Spratlen, a trailblazing African American business educator, was one of three people honored last year by the PhD Project, which is dedicated to increasing diversity in the corporate ranks by recruiting more under-represented minorities to become business school professors.
Long before the PhD Project began, Spratlen was a torch bearer for faculty of color in academia. After serving as an officer in the US Army, he received BS, MA and PhD degrees from Ohio State University and held faculty appointments at Western Washington University (1961-69) and the UCLA Graduate School of Management (1969-72) before joining the UW Foster School in 1972. He became the first African American professor at Foster.
Over the next four decades, Spratlen published more than 80 research studies on retail management and strategy, social issues in business, government regulation, public policy in advertising tobacco and other harmful products, and marketing and urban enterprise development.
The latter area of expertise grew into a course that deployed student consulting teams to help minority-owned businesses grow in the urban core. This course evolved into the Consulting and Business Development Center, established in 1995. Spratlen served as founding faculty director.
The center has flourished and expanded dramatically over the years. Its consulting and education efforts have resulted in more than $100 million in new revenue generated and more than 100,000 jobs created and retained by small and minority owned businesses across Washington. In 2016, the center extended its efforts to cities across the United States through the ongoing Ascend 2020, a partnership with JPMorgan Chase.
Spratlen, whose work inspired the center, has remained an essential presence across the decades. He and his late wife, Lois Price-Spratlen, have given $1 million over their lifetimes to the UW and the Foster School, ensuring the center will continue its vital work for generations to come.
In addition to his exemplary leadership at Foster, Spratlen has been involved with The PhD Project since its 1994 inception and has been an invaluable resource for doctoral students, young faculty and tenured faculty across the US, always willing to provide guidance and mentorship.