Richard Heathcote Heindel, 66, a scholar and university administrator who helped establish U.S. cultural programs abroad during and after World War II, died of cancer Tuesday at his home in Harrisbury, Pa,

A professor emeritus of international relations at the Middletown campus of Pennslyvania State University, Dr. Heindel's major professional interest was American influence in other countries. He published a book, "The American Impact on Great Britain," in 1940. The book was reissued in 1968 and Dr. Heindel was planning an expanded study at the time of his death.

During World War II, he as director of the American library in the U.S. Embassy in London. He was chief of the division of libraries and institutions in the State Department in 1946 and 1947. He later became a consultant to the U.S. commission on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.From 1950 to 1954, he was deputy director of the UNESCO relations staff in the State Department.

In all of these positions, Dr. Heindel worked to see that American educational and sociological thinking would receive its due in U.S. cultural programs, and in programs operated by UNESCO. He also helped reestablish relations between learned societies in this country and those in former enemy countries, and, insofar as was possible, with the countries of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.

His work in government was absorbed into the U.S. Information Agency when it was formed in 1953.

After leaving government, Dr. Heindel returned to academic life. He was a dean and vice chancellor at the University of Buffalo (N.Y.) from 1954 to 1958, president of Wagner College at Staten Island, N.Y. from 1958 to 1961, and president of the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, N.Y., from 1961 to 1967.

He joined the faculty of Penn State in 1967 and retired as a professor emeritus in 1977. He was dean of Penn State faculty at Middletown from 1967 to 1973.

Dr. Heindel was born in Hanover,, Pa. He graduated from Harvard College and earned his graduate degrees at the University of Pennsylvania. He taught at the Drexel Institute and at the University of Pennsylvania and was a fellow at the Social Science Research Council before World War II.

Dr. Heindel's first wife, the former Elizabeth Calvert, died in 1962. A son, Thomas, died some years ago. Dr. Heindel's marriage to the former Dorothy Pushaw ended in a divorce.

Survivors include his wife, Ruth Noble Heindel of the home in Harrisburgh; two daughters, Heath De Gouvea of Carangola, Bazil, and Bridget Thomas of West Hartford, Conn., and four grandchildren.