Usually, there’s at least a honeymoon period when a new college president is hired. Not this time.
Over objections from faculty, the Community College of Philadelphia's board of trustees on Thursday unanimously approved the hiring of a New Jersey college administrator as its next president.
Donald “Guy” Generals Jr., 58, vice president for academic affairs at Mercer County Community College, will begin on July 1 under a three-year contract with an annual salary of $235,000. He will also get a $1,000 a month housing allowance, a $625 a month car allowance, a one-time $15,000 relocation fee, and he will be eligible for a bonus of up to five percent of his salary each year.
Mayor Nutter, a member of the board, seconded the motion to hire Generals, signaling his support of a choice that became controversial last week on the day it was announced.
The faculty and staff union at the nearly 40,000-student campus urged the board this week to postpone hiring Generals, pending further examination of his work as provost from 2003 to 2008 at a troubled for-profit college in New York, the now-closed Katharine Gibbs school. The New York State Education Department found fault with the school in 2007 for having inadequate numbers of full-time faculty and remedial classes and for assigning teachers to areas outside their expertise, according to published reports. Gibbs, which was owned by Career Education Corporation, subsequently was closed after Career Education failed to find a buyer.
They also expressed concern that he would be the only president in the college's history, with the exception of the founding president, to not have served as a president elsewhere before getting the job.
But board chairman Matthew Bergheiser endorsed Generals, citing his reputation as “a great leader,” “strong advocate of student success” and “agent of change,” at each of his jobs, including the stint at Katharine Gibbs. Bergheiser said 30-plus people involved with the search vetted Generals.
A native of Paterson, N.J., Generals has worked in various administrative jobs at colleges for the last 30 years, including his role at Mercer since 2008 and posts at SUNY Rockland Community College in Suffern, N.Y. and Passaic County Community College.
“The agenda that matters most at this college,” Bergheiser said, “...is breaking down barriers for our students and giving them the opportunity to succeed. And at that job, I know beyond the shadow of doubt that Guy Generals will excel."
Generals — who has a bachelor’s in political science and a master’s in urban/education/community service from William Paterson College and a doctor of education degree in social and philosophical foundations of education from Rutgers — said he was ready to partner.
"My hand is extended,” he told the audience, “extended in friendship as well as extended to those willing to partner.”
Steve Jones, co-president of the union, signaled a desire to move on.
“Dr. Generals is now the president and we’re going to work with him,” Jones said, “and we're going to work together to make CCP as good as it can be.”
The college last month made public three finalists. Last week, it announced Generals as the pick. Faculty had favored a Connecticut community college president and a straw vote of more than 200 members showed only three percent in support of Generals.