The Rutgers University Board of Governors appointed Lea P. Stewart to the Richard D. Heffner Professorship in Communications and Public Policy in recognition of her research linking interpersonally based prevention strategies with mass mediated campaigns targeting college student drug and alcohol use.

“I had the privilege of working with Richard Heffner for many years,” said Stewart. “He was an engaged teacher, with a keen mind, who always challenged his students to do their best work. I am honored to be appointed to a professorship that carries his name.”

Lea Stewart
Lea P. Stewart
Rutgers University

Stewart, whose professorship began Jan. 1, 2024, is director of the Center for Communication and Health Issues and professor of communication at the School of Communication and Information at Rutgers-New Brunswick. She has received numerous awards for her teaching, research and service, including a Model Program Award from the U.S. Department of Education’s Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program. She has been the principal investigator for almost $5 million in funding from New Jersey Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services.

Stewart began her Rutgers tenure as an assistant professor in 1981 and became a full member of the graduate faculty in 1987. During her more than 40 years on campus, she has also served as chair of the Department of Communication (1988-91), director of the Ph.D. Program in Communication, Information and Library Studies (1993-99), and Livingston campus dean (2007-16).

A 1973 graduate of Allegheny College with a bachelor of arts in psychology, Stewart earned both her master of arts in communication theory (1977) and doctorate in interpersonal and organizational communication (1979) from Purdue University.

The Richard D. Heffner Professorship in Communications and Public Policy was established in 1987 as the Edythe and Dean Dowling Professorship in Communications and Public Policy, with the understanding that the professorship would be renamed after its longtime holder. In 2018, the professorship was renamed to honor Heffner, an outstanding faculty member and the host of the long-running public television interview show The Open Mind.