Dr. Drumm McNaughton – Higher Education Consultant

Dr. Drumm McNaughton | Higher Education Consultant | CEO of The Change Leader, Inc.
Dr. Drumm McNaughton – Higher Education Consultant and CEO of The Change Leader, Inc.

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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, accreditation specialist, transformational 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 for consulting projects to solve some of the most challenging issues facing the higher education sector, including:

  • Accreditation: Getting higher education, colleges, and universities off sanctions (Warning, Probation, or Show Cause) from their accreditation bodies.
  • Board Governance: Installing best practices board governance processes at higher education institutions.
  • Strategic Planning: Facilitating strategic planning sessions that result in short-term business and long-term strategic plans that include risk management plans.
  • Creating merger plans for colleges and universities who are struggling to meet enrollment goals.


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 sectors as well as Christian higher ed institutions.

A representative list of his higher education consulting clients includes:

  • University of South Carolina System
  • Western Michigan University
  • Southeast Missouri State University
  • Elmezzi Graduate School of Molecular Medicine
  • Apex College of Veterinary Medicine
  • Ocean County College
  • King Abdullah University of Science and Technology
  • King Abdulaziz University
  • The Master’s University and Seminary
  • King Saud University
  • Chapman University
  • Southern California University of Health Sciences
  • Trident University

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

  • Research Triangle Park Foundation of North Carolina
  • 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 the Tennessee Dental Association
  • Military organizations such as the US Air Force Reserve and US Navy
  • NGOs, including the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development

Dr. McNaughton earned his Ph.D. and M.A. in Human and Organizational Systems from the Fielding Graduate Institute and a B.S. in Physics from the U.S. Naval Academy.


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 education 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 education consultant have 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 being named Chair Emeritus, Fellow, and Life Member of the Institute of Management Consultants USA.


Dr. Drumm McNaughton frequently presents at major higher education 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 has taught at the Undergraduate, 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, he 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. and M.A. 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, organizational behavior, development, and change, and a myriad of other areas. 

His consulting business was doing very well as he shifted focus to doing more organizational 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 at 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?"

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