Maroon Means Community

Carmen Graves,
Class of 2013

Al Stump, Class of 1952
Homer Bast, Professor Emeritus & Honorary Alumnus 1979

Perhaps no name conjures up Maroon family and community more than that of legendary track coach and History Professor Homer Bast. As one of his former students said, “It is not just your coaching ability that makes you the respected man you are. It is the personal interest you take in each individual. It is men like you, Mr. Bast, who give Roanoke College its good name.”

That personal interest in the individual remains one of the defining characteristics of Roanoke. Coach Bast may have been attracted to Roanoke because this ethos already existed. But there is no question that he helped instill it for future generations of students and faculty. Indeed, today’s students, like track star Carmen Graves, are beneficiaries of Bast’s focus on the personal potential of every student. Carmen, who had the fastest time among all NCAA Division II and III women’s 800-meter runners, says the kind of support she gets at Roanoke has made all the difference in her success.

One of the reasons Carmen is at Roanoke in the first place is because of such giving back. Al Stump ’52 endowed a scholarship in honor of his own coach—Bast. He says he was inspired to give because the College filled a niche in his life that nothing has ever replaced. “Homer motivated me. He inspired me to succeed. Because of his help and that of others at the College, I was able to do well and consequently to give back to society,” says Al.

A few years ago, Al saw his former coach for the first time in many years. “It was one of the most emotional experiences of my life,” he says. “He knew what he had meant to me. We embraced. We shed a few tears.”

Since then the two have stayed in regular touch. Each is very interested in fostering the kind of Maroon community they had and that Carmen Graves says is crucial if students are to achieve their best. The two men see the Cregger Center as a physical embodiment of the Roanoke values they hold dear.

“We are all aware of the outstanding academic experience that Roanoke offers its students,” says Homer. “It is now time to focus on helping the extracurricular programs and strengthening the community life offered. We need this building in order to continue attracting incredible students and athletes. The Cregger Center will be one of the most outstanding buildings on campus. With that comes a very large price tag. We need all our friends, families and neighbors to join in the effort to make this College dream, and my dream, a reality.”

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