Dr. Donald Guy Generals is the president of the Community College of Philadelphia, an open-admission institution in Philadelphia, PA. Established in 1965, the college is the largest public higher education institution of in the state, and has helped nearly 700,000 Philadelphia residents earn degrees and certificates that launch them into successful careers. The college plays a crucial role in the city and state’s economic development, with 78% of graduates finding employment in Philadelphia, and 93% in the Greater Philadelphia region.
EDWIN WARFIELD: Tell us about your career in academia. How did you wind up as the head of Community College of Philadelphia?
DR. GUY GENERALS: I actually started as a tutor and worked my way up through. I did a lot of teaching along the way. In 2003, I moved from Rockland Community College as Vice President to Katharine Gibbs College. Katharine Gibbs, as you probably know, is a for-profit institution in New York City. I was the provost, which is the chief academic and student affairs officer, and I stayed there for about four or five years. It was part of a large corporation, a billion-dollar corporation, so I learned a lot about the business aspects of the world. Basically, they were publicly traded on the NASDAQ, so understanding quarterly earnings, reports, and things of that sort was something that was a real learning opportunity for me.
Then, in 2008, I went to Mercer County Community College as the Vice President for Academic Affairs. Mercer sits right in the middle of New Jersey. I’m from Paterson, New Jersey, which is the northern part of New Jersey, and an interesting part of this whole story is that I took a train every day for six years, two and a half hours both ways, to come to Mercer County Community College to be their Vice President. Our service area included West Windsor, Princeton but we also had Trenton, which was a struggling urban city. Working very closely with the high schools there and the communities and community organizations was a really important part of what I tried to do there. While there, we embarked upon an academic mission, we developed programs, we created a number of faculty training opportunities, and I think I had a pretty good run at Mercer over the course of the time that I was there. This was during the time when the Governor put forth, I believe, it was a $800 million capital campaign, and we were able to pull down a sizable amount of that money. The money was placed into the pipeline—I didn’t get to see the fruition of it because I left to come to Philadelphia—but it was largely to develop the advanced manufacturing program, which they now enjoy there. We did do some capital projects in Trenton, where we developed a fashion design studio—basically it is a design studio but it was focused on fashion design—and we reorganized both physically as well as academically the Trenton Hall, which was the standing building prior to my arrival, so it’s a fairly new building at this time.
Connect with Dr. Generals on LinkedIn