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Frostburg State University Nursing Scholarship Helps Continue Life’s Work

Frostburg State University Nursing Scholarship Helps Continue Life’s Work
Constance Spates, in a photo taken not long after she received her nursing degree in 1958.
Fund Named in Memory of Constance Spates Benefits Students in R.N. to B.S.N. Program

The late Constance Spates was, according to those who knew her, a nurse who went beyond the traditional limits for her profession, a mentor to young nurses, an advocate for regional health care and a truly caring individual. Now, to continue to support the concerns she fought for, her children and their spouses have pledged $80,000 to establish the first scholarship to benefit students in Frostburg State University’s new Bachelor of Science in Nursing completion program.

“Mom was a caretaker in her work and in her life. She was always looking after someone,” said Mark Spates, who graduated from FSU in 1982. He and his sister, Diane Spates Clement, a 1984 graduate, are funding the scholarship with their spouses, Lynn and Bert. Constance Spates passed away in 2007.

Clement said her mother was a role model for other women, especially other nurses, as she worked her way up through the administration at both the former Miner’s Hospital in Frostburg and later Memorial Hospital in Cumberland, now part of the Western Maryland Health System. Starting her career as a staff nurse, she retired with the ultimate title of assistant vice president of Ambulatory Care/Outpatient Services. All this was achieved in an era when women were rare in hospital administration, Clement said. At the same time, she was raising her two children alone and working toward a bachelor’s degree, which she received 20 years after her nursing degree.

David Ramsey, a former colleague and friend, first met Spates when she and the late Dr. Fred Miltenberger were working to establish a regional trauma center at Memorial Hospital. Spates was well-equipped to navigate the political, administrative and medical hurdles in this and many other major projects she tackled, he said.

“She really had a unique ability to understand the patient care side, as well as the administrative side” of an issue, Ramsey said.

Her children say that since their mother passed away, they’ve learned more and more about the way her life touched others, especially those nurses whose careers she nurtured. At her funeral, they were approached by a woman who wanted to express how much of a mentor her mother had been, and what that meant to her life. “She helped me become more than I thought I could be,” the woman told them.

Those who knew Spates feel it is only appropriate that a scholarship in her name benefits those nurses who are trying to advance their careers through FSU’s R.N. to B.S.N. program.

“Connie supported the advancement of nursing as a profession, including the increased role of nursing in medical care over the years,” Ramsey said. “She was a strong, smart, caring woman,” Ramsey said.

The recipient of the Constance Spates scholarship must be a registered nurse who lives or works in Allegany or Garrett County or contiguous counties in Pennsylvania or West Virginia. An essay addressing the applicant’s financial situation, professional goals and objectives and why they chose a career in nursing is also required. For more information about the R.N. to B.S.N. program, contact Susan Coyle at 301-687-4791.

The FSU Foundation has embarked on a $15 million comprehensive campaign, Staking Our Claim: The Campaign for Frostburg, to raise badly needed funding for higher education in Western Maryland. Donations to the Foundation support student scholarships and programs, academic programs, faculty development and other critical University needs. For more information about supporting FSU, visit or call 301-687-4161.

Web Address for More Information:

For further information on this release, contact:

Office of News and Media Services
Frostburg State University
101 Braddock Road
Frostburg, MD  21532-2303

Telephone: 301-687-3171
Fax: 301-687-7589