Steve Charles—In the Allen Center locker room today I heard Steve Hoffman ’85 and professors David Polley and Tobey Herzog talking about oral comps [the oral comprehensive exams required of all Wabash seniors].

“I can’t believe that was 25 years ago,” Steve said recalling his own experience, noting that Professor Polley had been one of the three professors on his comps board.

“I was nervous, I don’t remember who was in it besides Professor Polley, and it was difficult while I was there,” Steve said. “But I wouldn’t change it for anything. From today’s seniors to alumni from the classes of the 40s and 50s, it’s a common thread. A common bond.”

Senior Daniel King, who just finished his oral comps wrote about the experience on his blog. Here’s a quote: “I had a great experience. My oral comps board were friendly, and we had a great conversation for an hour. We talked about everything from my favorite psychology class to studying in Italy to C&T. It was honestly fun.”

Daniel said being finished was an “odd” feeling: “I’m relieved. But what do I now? I don’t have any papers to write. I dont have any tests to study for. I can just relax…. I guess I’m just not used to that.”

Steve is a major gifts officer for the College now and visits with a lot of alumni. He said that even if they don’t remember all the professors who were in the room, they always remember one question.

For Steve, who majored in biology but had also taken theater classes, that question was: “How do biology and theater complement one another?”

Apparently, comps questions jog professors’ memories, too, for as soon as Steve recalled that question, Dave Polley practically shouted out, “I remember that one!”

The exchange made me want to test Steve’s theory.

So, for all Wabash alumni out there: What’s that one question you remember from your oral comps? Any other memorable moments from the experience?

We’d love to hear them, either as a Comment below, or as an email to me at

In photo: Steve Hoffman ’85 (center) with fellow Sphinx Club members Nate Powell ’09 and Mike Raters ’85 judge another Wabash tradition that brings together the generations: Alumni Chapel Sing.