Ted Alter, Ph.D.
My research and teaching focus on agricultural economics and policy, development economics, community and regional economics, community and rural development, resource and environmental economics, public sector economics and policy, rural policy, institutional and behavioral economics, leadership and organizational change, and public scholarship and civic engagement in higher education.
Alter served as Penn State's associate vice president for outreach, associate dean in the College of Agricultural Sciences, and director of Penn State Cooperative Extension from July 1997 to August 2004. As director of extension, he provided leadership for policy and educational programming, budget and finance, and facilities and human resource management. He was also responsible for government, industry, and constituent relations. Alter served on the Executive Leadership Team of the Vice President for Outreach and assisted in providing overall policy, program and administrative leadership for Penn State's outreach initiatives.
Before taking the position of associate vice president, Alter served as regional director for Penn State Cooperative Extension in southeast Pennsylvania (1989-1994), head of the Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology (1994-1996), and interim dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences (1996-1997).
Alter joined Penn State in 1976 as assistant professor of agricultural economics, was named associate professor in 1982, and professor in 1989. During sabbatical leave in 1986-87, he conducted a comparative analysis of local public finance and management issues in rural areas of the United States and Europe. He served as adviser and analyst for the Rural Public Management Project of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris, France from 1987 to 1989. He was appointed visiting professor at University College Dublin (UCD) from July through December 2005, and studied rural policy in the European Union and Ireland while on sabbatical at UCD.
Alter received the American Agricultural Economics Association distinguished extension program award in 1985, and was selected for the first class of the National Extension Leadership Development Program in 1991-1992. He is a member of Gamma Sigma Delta, the national agricultural honor society. In 2003, Alter was recognized by the Penn State Alpha Omicron Chapter of Epsilon Sigma Phi with the State Award for Visionary Leadership. He served on the board of directors of the Extension National Diversity Center starting in 2004, and was board chair from January 2005 through August 2006; the board of directors of The Rodale Institute, from 2004 through 2007; and the Pennsylvania Rural Development Council, from 1996 through 2007.
Alter serves currently on the board of directors of The Pennsylvania Rural Partners and the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, the rural policy research arm of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, and on the Pennsylvania Governor's Advisory Council on Rural Development. He is a Faculty Associate with the Legislative Office of Research Liaison, the non-partisan research agency of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives which provides research-based information and commentary to legislators and staff on policy questions before the House and Senate of Pennsylvania. He is also a member of the inaugural Steering Committee of the Pennsylvania Policy Forum, established by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 2009 to enhance the availability of research-based analyses of public policy issues to Pennsylvania public officials and citizens.
Alter is a member of the editorial board and book review editor for the Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, and also serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship. Recently, Alter was appointed as Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board for Keenan, one of Europe's largest agricultural machinery and nutrition businesses. Alter also served on the Barack Obama for President 2008 Pennsylvania Rural Leadership Team and the Obama National Agriculture and Rural Policy Committee. In the fall of 2008, Alter was appointed co-director for Penn State's Center for Economic and Community Development.
A native of Sylvania, Ohio, Alter earned a bachelor's degree in economics with distinction from the University of Rochester. He received both his master's degree and doctorate in resource economics and policy from Michigan State University, where he also was a National Defense Education Act Fellow.