McGrew chosen for highly prized Barr award

Photograph, Charles McGrew

Photograph, Charles McGrew


Charles W. McGrew received this year’s Barr Distinguished Alumni Award for achievements and contributions to the field of public health.

McGrew was honored at the School of Public Health’s Foard Lecture, held April 14 at The William and Ida Friday Center for Continuing Education.

McGrew, deputy director and chief operating officer of the Arkansas Department of Health, has held a number of leadership positions in the Department of Health.

Arkansas’ public health system has 93 local health units in 75 counties. Under McGrew’s direction, health services in the state were organized into a unified agency, resulting in improved access to care.

As the Department of Health’s liaison to the Governor’s Office, McGrew created In-Home Services, a $65 million Medicare-certified agency that delivers private duty nursing, personal care, high-risk maternity care and hospice services statewide to more than 26,000 Arkansans.

Thanks to McGrew’s efforts, the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement was established. The Center’s efforts allowed Arkansas to become the only state to devote funds from the nationwide tobacco settlement entirely to health care, resulting in the founding of the College of Public Health at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

McGrew also is responsible for creating legislation and funding for the building of a new state-of-the-art facility for the state’s Public Health Laboratory.

In 2006, he helped convince the Arkansas legislature to pass the Clean Air Act, known to be the single most effective way to reduce smoking rates and protect nonsmokers from the dangers of secondhand smoke.

McGrew received a Master of Public Health degree in health policy and administration from the UNC School of Public Health in 1973.

Established in 1975, the Barr Award recognizes the achievements of alumni and their contributions to public health. For many years, the alumni award has carried the name of its 1980 recipient — Harriet Hylton Barr — to honor her contributions to the field, which continue to this day. The Barr Award recognizes leadership, experimentation, collaboration and innovation within the profession; impact within the practice arena; and outstanding service beyond the requirements of the recipient’s employment.


School of Public Health contact: Ramona DuBose, director of communications, (919) 966-7467 or


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