversity.  We are not ALL meant to be the same.  Can you imagine if the world was just vanilla ice cream!?  What if there were no toppings, no other flavors, no sprinkles (gasp!)!  How boring!!!  From many different viewpoints, we can create the best unified solution for all.  Take the time to understand before being understood.


In summary, when you find yourself upset, depressed, angry, lonely, homesick, and questioning your situation, but remember these important lessons!  Head to the Memorial Union, grab some ice cream, sit down and ponder the advice you have been given by looking deep into that dish or cone.

  1. Have an attitude of gratitude.  Be thankful for the hard work, effort and prayers of others who are wanting you to be SAFE and SUCCESSFUL.
  2. Plan on the unexpected.  These are the times that will allow you to learn about yourself and to fulfill your potential.
  3. Be open to new experiences.  In the process you will make mistakes, but Badgers are resilient.  Just remember, when you fail, don’t fail to lose the lesson.  Fail forward!
  4. Embrace the value of inclusion.  It’s not about ME, it’s about WE.  Unlike any other time, we NEED to look out for each other.  Enjoy the diversity of your experiences, but most importantly, remember that in many ways, you are all the same!
    • You are all freshman!
    • You are all starting on a new journey!
    • You will all have challenges!
    • BUT most importantly, you are a team!  You are strong!  You are ALL Badgers! 

You are going to have an amazing experience. Welcome to the Badger family!

On, Wisconsin!

Mark Rein '84