In this paper a comprehensive dynamical assessment of a high order synchronous generator plant is carried out using the Individual Channel Analysis and Design (ICAD) framework a multivariable control engineering tool that allows robustness and system performance evaluations. The great benefits of ICAD are elucidated and contrasted to those provided by the long-time honored block diagram representations. Several models used for the small signal stability analysis of synchronous generators are evaluated under the framework of ICAD. The study, which builds on pioneering work, reveals the great advantages of carrying out control system analysis and design with higher order generator models. Moreover, careful analysis of the ICAD's Multivariable Structure Function (MSF) helps to explain, formally, why some operating conditions of the control system are more critical than others. Furthermore, correct interpretations of MSFs are amenable to robust and stable control system designs. Two kinds of studies are considered in the paper; one assesses operation under various power factor conditions and the other under a varying tie-line reactance. The control system design and stability and structural robustness assessment of the system are presented in the second part of this paper. Moreover, results obtained under the ICAD framework are compared with those arising from conventional controllers.