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Remembering Lois Price-Spratlen: longtime nursing professor and diversity advocate


Date: April 16, 2013
Media Contact: Ashley Wiggin,, 206-221-2456

Lois Price-Spratlen and Thaddeus SpratlenLois Price-Spratlen and Thaddeus SpratlenLois Price-Spratlen, emeritus professor and University of Washington Ombudsman for more than 25 years, passed away on March 30, 2013 at the age of 81. A longtime advocate for diversity, Spratlen was the first woman, African American and nurse to serve as ombudsman at the UW, and spent more than 30 years as a faculty member in the UW School of Nursing.

A long-time advocate for diversity and equal rights, she authored the book African American Registered Nurses in Seattle: the Struggle for Opportunity and Success in 2001. The personal stories of these nurses include accounts of their education, employment and other personal and professional experiences with discrimination in the area.

A professor in the department of psychosocial and community health, Price-Spratlen demonstrated her deep commitment to promoting diversity in the School of Nursing as well as the entire university and the community at large by supporting educational opportunity efforts through her fund raising on behalf of African American students; assisting with recruiting, mentoring and supporting diverse students, faculty and staff; and promoting participation in the UW Alumni Association multicultural activities. Price-Spratlen was an active member of the Mary Mahoney Professional Nurses Organization, a local group supporting African American Nursing students and was the founder of its endowed scholarship fund.

Oliver Osbourne, retired professor and former Chair of the dept. of Psychosocial and Community Health, recalls Price-Spratlen's arrival at the UW School of Nursing. She was hired as a faculty member in the mid-1970’s at a time when the school was moving towards requiring a doctoral degree to join the faculty. At the time, Osbourne notes, Price-Spratlen had just completed her master’s degree and moved to Seattle. Osbourne encouraged her to obtain her doctorate, and within a year, she had resigned her position in nursing and was actively pursuing a PhD in Urban Planning while raising her family with her husband, Thaddeus, a professor in the business school. Shortly after completing her doctorate, she returned to her position on the faculty.

“She was incredibly determined,” he said.

While serving as a faculty member in the School of Nursing, Price-Spratlen took the job as Obmudsman for Sexual Harrassment at the UW in 1982, and later an additional role as Ombudsman for the entire University in 1988. She held both positions until her retirement in 2009.

"She was very proud of the nursing aspects she brought to the Ombudsman's role," said Osbourne. "As the first nurse, she brought nursing theory into the Ombudsman role, providing a caring and holistic experience for those seeking the Ombudsman's advice."

A national board certified psychotherapist, Price-Spratlen joined the American Academy of Nursing as a fellow in 1999 and was inducted into the Washington State Nurses Hall of Fame in 2006. In 2013, she received the Gretchen A. Schodde Lifetime Achievement Award by the Association of Advanced Practice Psychiatric Nurses for her “creativity, vision, devotion, and inspiration to others while providing outstanding services and leadership in healthcare.” She received the 2006 Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Award presented by UW Health Sciences and UW Medicine in recognition of her leadership in diversity. She was also a 2005 recipient of MAP’s Samuel E. Kelly Distinguished Alumni Award.

 “She was a great listener,” Osbourne said. “She was always interested in other people’s ideas, what they were doing and how they were doing it, especially her colleagues and students.”

Price-Spratlen received a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Hampton University (1954), a master’s degree in community mental health from UCLA (1972) and a Ph.D. in urban planning from the UW (1976). She and her husband Thad Spratlen, UW professor emeritus of marketing, are UW laureate donors, having given $1 million to the University. She retired from the UW in 2009, when she was named professor and ombudsman emerita. She spent a portion of her retirement involved in supporting the development of young nurses through the Mary Mahoney Professional Nurses Endowment and the UW MAP program.

A public celebration of her life and memorial service will be scheduled at the University of Washington campus on July 14, 2013, Kane Hall room 120 at 1pm. You can read her full obituary here.


The University of Washington School of Nursing is consistently a top-rated nursing school, according to U.S. News & World Report. Ranked No. 2 in research funding from the National Institutes of Health in 2011, the UW School of Nursing is a national and international leader in improving the health and well-being of individuals, families and communities. The school addresses society’s most pressing challenges in health care through innovative teaching, award winning research and community service. For more information, visit