Professor Robert Stewart, known to many as “Bob,” has a résumé that’s as long as the walk up Morton Hill seems to a first year student. However, his life outside the classroom is even more interesting. I got a chance to sit down with him in Schoonover 230 last week to get to know just a bit more about the head of the E.W. Scripps school of Journalism.
A lover of “the view,” Stewart enjoys looking out of the window in his office. More importantly, however, his favorite part of being the director of Scripps is working with inspiring students and faculty and giving students a chance to find themselves. He offers many trips to different areas nationally and internationally in order to give students that opportunity.
Perhaps his drive to offer students opportunities to see the world comes from personal experience. One may be surprised to know that although he was born in the United States, most of Stewart’s childhood was spent in Thailand, surrounded by his parents and two siblings.
“I was…really privileged because I got to travel a lot,” Stewart spoke of his experience. His eyes light up as he talks about Cambodia, his favorite place to travel since it reminds him of his childhood. He loves taking students there to experience areas of the world that are still in “transition.”
(Stewart in New York)
Raised by two missionaries, it’s easy to see where Stewart gets his communication skills. His dad was a preacher and stationed in the army, while his mother was a reporter after she finished homeschooling her three children.
“It’s hard to untangle the influence that they have.” Steward said, when reflecting on his parents.
Shockingly, the professor doesn’t think his mother had anything to do with his taking an interest in journalism. Instead, he accredits his love of photography. For a while, he wanted to write for the New York Times. However, while teaching English during his time in graduate school, he realized that he liked teaching better than doing. He decided to combine his two passions and began teaching journalism. He is living proof that no matter what you think you want to do, you can always change your career path.
“I’ve always said to my kids and my students who will listen to me, ‘Figure out what you really want to do and go for it. Don’t worry about a back up plan.’”
In correlation to his interesting past, Stewart is still not your typical professor.
“I’m trying to be a good role model for students,” Stewart said, regarding his frequent activity on Twitter. Some students find it a little strange when they see a professor so active on social media, but Stewart tweets with both personality and professionalism, which certainly makes him more relatable to students trying to find their water.
In addition to tweeting, he continues to surprise students with the fact that 14 years ago, he started his own band. He started playing guitar at the age of 9 and continues to play in a band comprised of an anthropology professor, an EMT and a doctor.
“It’s a fun way to have fun,” Stewart said.
(Wilhelm Amphitheater at Ohio University in August 2016)