Dr. Drumm McNaughton | Higher Education Consultant

Dr. Drumm McNaughton | Higher Education Consultant | Changing Higher Ed Podcasts | The Change Leader CEO


Dr. Drumm McNaughton is a Higher Education consultant, working with college and university leadership, management and boards of director to ensure they succeed in their mission.

He is an innovator, strategic management pioneer, mergers and acquisition specialist, accreditation and turnaround expert, and governance professional, with P&L experience in multiple industries, having stimulated transformation that propelled double-digit growth for colleges and universities, startups, and Fortune 500 companies.

He has significant international experience, lived overseas for 19 years, and worked/traveled in 50+ countries.

Dr. McNaughton is frequently called on to solve some of the most challenging issues facing the higher ed sector, including:

  • Getting higher education, colleges, and universities off probation from their accreditation bodies
  • Installing best practices board governance processes at higher education institutions
  • Facilitating strategic planning sessions that result in short-term business and long-term strategic plans that include risk management plans.


His change initiatives and counsel have resulted in over $500 million to organizations’ bottom line.


Dr. McNaughton is a highly sought-after higher education consultant with an impressive roster of clients serving both the private and public sector as well as Christian higher ed institutions.

A representative list of his higher education consulting clients includes:

  • The Master’s University and Seminary
  • King Saud University
  • Chapman University
  • Central Michigan University
  • EC-Council University
  • Capella University
  • Trident University

In addition to being a higher education consultant, he has worked and consulted with multiple industries, including:

  • Los Angeles Unified School District
  • Fortune 500 companies such as Dell Computer and DuPont
  • High tech startups
  • Nonprofits including the US standards body for management consultants
  • Professional associations including the American Board of Orthodontics and Tennessee Dental Association
  • Military organizations such as the US Air Force Reserve and US Navy
  • NGOs including the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

He served in the U.S. Navy as a Mission and Aircraft Commander for Navy reconnaissance aircraft, where he reached the rank of Lieutenant Commander.


In addition to being a higher ed consultant, he is an active independent board member, with 15+ years of board experience in multiple industries.

This list includes:

  • LIGS University (Chair, Nominating and Governance Committee)
  • International Council of Management Consulting Institutes (Board Secretary and Lead Director)
  • Institute of Management Consultants USA (multiple positions including Chair and CEO, Vice-Chair, Chair of Nominations Committee, and Chair of the Executive / Operations Committee)
  • Smarter Planet Enterprises Corp.
  • Guild



He is certified as a Board Leadership Fellow by the National Association of Corporate Directors and has moderated two panels on education at the National Association of Corporate Directors’ Annual Global Leadership Summit in Washington, DC (2018 and 2019). Additionally, his knowledge and expertise as a higher ed consultant has resulted in him being selected as a senior consultant for the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges.

Dr. McNaughton has been recognized for excellence throughout his career, including been named Chair Emeritus, Fellow, and Life Member of the Institute of Management Consultants USA.


Dr. McNaughton earned his Ph.D. and MA in Human & Organizational Systems from the Fielding Graduate Institute and a BS in Physics from the U.S. Naval Academy.


Dr. Drumm McNaughton frequently presents at major higher ed conferences, facilitates seminars and training, and provides webinars for higher education leaders. Please visit his speaker page for more information.


Dr. McNaugton is the host of the Changing Higher Ed Podcast dedicated to helping college and university leaders improve their institutions. His podcast guests are among the top experts in the higher education industry.


He and his wife live in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and he enjoys golf, traveling (especially to Hawaii), reading, and working out.


We all have our resumes and bios which talk about all the things we do, but how do we really get to know someone? Drumm has a lot of initials after his name, but that doesn’t paint the full picture . . .

Drumm was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and has a long heritage as an educator; his grandmother was one of the first graduates from Mount Holyoke College and taught high school. His mother graduated from Framingham Teachers College and taught high school. Drumm teaches at the Masters and Ph.D. levels at university.

He graduated from the Naval Academy in Annapolis, and following graduation flew airplanes and spied on people for a living. After a successful career in the military, he left the public sector and started his first consulting business, working with small businesses and start-up companies in the high tech and multimedia area. 

In 1995 he took a position with Dell Computer and moved to Austin where he helped build their eCommerce Systems, and following that worked for CSC Consulting.  

In 1998 he set back out on his own in consulting and at the same time, went back to graduate school where he earned his Ph.D. in Human and Organization Systems – an accredited way to say he understands people and organizations and can help them achieve their full potential.

He continued to work with Fortune 500 and mid-size companies in the high tech, financial services, chemical industries, and government, as well as teaching at a few universities in the areas of Leadership, Organization behavior, development, and change, and a myriad of other areas. 

His consulting business was doing very well as he shifted focus to doing more organization redesign and transformation, yet he was still feeling empty. Although he had consulted to nearly 100 organizations and had added $400 million to their bottom lines, he questioned, what had he done for society as a whole?

And then it all changed. Shortly after he received a call from a colleague who needed some help on a project for an education client and asked for Drumm’s help. He was hooked. 

Each day he would be at the gym by 5:30 AM and to the client site by 8 AM, ready for a full day. They accomplished so much to help them improve student test scores, instruction, program rollout, employee communications and morale, and other critical issues they were facing. Even with the full days on top of his teaching responsibilities, every day he woke up ready for the world. He was making a difference. 

From that point forward, being a higher education consultant and focusing strictly on the higher education industry was where he found his true passion and calling. Dr. McNaughton founded The Change Leader consulting firm and hasn’t looked back.


"I believe everyone wants to make a difference, and we owe that to our children and the world – to give them the opportunity to serve others in their own way and make a difference.

They can’t do that without education, and that’s where you come in. If you can touch just one person and help them be successful, just as you are, as Jimmy Stewart said in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” you have earned your wings. I’ve earned my wings and continue to do so. Are you ready to earn your wings and make a difference in someone’s life?"

Dr. Drumm McNaughton – Higher Education Consultant

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