Centre News

Getting to know…the Norton Center’s Steve Hoffman


August 26, 2010
Steve Hoffman Steve Hoffman in Centre’s Newlin Hall
1. Position at Centre?
Executive Director of the College’s Norton Center for the Arts

2. Where did you grow up (and describe the place in one phrase or sentence)?
I am an Army Brat. I have moved 19 times, most recently to Danville from Monterey, California. I’ve also lived in Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Chicago; Madison, Wisconsin; New York; Washington, D.C.; France.

3. What are your hobbies?
Discovering new music groups and artists, writing, reading, playing with my puppies, jogging

4. What is your dream vacation?
Traveling with the loosest itinerary possible so I can stumble upon local attractions without time constraints or choose to simply hike or relax

5. Favorite artist and/or work of art?
I enjoy meeting artists from within the region where I live and learning about their artforms and what motivates them. Stuart Davis, Max Beckmann, Paul Cadmus, Thomas Hart Benton and Nan Goldin are artists whose works speak to me at very deep levels.

6. Favorite novel or poem?
Richard Wright’s Native Son is one of the most incredible books about the human condition. To a God Unknown by John Steinbeck is another book that made a lasting impression on me personally and spiritually.

7. Favorite sport (to watch or play)?
I look forward to seeing as many Centre College sporting events as I can!

8. Favorite TV show?
Today it is Big Bang Theory, True Blood and, dare I say, Family Guy.

9. Favorite album?
I love to be turned on to new music—so let me know who YOU like! Lately, I enjoy discovering new electronica (A3, Gotan Project, Nine Horses) and contemporary bluegrass music (Punch Brothers, Alison and Viktor Krauss). Tried-and-true listening includes progressive rock (Yes, Genesis), bold classical composers (Stravinsky, Richard Strauss), and new jazz (Brad Mehldau, Stefon Harris). Oh, and I can’t forget Electric Light Orchestra and Earth, Wind and Fire.

10. Favorite holiday?
Ones where there are no obligations to do anything (except, perhaps, to eat)

11. Favorite food?
Sushi, Indian, Thai and anything else with rich flavors

12. Best live theater performance you’ve ever seen?
The one you just told me you loved seeing at the Norton Center

13. Three people, living or deceased, who you’d invite to the same dinner party?
This week it would be James Baldwin, Dave Eggers and John Steinbeck.

14. Favorite aspect of your job?
When someone comes up to me after a performance and says, “Thank you for bringing this act. I had never heard of them before, but as a subscriber I had tickets. They were incredible, and I’m so glad I had a chance to see them. I can’t wait to be surprised next time, too!”

15. Act you’re most looking forward to seeing this season at the Norton Center?
All of them! Actually, I think the Punch Brothers is going to be the “best kept secret” that I hope everyone comes to check out.

16. What would you be doing if you weren't working at Centre?
Researching new performing and visual artists

17. Educational experience that’s been most helpful to you?
As a graduate assistant at the California Institute of Technology, I had a mentor who did everything he could to make my educational experience the best it could be. He even planned a session at a national conference solely for me to present my graduate thesis (which included the work I did for his institution). He exemplified what a mentor could be. Never forgetting his generosity and leadership, I try to provide the best possible mentorship experiences I can for students trying to reach their educational and professional goals.

18. Fictional character in whose shoes you’d love to spend a day?
Willy Wonka

19. Favorite place on campus (and why)?
Obvious answer: Norton Center! I’m still exploring all the buildings and the campus. It’s a terrific environment.

20. Advice you'd give to a first-year college student to make success more likely?
1. Step out of your comfort zone and try new experiences.
2. Chances are, if you are nervous about a class or a situation, there are others feeling exactly the same way, so don’t think everyone else is free of stress and worry.
3. It took me until graduate school to realize how much easier college is when I went to the library (or some other quiet place) right after the last class of the day to get my homework assignments and studying done. Then, I could spend the rest of the evening enjoying myself and weekends were not times to catch up on everything.

Have comments, suggestions, or story ideas? E-mail leigh.ivey@centre.edu with your feedback.



Founded in 1819, Centre College is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges. Forbes magazine ranks Centre 24th among all the nation's colleges and universities and No. 1 among all institutions of higher education in the South. Consumers Digest ranks Centre No. 1 in educational value among all U.S. liberal arts colleges. Centre alumni, known for their nation-leading loyalty in annual financial support, include two U.S. vice presidents and two Supreme Court justices.
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