The daughter of Charles R. Richards, Lehigh’s sixth president, Lenore Richards was pursuing a successful career as a professor and cafeteria co-owner in Minneapolis, Minnesota during the thirteen years of her father’s administration (1922-1935). Her impression of the university came from vacation visits and from discussions with her father about his goals for Lehigh. Born in Lincoln, Nebraska, she attended the University of Illinois, where her father was dean of the College of Engineering, graduating Phi Beta Kappa in 1915.
From 1913 to 1918, she taught institutional management at Kansas State Teachers College and then was an assistant professor of institutional management at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis from 1918 to 1924. Richards and a teaching colleague, Nola Treat, co-authored a textbook, Quality Cooking, in 1922 which was revised four times and became the bible of the food service industry. Determined to put their ideas into practice, the two women opened the Richards Treat Cafeteria in downtown Minneapolis in 1924. Known for the quality of its food and service, as well as the low prices, the cafeteria served more than 3,000 people a day for the 33 years of its operation. Coffee was 10 cents a cup and rolls were six cents, and each partner was able to leave an estate of more than $1 million to educational institutions. For a time, Richards and Treat also supplied the Great Northern Railroad.