City of Seattle proclaims September 28 “Thaddeus H. Spratlen Day”

Mayor Jenny Durkan and the Seattle City Council issued a proclamation naming September 28, 2021, “Thaddeus H. Spratlen Day.”

The honor arrived in concert with a celebratory two-day memorial for Dr. Spratlen, the emeritus professor of marketing who passed away May 20 after 50 years of trailblazing scholarship, teaching, mentorship, advocacy and profound impact on the University of Washington Foster School of Business and far beyond.

Malik Davis, UW Alum and legislative assistant to Seattle City Council member Alex Pedersen reads the Proclamation of Thaddeus H. Spratlen Day.

Malik Davis, a UW alumus and legislative assistant to Seattle City Council member Alex Pedersen, reads the Proclamation of Thaddeus H. Spratlen Day before his five children.

Family and friends from around the UW and Foster gathered to celebrate his immense and indelible life and legacy—the highlights of which are capsulized neatly in the proclamation’s text:



Thad Spratlen, back in the day.

Thad Spratlen was a genuine giant at the Foster School, a trailblazing Black business educator, a potent and prolific researcher of prescient societal challenges, an innovative textbook author, a mentor and role model for generations of students, a formidable advocate for greater diversity, equity and inclusion, and the inspiration behind a center that has accelerated the growth of small businesses owned by underrepresented minorities and in underserved communities across Washington and the United States.

The first Black professor—and the first to receive tenure—at the Foster School, Dr. Spratlen was longtime faculty advisor to the Association of Black Business Students. His groundbreaking research and innovative experiential teaching methods inspired Foster’s Consulting and Business Development Center, which he served for many years as founding faculty director, advisor and mentor.

He also co-founded the Caucus of Black Economists (now the National Economic Association) and championed The Ph.D. Project, which has quintupled the representation of minorities on business school faculties around the country. He is enshrined in in The Ph.D. Project Hall of Fame.

Lois and Thad formed an unstoppable partnership.

Dr. Spratlen’s impact was amplified by his long partnership with the love of his life, Lois Price Spratlen, the former professor of psychosocial and community health nursing who became the first Black Ombudsman at the UW before passing away in 2013.

Two days of fond and joyful remembrances by family, friends, colleagues and students were punctuated by exuberant African drumming, soulful gospel singing and dazzling tap performances.

The sprawling Spratlen family—the living, breathing legacy of Thad and Lois—urged attendees to not only memorialize their patriarch’s lifelong mission of justice, equity and inclusion—but also to advance that mission in their own lives.

To learn more about Thaddeus Spratlen, you can read the Foster School’s memorial or the tribute by faculty colleague William Bradford in Black Past.

Better yet, experience Dr. Spratlen’s life and teachings through his own words: he wrote and published the memoir, Journey Up from Down South, in the final year of an extraordinary life.

And if you are moved to contribute in some tangible way to Dr. Spratlen’s legacy, you can make a donation to the Thaddeus H. Spratlen Endowed Scholarship fund, which supports students learning and working through the Consulting and Business Development Center.

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