Luconda and Joanne Dager

Luconda, Joanne and Joe Dager stand outside Velvet Ice Cream's headquarters in Utica.

Luconda and Joanne Dager know the importance of celebrating milestones. In 2014, their family-owned company, Velvet Ice Cream, celebrated its 100th anniversary as a maker of premium craft ice cream which has become a staple in homes throughout Ohio and many surrounding states. The fourth-generation sisters who run the business out of its corporate headquarters in Utica marked the centennial anniversary by reflecting on the past, looking ahead to the future, and of course, releasing some special anniversary flavors.

When COTC’s leadership approached them about a possible collaboration in honor of the college’s 50th anniversary, they jumped at the opportunity. After a fun brainstorming session in which they considered the ironically perfect last name of COTC’s president and the school’s colors, they proposed a handful of possible 50th-anniversary flavors. The college’s leadership team narrowed it down to three contenders and asked students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members to vote for their favorite. After nearly 1,000 votes had been cast, Berry Rumble – a fruity blend of strawberry, blueberry and blackberry ice cream – was deemed the winner.

“When we were approached by COTC about the possibility of creating a special 50th-anniversary ice cream flavor, we didn’t have to think too hard before saying yes,” said Luconda, who has served as the company’s president since 2009.

“One of the common themes in our 108-year history is the value we have always placed on cultivating partnerships and supporting the local community.”

The college served Berry Rumble at dozens of 50th anniversary events and community presentations throughout the year-long celebration and even gave a coupon for a complimentary hand-packed quart of the anniversary flavor to all guests who attended the 50th anniversary gala in April.

But the Dager sisters took this “sweet” partnership one step further by announcing the creation of a new COTC scholarship during the gala. The Velvet Ice Cream Dager Family Scholarship will be awarded to students pursuing a degree in Business Management Technology with a cumulative GPA of 3.2 or greater. With the help of business faculty members, preference will be given to students who have a specific interest in small business entrepreneurship and possess a sense of leadership, curiosity and an optimistic sense of accomplishment.

“Over the years, we’ve seen how a degree from COTC has changed the lives of local students,” said Joanne, the company’s vice president. “We want to support students interested in pursuing their entrepreneurial dreams just like our great grandfather did when he started Velvet in 1914.”