A New Jersey native and community college administrator has emerged as the choice for the next president of the Community College of Philadelphia.

Donald "Guy" Generals Jr., 57, vice president for academic affairs at Mercer County Community College, was one of three finalists and the only one never to have sat in the president's seat.

But he impressed the college's search committee and board of trustees, who will vote to ratify Generals' appointment at a meeting on April 3. He will take the helm on July 1.

"Donald Generals is a dynamic thinker with a deep and long-standing passion about the work of community colleges," Matthew Bergheiser, board chair, said in a statement.

Bergheiser called Generals "a skilled administrator who understands the barriers to education that confront many of our students, and he has built his distinguished career on developing innovative approaches to overcoming them."

A native of Paterson, N.J., Generals has worked in various administrative jobs at colleges for the last 30 years, serving in his role at Mercer since 2008.

College spokeswoman Linda Wallace said terms of his contract including salary are being negotiated and would be released when the board meets.

The other finalists were: Judith Gay, the college's vice president for academic affairs who is currently serving as interim president and Gena Glickman, president of Manchester Community College, Manchester, Ct. Gay will return to her vice president post, the college said.

Generals' appointment follows a seven-month national search and a particularly rocky time for the nearly 40,000-student campus. The college last summer fired without cause former president, Stephen M. Curtis, who had run the school since 1999.

Pressure at the college had been building as state and financial support waned and contract negotiations with the faculty union dragged on. In October 2012, Mayor Nutter appointed himself and several key aides to seats on the board of trustees, in a clear and unprecedented move to take a more active leadership role.

Though a contract with faculty was settled in September, tensions continue. Steve Jones, union co-president, said the union was miffed that the college didn't allow it to appoint three members to the presidential search committee as in the past. He said he was invited to participate, but declined.

Faculty took a straw poll on the three finalists, and the majority of the more than 200 members who voted preferred Glickman, who had experience as a president, he said. Only three percent of voters favored Generals, he said. The group gave the poll results to the search committee before they decided.

"Glickman came across as someone in favor of the role of faculty in academic decision-making," Jones said. "She's also got a record of tangling with her board of trustees on matters of principle."

Wallace countered: "The college had a comprehensive search process that invited comments from faculty, staff, students and community leaders every step of the way. Opinions were invited and considered by the search commitee and the board."

Jones said he welcomed the chance to build a relationship with Generals.

"We really do want to try and start fresh," he said.

Generals echoed that sentiment.

"I will operate on faith and hope and look to build a relationship with a clean slate," he said.

Generals has weathered faculty battles in the past. In 2002, at SUNY Rockland Community College in Suffern, N.Y., where he was vice president for academic and student affairs, he, the president and board of trustees were the subject of a faculty no confidence vote over academic restructuring.

At Mercer, Generals helped develop the college's education master plan, increased on-line programs, developed study abroad programs and redesigned the school's developmental and English as a Second language programs. He looks to build on student strengths, he said, and supports use of varying tutorial supports to ready students for higher level college work.

Generals also had a stint as provost at the for-profit Katharine Gibbs School in New York City.

"The profit motivation was something I realized professionally was not for me," he said.

Generals' first administrative job was at Passaic County Community College, where he notes that he was the only administrator to serve as president of the faculty council: "I cherish that. They made special dispensation because of my relationship with them."

Generals has a bachelor's in political science and a master's in urban/education/community service from William Paterson College, Wayne, N.J., and a doctor of education degree in social and philosophical foundations of education from Rutgers.

Generals said he will move to Philadelphia. He and his wife, Joann Gonzalez-Generals, and their five-year-old son live in Lawrenceville, N.J. His wife is an administrator at Caldwell College in Caldwell, NJ.