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Sirico Parables book

    GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (July 12) -- Economist and Aquinas College Executive V.P. Stephen P. Barrows has been named Managing Director of Programs at the Acton Institute. Barrows, who also holds the titles of Provost and Dean of Faculty at Aquinas in Grand Rapids, begins his work at Acton on July 30.

    “I am delighted to be joining the Acton Institute and am eager to connect others to Acton's inspiring and life changing ideas,” Barrows said. “Having benefited from the Acton Institute's programming and seen its impact in the classroom, I'm grateful to become a part of this exceptional team.”

    As Managing Director of Programs, a newly created position, Barrows, 48, will oversee research, programs and education, and communications.

    Acton President and co-founder Rev. Robert A. Sirico said he was excited by the addition of Barrows to the leadership team at Acton. “With the talents and professionalism that Dr. Barrows brings to the Institute, I see a deepening and an expansion of our mission,” Sirico said. “Steve and Acton share the same moral and economic DNA.”

    Barrows joined Aquinas in 2013 as an associate professor and taught graduate and undergraduate courses in economics. Beginning in 2016, he was executive vice president, provost and dean of faculty. He led all student and academic affairs programs at the college, including study abroad, campus ministry, and institutional research. Barrows also led a team of more than 85 full-time faculty, 150 part-time faculty, and 30 staff members serving more than 1,500 undergraduate and 150 graduate students. While at Aquinas, he launched several new academic majors, established an engineering partnership with Western Michigan University and saw a substantial increase in summer enrollment.

    Aquinas College President Kevin Quinn said Barrows has been a leader on campus in many ways beyond his role as provost. “He has led with clarity and true care for the endeavors of our faculty, staff and students,” Quinn said. “On a personal level, I want to express my deepest gratitude to him for his service to this community, his candor, his collaboration and his sense of humor.”

    Earlier, Barrows served 21 years in the Air Force as an acquisition officer, an economics professor at the United States Air Force Academy and a faculty mentor at the National Military Academy of Afghanistan. He retired from the Air Force in 2013, holding the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

    Barrows has a bachelor’s degree in economics from the Air Force Academy, a master’s degree in economics from Pennsylvania State University, and a doctorate in economics from Auburn University.

    About the Acton Institute

    With its commitment to pursue a society that is free and virtuous, the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty is a leading voice in the national environmental and social policy debate. The Acton Institute is uniquely positioned to comment on the sound economic and moral foundations necessary to sustain humane environmental and social policies.

    The Acton Institute is a nonprofit, ecumenical think tank located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The Institute works internationally to "promote a free and virtuous society characterized by individual liberty and sustained by religious principles."

    Interviews with Institute staff may be arranged by contacting Eric Kohn at (616) 454-3080 or at