Alum Looks to Overcome Challenges at Community College

Dr. Donald “Guy” Generals Jr. (Ed.D.’98) recently became the President of the Community College of Philadelphia, but never intended to work in higher education. Instead, he once considered attending law school.

After earning his undergraduate degree in political science from William Paterson University, Generals applied to numerous jobs and took a tutoring position in the learning lab at Passaic County Community College.

At the time, Generals was unfamiliar with community colleges. He was tutoring students mostly older than him who had families and full-time jobs. The experience changed the course of his career.

“Community college is one of the most important institutions in our higher education system,” says Generals.

Generals immediately saw the impact community colleges can play for non-traditional students. His colleagues pushed him to obtain his doctorate degree and almost all of them suggested that he attend Rutgers Graduate School of Education (GSE). Generals said the suggestion was one of the best pieces of advice he received.

“The GSE provided me the best opportunity to pursue my doctorate degree,” states Generals.

During his time at GSE, Generals developed relationships with fellow classmates and faculty. Generals built a strong connection with professor emeritus Dr. Dan Tanner. Tanner was influential in Generals dissertation on Booker T. Washington and Washington’s influence on progressive education.

Many years later, Generals expanded his dissertation and authored Booker T. Washington: The Architect of Progressive Education. Generals is an advocate for progressive education, and he feels that Washington did not receive the credit he deserved.

“It was a story,” explains Generals, “that I felt needed to be told.”

Generals’ experience at GSE allowed him to relate to non-traditional students of community colleges because he too had a full life – a family and full time job – outside of the classroom. In addition, Generals confidently admits he still draws on the lessons he learned to help him overcome obstacles that he encounters on a daily basis.

“The GSE helped me gain confidence to solve problems,” says Generals.

While Generals has been able to make strides within community colleges, the challenges grow; high tuition costs, funding problems, low completion rates, and adapting to online education are just a few to name. Generals believes that more people passionate about education need to help with our country’s higher education system.

“Higher education is a great field to get in to,” declares Generals, “and we need more great-minded people.”


If you have a passion for education, or are interested in getting into the field, follow Generals’ advice and check out the programs offered from GSE by clicking here.

If you are a graduate of the GSE, click here to learn how you can get back involved and stay connected.