Doris Howes Calloway: An Exemplary Administrator and Leader : Nutrition Today

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Clinical Nutrition

Doris Howes Calloway

An Exemplary Administrator and Leader

King, Janet C. PhD; Yates, Allison A. PhD; Butte, Nancy F. PhD, MPH; Murphy, Suzanne P. PhD; Kretsch, Molly J. PhD; Blackburn, Mary L. PhD, MPH

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Nutrition Today 58(2):p 73-76, 3/4 2023. | DOI: 10.1097/NT.0000000000000598
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Most listings of traits or characteristics of successful leaders focus on the ability to listen, to think futuristically, to mentor, and to advance others (see Box 1). Those who are considered exemplary at leading people and/or institutions demonstrate these qualities on a daily basis in their professional lives. In previous issues of Nutrition Today, we have published 6 articles describing the research and mentoring activities of Dr Doris Calloway, an internationally recognized nutritionist who, through her own work and that of her students and their subsequent contributions, has significantly advanced human nutrition knowledge and public health programming and policy both nationally and internationally.

Box 1. Qualities of Leaders in the Sciences

Successful leaders demonstrate the following leadership qualities in their personal and professional lives, inspiring others to take action and set a course for future success.

  • Lead change in their field of science
  • Are self-aware and prioritize personal development
  • Focus on developing others
  • Practice and encourage strategic thinking, innovation, and action
  • Are honest and ethical
  • Communicate effectively cross-culturally


Led Change in Nutritional Sciences

In the first decade of her career, Dr Calloway became Director of the Nutrition Research Program for the Quartermaster Food and Container Institute of the Armed Forces in Chicago. In 1960, she was recruited to the Stanford Research Institute in California to head their new research program in nutrition during space flights supported by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. After moving to the University of California, Berkeley (UCB) in 1964, she led a major National Institutes of Health–funded research program on the top floor of the Department of Nutritional Sciences, called the Penthouse. She also served as Chair of the Department of Nutritional Sciences from 1976 to 1981.

Dr Calloway also held numerous leadership roles on committees aimed at developing national and international consensus reports on human nutritional requirements and food policy. As a testimony to her leadership qualities and scientific knowledge, she was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and as the President of the American Institute of Nutrition, the premier nutrition society. During the latter part of her UCB career, she led a multinational study of the effects of moderate malnutrition funded by U.S. Agency for International Development that shifted the focus of nutritional aid programs from protein to micronutrient sources. She led this extensive multinational study while serving as the UCB Provost, the first appointment of a woman in senior administration on the Berkeley campus. After retiring from UCB, she was appointed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Department of Health and Human Services to chair the 1995 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.

Prioritized Personal Development

Early in her career immediately after World War II and the Great Depression, Dr Calloway pursued training at the University of Chicago to enhance her research opportunities. Soon after completing her doctoral degree, National Aeronautics and Space Administration leaders chose her to determine the nutritional needs of astronauts undertaking a trip to the moon. Dr Calloway, who always sought to understand and evaluate the work of others before accepting their findings, decided she needed to be able to read Russian to truly understand the reports and research coming from the Soviet Union regarding the effects of space travel on human metabolism. So, while fulfilling the demands of a full-time teaching and research position, she taught herself Russian.

Focused on Developing Others

During the 30 years that Dr Calloway served as a faculty member at UCB, she supervised and mentored nearly 40 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in nutrition and public health—in addition to serving as the faculty advisor for other students and occasional drop-ins. She was always available to provide counsel when problems arose, whether it was a mistake in the formulation of a diet for a long-term study, it was an earthquake ending a research study in Guatemala, or to offer input and advice regarding potential professional appointments for current and former students. She did this not only for students but also for her research staff members.

Practiced and Encouraged Strategic Thinking, Innovation, and Action

Dr Calloway thoroughly reviewed and carefully considered how best to answer each nutrition research question she undertook. Given the high cost of conducting human studies, she made it a policy to weave as many side studies into each primary research project. Thus, other nutritional sciences faculty members frequently collaborated in Penthouse studies or initiated their own research protocols that focused on their primary human nutrition interests.

As a UCB Faculty Member

Dr Calloway worked to improve the overall educational process at the university. For example, as a registered dietitian, she recognized the critical need to increase training opportunities for dietitians in the early 1970s. At that time, the availability of dietetic internships in hospitals was limited for graduates of the popular dietetics bachelor's degree program at UCB. Although a few dietetic internships offered a master's degree program with the internship, no one had combined an undergraduate degree program with an internship as had been done in nursing. Thus, Dr Calloway championed the establishment of a Coordinated Program in Dietetics (CPD) at Berkeley that combined academic and clinical training in dietetics. To establish one of the first coordinated programs in dietetics, Dr Calloway successfully acquired support for 2 new faculty members with training in dietetics, Drs Janet King and Susan Oace, to lead the Coordinated Program in Dietetics. Two master's-level dietitians were also hired to integrate the campus coursework with field experiences and clinical rotations. The Department of Nutritional Sciences at Berkeley was one of the first academic units to obtain accreditation for professional training components in an undergraduate dietetics program. The UCB Coordinated Program in Dietetics established over 45 years ago is among the oldest of any university (see Box 2).

Box 2. Dietetics at UCB Today

Because of the increase in depth and types of expertise required to function in today's healthcare setting, the Commission on Dietetic Registration, the credentialing agency for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, has changed the requirements to become a registered dietitian. As of 2024, all dietitians will be required to have a graduate degree and to complete an approved professional training program to take the registration examination. Dr King, now an emerita faculty member, is currently working with the current Director of the UCB Dietetics Program, Mikelle McCoin, to convert the current undergraduate Coordinated Dietetics Program into a combined master's program.

As a Department Chair

In the mid-1960s, Dr George Briggs, the newly hired chair of the UCB Department of Nutritional Sciences, recruited Dr Calloway and Dr Sheldon Margen, a local physician who had researched human protein malnutrition, to establish a major research program in human nutrition. Unlike other UCB departments, when Dr Briggs stepped down as Chair in 1970, the Department of Nutritional Sciences faculty implemented a system of rotating chairs every 5 years so that the faculty leaders could sustain a strong research program. Dr Sheldon Margen was the first of the rotating Chairs, serving from 1970 to 1975. Dr Calloway was chosen to serve as Chair in 1976 to 1981. She frequently told her faculty colleagues, and at times her students, that she did not want to be an administrator. However, she held multiple leadership positions during her career that stemmed from her superb intellect and understanding of the need to develop programs and policies to advance research findings. While she was Chair of the Department, it was necessary for her to take a leave of absence for 2 years to work at the World Health Organization/Food and Agriculture Organization Headquarters in Rome where she provided the leadership for developing international energy and protein recommendations.1 Because most of the decisions within the Department of Nutritional Sciences were made jointly by the entire faculty at their regular meetings, the Vice Chair led those meetings while Dr Calloway was absent, incorporating her input sent from Rome during the faculty discussions.

As a Campus Administrator

Recognizing her strong leadership qualities as the Nutritional Sciences Department Chair, UCB Chancellor Michael Heyman appointed Dr Calloway as the Provost of the Professional Schools and Colleges in 1981. With that appointment, she became the first woman in senior administration at UCB. She served in that capacity for 6 years until she retired in 1987. In 1968, a few years after Dr Calloway came to UCB, only 44 of the 1237 tenured faculty were women (3.5%); 4 of those 44 women were faculty members in the Department of Nutritional Sciences.2 That statistic demonstrates the environment in which Dr Calloway worked when she was the Provost from 1981 to 1987.

While Provost of the 13 professional schools and colleges, she worked diligently to enhance opportunities for women and people of color to obtain an education and to participate as key staff and faculty in various campus senior positions. She accomplished her goal by hiring the first woman as a dean and, also, the first African American woman as a dean while she was the Provost. At Dr Calloway's memorial in 2001, former Chancellor Heyman, then a professor emeritus of law and city planning, said: “I had enormous faith in Doris's professionalism and sensitivity. She was one of my most cherished appointments as Chancellor.”

However, her work as Provost was not always easy. Professor Janet King, a former student of Dr Calloway and later a faculty member and then Chair of the Department, remembers discussions regarding the challenges Dr Calloway faced as Provost. During one of their discussions, Dr Calloway said, “As the only woman in senior leadership, I am often excluded from confidential discussions the men have when we have coffee/restroom breaks. The men all convene in the men's bathroom where they make joint decisions about issues under discussion. When I reconvene the meeting, they present a solidified plan to which I had not contributed, and I am unable to refute it as they have the majority.”

Nevertheless, Dr Calloway's determination and leadership skills enhanced opportunities for women on the Berkeley campus. The results of the seeds she planted back in the early 1980s have grown new levels of involvement for women on the campus. In 2017, UCB appointed a woman, Dr Carol T. Christ, as the first woman Chancellor. Dr Christ was Chair of the English Department from 1985 to 1988. She was then appointed Dean of Humanities, Mathematics, and Natural Sciences, an appointment that Dr Calloway strongly influenced and supported. Dr King was Chair of the Department of Nutritional Sciences when Dr Christ was Chair of the English Department. Dr King recalls many very insightful discussions the 2 Chairs had with Provost Calloway regarding how to be effective leaders in a male-dominated environment.

Dr Calloway's impact at UCB is clearly evident today with the high proportion of women serving as members of UCB's leadership. Women now comprise slightly more than half of the faculty (50.9% vs 49.1% for men), whereas 52% of the undergraduates and 46% of the graduate students are women. Today, UCB leads the nation in the proportion of women faculty at comparable universities, largely as a result of Dr Calloway's commitment to opening the doors of opportunities for women and minorities at all levels of the university.

Was Ethical and Civic Minded

Although Dr Calloway's early research was conducted with human participants in highly controlled environments, concerns of how best to improve the nutritional status of vulnerable populations were of increasing concern and interest among nutrition scientists. An example was the first White House Conference on Food, Nutrition, and Health held in 1969. To enhance future programs for high-risk populations, Dr Calloway initiated research studies of the impact of feeding programs on the health and well-being of vulnerable populations. Examples include programs for Native Americans living on reservations in southwest United States, for pregnant teenagers in urban environments, and for migrant farm workers.3 In 1976, in a testimony to the US Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs, Dr Calloway urged the US government to support activities of the Food and Agriculture Organization to improve the access to food for lower-income populations worldwide. To that end, she designed and oversaw a major 3-country project that evaluated how best to overcome moderate malnutrition using international aid policies and programs.

Communicated Effectively Across Cultures

Throughout her career, Dr Calloway recognized the cultural differences in nutrition among populations living in the United States and in lower-income countries around the world. Thus, she took national and international leadership positions to promote definitions of the causes and, therefore, potential solutions to nutrient deficiencies. Unlike her colleagues at that time, she recognized that nutritional deficiencies in various populations worldwide stemmed from social and economic factors. Providing food supplements without addressing those underlying factors would have a limited impact. Thus, Dr Calloway focused on developing and establishing long-term solutions, for example, vegetable gardens or raising chickens to provide eggs and meat.4


Dr Calloway personally demonstrated the primary characteristics of an exemplary leader and teacher. As her students, we learned the value of those qualities, and we have worked diligently to emphasize her principles in our own careers:

  • Be true to one's values
  • Focus on the future
  • Set high performance standards
  • Create a safe environment for dissent and discourse
  • Ensure that science governs the discussion


1. King JC, Kretsch MJ, Butte NF, Murphy SP, Yates AA, Blackburn ML. Doris Howes Calloway: a pioneer in human nutrition research. Nutr Today. 2022;57(3):159–165.
2. Nerad M. The Academic Kitchen: A Social History of Gender Stratification at the University of California, Berkeley. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press; 1999.
3. Butte NF, Kuhnlein HV, Murphy SP, et al. Doris Howes Calloway: studies of nutritionally vulnerable populations in the United States. Nutr Today. 2022;57(3):74–78.
4. Murphy SP, King JC, Kretsch MJ, Butte NF, Yates AA, Blackburn ML. A multicountry study of the impact of moderate malnutrition. Nutr Today. 2023;58(1):27–33.
Copyright © 2023 The Authors. Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.