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Embodying the true spirit of difference-making

ASU prof aims to change narrative about alcoholism: a disease, not a weakness.
May 20, 2016

ASU professor creates positive change by fighting the stigma associated with alcoholism, recovery on college campuses

Driven by a passion to educate people about alcoholism and recovery, Arizona State University professor Linda Lederman aims to make a difference in the lives of many by fighting the stigma of weakness and lack of willpower. 

“My work is designed to change the narrative,” said Lederman, a communication scholar who studies health issues. “To get people to understand that alcoholism is a deadly disease, for which there is no cure — but it can be put into daily remission.”

Linda Lederman, professor of health and human communication

Lederman (left) has been selected to receive the 2016 Gary S. Krahenbuhl Difference Maker Award presented by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The annual award was established through generous contributions of faculty, staff and friends of ASU to honor a faculty member who personifies the spirit of difference-making as demonstrated by Krahenbuhl, a former dean of the college.

“Dr. Lederman’s scholarship, service and teaching are seamlessly connected to the health and well-being of the broader ASU community,” wrote Cameron Thies and Mary Margaret Fonow, two distinguished professors and school directors who nominated Lederman for this prestigious award.

A professor and director of the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, Lederman is nationally recognized for her use-inspired research on alcohol-abuse prevention, alcoholism and collegiate recovery, which has been funded by grants from federal agencies totaling more than $8 million. Her books include “Changing the Culture of College Drinking” and “Voices of Recovery from the Campus,” a collection of stories from people who began their recovery while undergraduate students.

Prior to joining ASU in 2006, Lederman was a professor of communication at Rutgers University, a faculty member of Rutgers Center for Alcohol Studies and the founding co-director of the Center for Communication and Health Issues, which focused on uncovering the role of communication in alcohol use and abuse. 

“Narrative and stories often bridge the ways in which we think about things,” said Lederman. “So I’m trying to destigmatize alcoholism and recovery on the college campus by changing the story. Putting a face on it, a real face, by sharing real stories of people in recovery.” 

Her work focuses on changing two narratives: the culture of college drinking and the negative stereotype associated with alcoholics. The dominant narratives — everybody drinks in college and alcoholics lack willpower — are misrepresentations of reality, said Lederman.

“Narrative and stories often bridge the ways in which we think about things. So I’m trying to destigmatize alcoholism and recovery on the college campus by changing the story. Putting a face on it, a real face, by sharing real stories of people in recovery.”
— ASU professor Linda Lederman

Lederman has designed an undergraduate course, “Communication, Alcoholism and Recovery,” to educate students on alcoholism as a disease and to show how communication can help people understand and recover from the disease.

“I teach the course in a way that encourages students to become messengers,” said Lederman. “By engaging in what people do, talking to one another, they can help other people re-examine their own misperceptions about alcoholism and recovery.”

Lederman has also created the DYK10? (Do You Know 10?) campaign with her students from this course, which will launch in the fall. The campaign is designed to inform students that 1 in 10 people who drink have alcoholism and need help (if they continue to drink) or support (if they are in recovery).

She will present at a national conference sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education in August, so health educators can use her campaign as a tool for prevention and alcohol awareness on college campuses.

“Through education and intervention, her work has inspired recovery professionals to action on behalf of our students,” said Lederman’s nominators for the difference maker award. “She is one of the most active and innovative people on our campus.” 

Lederman’s impact extends beyond the ASU community. She was invited to give a colloquium about her work on alcoholism and collegiate recovery at the University of Arizona Department of Communication earlier this year. In addition, the Empty Space Theatre presented a performance titled “Recovery,” based on her books and journal articles about communication, alcoholism and recovery. She also was invited back to Rutgers University to be a speaker at the Rutgers Recovery Graduation earlier this month.

“I am honored to have received this award,” said Lederman. “There is nothing I can think of that would mean more to me than winning an award as a difference maker because my life and work are dedicated to making a difference in people’s lives.”


Top photo by Diego Lopez

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Embracing the uniqueness of the university

Stefanie Lindquist named deputy provost, vice president for academic affairs.
May 23, 2016

New deputy provost attracted to ASU by the power of the school's mission

Stefanie Lindquist enjoyed perhaps the most convincing job recruitment visit possible at Arizona State University, and she wasn’t applying for anything.

Lindquist, dean of the University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs, spent two days in March shadowing ASU President Michael Crow as part of the Millennium Leadership Initiative sponsored by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. Although the program staff usually chooses a mentor for each MLI fellow, Lindquist specifically requested Crow.

This week she was named ASU’s new deputy provost and vice president for academic affairs.

She tried to describe a single moment from the visit that stuck in her brain, and later led to her applying for the No. 2 slot in the provost’s office, but she couldn’t narrow her answer down to just one.

She watched:

  • The town hall with Crow on the Polytechnic campus with students, including some from other campuses linked by video, offering creative suggestions for lighting improvements or for composting at university restaurants and dining halls.
  • Crow making sure that an engineering student he met in a dining hall emailed details about the course he was having trouble getting into.
  • The high-level discourse of a graduate course, team-taught with one professor Skyping in from Washington, D.C., looking at technological advancements that have changed public policy and social structure.
  • Phoenix architects talking urban design and underscoring how integral the university has become to the community’s and the state’s identity and development.

“What struck me was the singularity, if you will, of the university community’s understanding of the mission, from the administration through the faculty to the students,” Lindquist said. “They completely embraced the uniqueness of their university’s mission, the access to higher education that wasn’t there in previous generations, and the excitement associated with the research being performed there.”

Mark Searle, executive vice president and university provost, said Lindquist immediately rose high in the national search for his new deputy because of her breadth of experience as a professor, a lawyer and an administrator and her demonstrated success in quickly stepping up to greater responsibility. She served as interim dean and helped reestablish calm at the University of Texas’ law school in 2011 when the dean was suddenly forced to resign. Her appointment at ASU includes serving as a Foundation Professor of law and political science.

“Stefanie knows the challenges of the classroom and the countless interoperating parts that a university leader must keep running efficiently,” Searle said. “And she brings to ASU a personal enthusiasm for education’s ability to raise an individual’s socioeconomic status. That drive is essential as she helps our efforts to grow our enrollment, raise our retention rates and recruit top tenured and tenure-track faculty.”

Lindquist clerked for a federal Court of Appeals judge and worked as a government contracts litigator in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. She taught at Georgia, Vanderbilt and USC’s Gould School of Law, in addition to Texas’ law school.

At Georgia, Provost Pamela Whitten sent a memo to leadership there this week praising Lindquist for elevating instruction and research, including creating a new Scholar in Residence Program and a joint Applied Politics program with the journalism school. She also helped launch the UGA Women’s Leadership Initiative focused on support for women’s advancement in university administration.

Lindquist, a military history buff, has visited every major Civil War battlefield east of the Mississippi. For conflicts and challenges of today, she takes a lawyer’s deliberative approach and said she wields a keen sense of the varied interests of the university’s constituencies as she approaches a decision.

“I try to think about each decision’s ripple effects on our accessibility to students, on faculty, on donors and alumni,” she said. “At UGA I have worked to establish a non-hierarchical environment, a welcoming environment, in hopes that people will feel comfortable telling me when things are working and — perhaps more importantly — when they are not.”

Lindquist takes her new post on Sept. 1.

Top photo: Stefanie Lindquist with students at the University of Georgia. Photo courtesy of the University of Georgia