Skip to main content

Sullivan, Lenore M.

Published onOct 15, 2021
Sullivan, Lenore M.

(February 24, 1900 - January 13, 1967)

Quick Facts

Sullivan was a highly experienced member of the College of Home Economics’ Institution Management Department, an accomplished teacher and cook and authoritative cookbook writer.

c. 1959. Source:

Lenore Sullivan was born February 24, 1900 and grew up on a ranch in Butte, Montana. There she learned cooking early, preparing meals for her father, three hungry brothers and sometimes, several ranch hands. She completed a baccalaureate degree in Home Economics at Montana State College in 1927. She served her internship at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN and came to Iowa State College (now University) as a grad­uate student in 1928. She received the MS degree in Institution Management in 1929, and joined the Iowa State staff as instructor in institution management in 1930 during the tenure of Dean Genevieve Fisher.

She was made assistant professor in 1936, associate professor in 1938, and professor in 1943. Miss Sullivan retired on July 1, 1966 and was made professor emeritus shortly before her death, January 13, 1967.

Miss Sullivan's academic responsibilities were enriched by a variety of experiences in food service management in government agencies, commercial restaurants, and universities. During World War II she spent 3 months in food service supervision in the War Department's Pentagon Building. She made a special contribution to the state of Iowa following World War II by directing the operation of food service at Camp Dodge, Iowa which was used as an auxiliary campus for returning veterans. In 1935, she responded to a state board request to advise the Glenwood State School on preparation and service of food for children.

Miss Sullivan was a creative person. She stated, “Cookery is a creative art. Cooks have all the colors and textures to work with that an artist has. Food should be a picture on a plate.” Her students remember her for her teaching of the catering course, guiding them to an appreciation of the artistry of food preparation, gracious service, and an introduction to regional and international cuisines. Through her teaching, she provided a valuable cultural and professional experience for students and many enjoyable occasions for the Ames community. By sharing her recipes and her enthusiasm for cooking, she made a nationwide reputation for herself and Iowa State. Many of her recipes grew out of her class work with students from many countries contributing their favorites. Her enthusiasm, creativity, and desire for excellence were an inspiration to students and colleagues.

More than 25,000 copies of Miss Sullivan's book, What to Cook for Company (Iowa State University Press, 1952), were sold in the US and abroad. Her Quantity Recipe File was popular with people concerned with quantity cooking and 19,000 sets were sold, originally in a neat metal box. Both of these publications were used in the teaching programs at Iowa State University and had wide distribution. She said, “To produce really good food in quantity seemed a very worthwhile thing to do.” In addition to producing her own cookbooks, she was an avid collector with hundreds in her personal library.

At the time of her death, a colleague described Lenore Sullivan as a "rewarding person, always interested and always interesting, alive to ideas, deeply concerned about individuals and their problems, actively engaged in school, church, and community affairs, and plenti­fully supplied with a pointed, down-to-earth, Irish wit. Even during her long and discouraging illness, nothing could completely dim the spark that flashed from her mischievous Irish eyes.”

Miss Sullivan was a member of the American Home Economics Association, the American Dietetic Association, and Phi Upsilon Omicron as well as a member of the honorary societies Phi Kappa Phi and Omicron Nu. In 1963 she received a Cardinal Key Award from the San Diego’s Iowa State Alumnae Association, and in 1964 a Faculty Citation from the Iowa State Alumni Association.

The Sullivan Award was established by the Institution Management Department in her memory. The award is presented annually to an outstanding student in the catering and quantity food production classes. Sullivan House in Linden Hall (a student residence) at Iowa State is named for her.

Excerpted from A Century of Home Economics at Iowa State University by Ercel Sherman Eppright and Elizabeth Strom Ferguson; edited by Katherine Svec

Selected Sources

Lenore Sullivan paper, RS 12/9/2, University Archives, Special Collections, Iowa State University Library. Cookbooks are also in the ISU Library holdings.

Sullivan testimony by Ruth Robson for ISU’s Plaza of Heroines.

No comments here
Why not start the discussion?