Since completion of his B.S. degree in 1967 and his M.A. in 1968, Dr. J. Douglas McAlister has continued his commitment to ETSU. A member of the NAA board for nine years, McAlister has held the offices of treasurer, secretary, vice president, and president. He has also participated in other campus events including commencement, Committee of 1000, Challenge 2000, and the Alumni Return to the Classroom program. At Virginia Tech, McAlister is a member of the university's Outreach Division administrative management team where he serves as Executive Director of Public Service Programs. From this position, he provides statewide leadership to economic and community development programs. The primary responsibility of his division includes ongoing communication and technical support for city, county, and state government agencies with respect to economic development.
Regarded as a tenacious and articulate spokesperson for economic development programs, McAlister has been selected by governors of both parties to serve Virginia. Furthermore, five governors have selected him for service on gubernatorial commissions to enhance economic development. Additionally, while completing a doctorate at the University of Georgia, he served on a task force for Governor Maddox and President Carter.
McAlister has distinguished himself as an academic leader. He has participated in two White House conferences - one on small business development and the other on technology and tourism. McAlister is the author of more than 170 publications, and has served as the principal investigator for external research funding in excess of $3 million.
Internationally recognized for his professional expertise in community and economic development, McAlister has been selected to conduct intensive training programs by U.S. embassies in Austria, Canada, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Germany, Haiti, Italy, Jamaica, Poland, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Slovak Republic, and Switzerland. From each country, he sent back photos of himself carrying an ETSU umbrella and wearing blue and gold shirts as a demonstration of ETSU PRIDE worldwide.
"Service Above Self" is the motto for Rotary International and McAlister's life has reflected his commitment to that standard. He has held every office in the local community organization, and in 1982-1983 he served as District Governor for the states of Virginia and Tennessee. He was also selected to serve on three international management committees, as well as having been selected for several unique international assignments, out of a membership exceeding 1.2 million people. For example, in Haiti he oversaw the development of the first well for drinking water for a community of 70,000 people. Previously, the water supply came from a stream that was rampant with contamination. In addition, he assisted with the opening of a medical clinic in conjunction with the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in an area where the closest medical facility was five hours away. In Jamaica, McAlister provided assistance in establishing the first job training program for the handicapped. The site produces beekeeping garments, exported to more than 30 countries, and currently employs 250 handicapped Jamaicans.
McAlister's community leadership demonstrated his civic commitment. He has served on the United Way as University Chairperson for Virginia Tech; Regional Chairperson for Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Radford, and Montgomery counties; and on the Commonwealth of the Virginia United Way board for seven years. For the YMCA, he was on the statewide board for six years. He was a founding member of the Greater Blacksburg Chamber of Commerce and a chairperson for three years of the Blacksburg Recreation Authority. He has also been a board member of the Montgomery County Chapter of Keep America Beautiful, as well as serving on the local and regional planning and development commissions. Finally, he has served as co-chair for Blacksburg's successful effort to become an "All American City."
McAlister and his wife, Pat Brown, also an ETSU graduate, reside in Blacksburg, Virginia. They have two children, Kim McAlister Lowe, a 1991 graduate and Dr. Sean McAlister, who earned an undergraduate degree in 1990 and a graduate degree in 1992.