Department welcomes Chairman Frank Hu, honors predecessor Walter Willett

Dean Michelle Williams, Walter Willett, Frank Hu
Dean Michelle Williams joined the Department of Nutrition to welcome Dr. Frank Hu into his new role as Chairman, and honor Dr. Walter Willett's distinguished 25-year chairmanship.

At an event appropriately catered with foods fit for a Healthy Eating Plate, colleagues and members of the Department of Nutrition gathered to welcome Dr. Frank Hu into his new role as Chairman, and to honor Dr. Walter Willett’s esteemed chairmanship.

Since beginning his new role on the first of the year, Dr. Hu remarked on the smooth and productive transition thanks to the strong support of his predecessor and other faculty, staff, and students; and discussed his plans to continue and grow the “legacy of the department.” First arriving in the department 20 years ago as Dr. Willett’s postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Hu acknowledged the “very large shoes” to be filled (size 11 to be exact) as he steps into the position of Chairman.

Dr. Willett, who celebrated his distinguished 25-year chairmanship last May, described the fulfilling experience of working alongside so many individuals deeply committed to public health, and watching his students and trainees proceed to do great things. “What could be more rewarding than to see one of my former postdocs take over my job?,” said Willett, adding that he has “great hope for the future of the department” under the leadership of Dr. Hu.

Department of Nutrition Members gather to celebrate Dr. Frank Hu and Dr. Walter Willlett

The transition does not mean retirement for Willett, as he plans to devote more time to his students and to conducting research. As a nod to his commitment to nutrition translation, Hu gifted Willett a plaque featuring “The Three Pleasures,” a healthy dessert design-concept  launched by Willett last year.

Dean Michelle Williams also addressed attendees, reflecting on Dr. Willett’s “leadership by example,” and the “highly supportive academic environment” he established in both the department and across the school during his quarter-century as Chair. In welcoming Dr. Hu, Dean Williams affirmed that the “future of the department is bright” and will “continue on a trajectory of success.”


By Brett Otis

Photos: Brett Otis and Katrina Soriano