George Alter to direct ISR Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research

NEW: Read a profile of Alter, “George Alter: History from the bottom up”

George Alter (Photo by U-M Photo Services)ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Historian George Alter has been appointed Director of the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR), part of the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research (ISR).

“I am very pleased to make this appointment,” says ISR Director James S. Jackson. “George has the strong and unanimous support of the ICPSR Council and the ISR leadership. Personally, I am delighted to be able to continue the strong working relationship George and I have developed over the past two years that he has served as ICPSR’s Acting Director. And I look forward to working with him to strengthen ICPSR’s standing as the world’s leading data repository and preservation center and to help the consortium take advantage of new research and preservation opportunities.”

ICPSR is the world’s largest archive of digital social science data, with nearly 8,000 data collections currently archived and up to 500 new collections added each year. The archive’s membership has grown from 21 founding institutions in 1962 to nearly 700 educational and research institutions around the world today.

In addition to his position at ICPSR, Alter holds two U-M academic appointments. He is Professor of History in the College of Literature, Sciences and the Arts, and Research Professor at the ISR Population Studies Center. He is also president of the Social Science History Association. He joined ICPSR started as Associate Director in 2007. His five-year term as ICPSR Director starts in September 2011.

Before coming to ICPSR, Alter was a professor in the History Department at Indiana University, where he had held various positions since 1979. He holds a bachelor’s degree and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Master’s in Applied Economics from U-M.

“I’m thrilled to serve this great organization at such an exciting time,” says Alter. “There has never been as much recognition of the important work that we do at ICPSR, and the coming years promise to be challenging and productive.”

Alter replaces Myron Gutmann, who left ICPSR in 2009 to lead the National Science Foundation’s Social, Behavioral and Economics Directorate.


Established in 1949, the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research is the world’s largest academic social science survey and research organization, and a world leader in developing and applying social science methodology, and in educating researchers and students from around the world. ISR conducts some of the most widely cited studies in the nation, including the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers, the American National Election Studies, the Monitoring the Future Study, the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, the Health and Retirement Study, the Columbia County Longitudinal Study and the National Survey of Black Americans. ISR researchers also collaborate with social scientists in more than 60 nations on the World Values Surveys and other projects, and the institute has established formal ties with universities in Poland, China and South Africa. ISR is also home to the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research, the world’s largest digital social science data archive. Visit the ISR website at for more information.


Contact: Dan Meisler
Phone: (734) 615-7904


Contact: Diane Swanbrow
Phone: (734) 647-4416

George Alter to direct ISR Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research