About Academic Innovators

Richard K. Gaumer

Richard (Rick) K. Gaumer is founding principal of Academic Innovators. He has a long and distinguished business and higher education career in internal corporate management and assisting troubled higher education institutions become stronger and more sustainable.

Mr. Gaumer has enjoyed a unique career with over 25 years’ experience in a variety of private sector financial leadership positions and over 35 years of part-time and full-time teaching experience in higher education. From 2014 – 2018 he served as Vice President Business and Finance (CFO) at Emory & Henry College (EHC) in Virginia. Today he acts in a strategic financial support capacity for several small institutions, including Lakeland University (WI) and Lyon College (AR).

Throughout his professional career, Gaumer has applied best practice solutions successfully from a Fortune 100-sized business (Kohler Co) to the higher education industry. Mr. Gaumer worked over 11 years for Kohler Co in various positions, including a divisional controllership at a time when Kohler developed strategic plans and initiatives to recast its aged business model. He helped Kohler emerge as a global plumbing manufacturing company and concurrently worked to expand its world-class reputation in the hospitality industry. While at Kohler, Gaumer developed a keen understanding of ROI techniques, strategic planning linked to operational execution, and other planning techniques aimed at maximizing the use of scarce resources.

Later, Mr. Gaumer was a successful CFO for Strategic Data Systems (SDS) during the 1990’s when it grew to become a national leader in custom software systems for the property and casualty insurance industry. During this time, he worked with his alma mater, Lakeland University, to develop unique curricula in a joint co-op relationship between the two entities to develop systems talent for SDS where the student paid little or nothing for their education. SDS eventually was sold to a larger systems organization and is now operated by CGI.

As CFO at Emory & Henry College, Mr. Gaumer was extremely successful. He negotiated and secured a $51 million USDA program low-interest (2.375%, fixed), long-term (40-year) loan to refinance over $35 million of existing debt and finance a new housing complex. Also, Gaumer employed his ROI techniques and experience to define and launch several new Affinity programs for EHC including the new Marching Band program (over 100 new students in first three years). He was a 2017 nominee for the prestigious CFO of the Year award from Virginia Business magazine in June, 2017. As an educator, Mr. Gaumer has taught for over 35 years. He has taught adult, online, and traditional students in areas of Finance, Accounting, Information Systems, and Leadership. Gaumer worked at Lakeland for 13 years, earning tenure in 2005 and the prestigious Underkofler Outstanding Teaching Award in 2007. His innovation in curriculum design, adding a forensic accounting concentration, starting a large VITA student income tax civic program, and adding unique CPA and CMA exam preparation courses paid substantial dividends for Lakeland. Under his leadership, Lakeland earned national Top 10 exam scores on the 2004 Uniform CPA exam, the top score of a candidate on the 2009 CMA examination, and saw a student win the national Elijah Watts Sells Award on the 2011 CPA exam (top 20 scores out of 100,000+ candidates). Accounting.com recognized Lakeland University as the #7 Online Accounting Program in the country in 2017.

Mr. Gaumer’s deep passion is to help other, troubled colleges find innovative solutions to distinguish their institution and to put them on a new path for a successful and sustainable future.

Mr. Gaumer holds a master’s degree in Management from UW Milwaukee, a bachelor in business from Lakeland University, the CPA license (Wisconsin), and the Certified Fraud Examiner designation of the ACFE. He has taught extensively for Lakeland, UWM, Marian University, and UW-Green Bay.  Gaumer has served on numerous civic and advisory boards, including Fox Valley Technical College and Lakeshore Technical College in Wisconsin.