WWU’s Spratt Named 2008 Missouri Professor of the Year

Dr. Mary SprattDr. Mary Spratt, Cox Distinguished Professor in Science at William Woods University, is the 2008 Missouri Professor of the Year. Spratt received her award Nov. 20 in Washington, D.C.


This is somewhat of a coup for WWU. For the past 22 years, winners of the Missouri Professor of the Year award have represented mostly large, public universities.  


Sponsored by The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and administered by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, the award recognizes professors for outstanding commitment in teaching undergraduate students. 


According to John Lippincott, president of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, CASE created the Professors of the Year awards program in 1981 because we believe that excellent undergraduate teaching must be acknowledged and nurtured.”  Today, this program remains the only national awards program that specifically honors exceptional undergraduate teaching. 


Professor of the Year selection is based on four criteria: impact on and involvement with undergraduate students; scholarly approach to teaching and learning; contributions to undergraduate education on their campuses, and recommendations from colleagues and students.


Because of her enthusiasm and passion, Dr. Spratt has impacted the lives of numerous students, who have gone on to be pharmacists, veterinarians, physicians, physician assistants, teachers and scientists.  Here’s what a few of them had to say in support of her nomination: 

  • “While she may be one of the most demanding professors on the William Woods campus, she is very caring and really wants her students to succeed.”  

  • “She took the unmotivated fast food worker from rural Missouri and turned her into a successful educator…Dr. Spratt saw who I could become and she believed in me…she cared.”

  • “Dr. Spratt was an integral part of my educational achievements, and it was her genuine interest in my education that shaped me into an accomplished, successful veterinary student. . .Her interest in the continued welfare of her students is truly encouraging.” 

  • “[I] was able to experience Dr. Spratt as an advisor, a professor, a scientist and most importantly a friend. . .Dr. Spratt is a very caring and devoted professor.”

Over the past several years, Spratt and her students have worked to collect and analyze tick DNA from more than 35 Missouri counties. This year she and WWU were also accepted into the Genomics Education Partnership based at Washington University and the Genome Center in St. Louis. The project gives undergraduate students the opportunity to study genetic codes and genes in living organisms and to make substantive contributions to the published data in genomics.                                                        


Spratt earned a bachelor degree in biology and English from St. Olaf College, a master’s degree in biology at St. Mary’s College, and a master’s and doctorate degree in physiology and cell biology at the University of Kansas.


A WWU professor for 15 years, Spratt also serves as chief editor of sections of MicrobeLibrary: “Microorganisms in the environment” and “Microbial Evolution and Diversity.”