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Remembering Thaddeus H. Spratlen, a trailblazer and champion of social justice

Remembering Thaddeus H. Spratlen, a trailblazer and champion of social justice

Monica Gerhardt

dr. thaddeus spratlen

Thaddeus H. Spratlen passed away on May 18, 2021.

Thad was a prolific researcher in marketing and society research as well as a groundbreaking scholar who paved the way for future faculty of color. Thad was the first African American faculty at Western Washington State College (now Western Washington University) and the University of Washington Michael G. Foster School of Business. He focused his research on retailing management and strategy, marketing and urban enterprise development, social issues in business, government regulation and public policy in tobacco advertising and harmful products, and affirmative action.


The abundance of his life and accomplishments is captured here:

Thad contributed to the AMA in multiple ways.  He participated as a faculty at the AMA-Sheth Doctoral Consortium in 1976.  He contributed book reviews and commentaries to the Journal of Marketing throughout the 1970s.  One piece, “A Black Perspective on Black Business Development” published in October of 1970, emphasizes the role of discriminatory practices and their consequences as major barriers to black business development; many of the sentiments expressed there still ring true today.  His work was represented in an AMA Marketing Classics initiative where he penned a chapter on public policy alternatives for change with reference to disenfranchised groups, focusing on efforts designed to improve marketing system performance. His thinking and commentary are still relevant, even more so, today.

In 2009, Thad established the The Williams-Qualls-Spratlen Multicultural Mentoring Award of Excellence (WQS) award alongside the late Jerome Williams and Bill Qualls in conjunction with the AMA Foundation. The WQS award carries on their legacy and recognizes outstanding mentors in the marketing community in the mold of Williams, Qualls, and Spratlen. The WQS award encourages and rewards outstanding mentors of people of color in the academic marketing community, an embodiment of Dr. Spratlen’s legacy.

Monica Gerhardt is Director of the Academic Communities and Journals at AMA where she delivers community-driven events, supports volunteer leaders and Special Interest Groups, and continues to foster a “sense of home” for fellowship and camaraderie among marketing academics.