Lighting a Fire with Ice Cream

Picture it: Fall semester, 2018. I was having dinner in Rimrock Café at MSU Billings, which just happens to be one of my favorite restaurants in town. Rimrock Café, the campus cafeteria, is such a nostalgic place for me. As a freshman, I attended one of my very first campus events there. Throughout my four years on campus, I met several friends there. And some of the same folks who worked there when I was a student are still there – which is a testament to its warm and inviting atmosphere. Ahhhh yes… it really is the experiences I had in Rimrock Café that keep me coming back.

As tradition would dictate, before I left Rimrock Café that evening, I just had to hit up the ice cream station. But when I looked inside the self-serve freezer, I saw a cake batter ice cream with blue frosting, labeled “Bobcat Batter”.

This lit a fire under me. Why didn’t MSU Billings have its own ice cream?

Campus unites

I had to do something about this. First, I chatted with campus colleagues to see what they thought about the idea of creating our own ice cream. They loved it! I was getting flavor suggestions left and right!

Next, I gathered with leaders from MSU Billings Dining Services, as well as students, staff, and alumni. From choosing ingredient and name options to setting up the voting and sampling activities, we took it upon ourselves to launch MSU Billings’ very own ice cream!

Homecoming was the perfect opportunity to get all of our stakeholders – students, parents, faculty, staff, community supporters and, of course, alumni – to play a role in choosing our new ice cream. We wanted this to be a decision all of us made – together.

With three flavors to choose from (all of them delicious, I might add), the fated selection was out of our hands. More than 100 votes rolled in, and we heard your demand. ‘Jacket Rumble, a combination of salted caramel ice cream and toffee, would represent the Yellowjacket pride in all of us as the official MSU Billings ice cream.

Creamy conversation

It’s about more than ice cream. It’s a conversation starter that builds brand awareness. ‘Jacket Rumble is a reminder to the community that MSU Billings is the university in town. It’s about school pride…and what it means to be Yellowjackets.

And we’re creating new experiences for students. Maybe one day, an alumna will be shopping in a grocery store, find ‘Jacket Rumble in the ice cream aisle, and think back to the wonderful memories she made while enjoying ‘Jacket Rumble with her friends on campus. Maybe that will remind her that she was planning to get involved with the Alumni Association – or that she wanted to start a scholarship endowment – or that she was going to mention to that high school student down the street how great it was to go to school at MSUB.

You see, this project wasn’t just about creating an ice cream. It was about creating an experience.

With enthusiasm,

Gillette Vaira, M.A.
Director of Alumni Relations
MSU Billings Class of 2009
(406) 247-5781 |

This letter to alumni from Gillette Vaira appeared in the October 2019 issue of the Alumni Flyer e-newsletter.