Our Team

Principals, Senior Advisors & Consultants

Richard Gaumer
Principal and CFO

Richard (Rick) Gaumer has a long and distinguished career in business and higher education. He has more than 25 years’ experience in a variety of private sector financial leadership positions and more than 40 years of teaching experience in higher education.

Early in his career, Rick learned to apply best practice solutions inside a Fortune 100-sized business as a divisional controller for Kohler Co. and has since applied those practices to the higher education industry. More recently, he has served as CFO at Emory & Henry College (VA) and VP for Finance and Strategy for Lyon College (AR). Rick holds a master’s degree in Management from UW Milwaukee, a bachelor’s in business administration from Lakeland University, the CPA license (WI), and the Certified Fraud Examiner designation from the ACFE.

W. Joseph King
Principal and Senior Advisor

Joseph (Joey) King is recent past president of Lyon College and previously served as senior advisor to the president of Emory & Henry College. As executive director of the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education, he helped almost 140 liberal arts colleges integrate inquiry, pedagogy, and technology to become more strategic and innovative. Similarly, as vice president of innovation at Southwestern University, he focused on strategic opportunities. As executive director of Connexions at Rice University, he led the first large-scale open education initiative.

In addition to his work in academe, Joey is a serial entrepreneur who has worked in leadership positions at several technology companies. He holds a doctorate in human-computer interaction from the University of Washington and has extensive experience on governance boards

Brian Mitchell
Managing Principal and President

Brian C. Mitchell’s leadership roles in higher education include serving as president of Bucknell University, Washington & Jefferson College, and the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania. He has served in numerous leadership and governance roles in higher education, including chair of the board of Merrimack College, chair of the Pennsylvania Committee for the Rhodes Scholarships, the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania, and the Patriot League Athletic Conference (Division I).

With his Academic Innovators colleague W. Joseph King, he co-authored the Amazon best-seller, How to Run a College: A Practical Guide for Trustees, Faculty, Administrators, and Policymakers (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2018). Their second book, Leadership Matters: Confronting the Hard Choices facing Higher Education, will be released by JHU Press in January, 2022.

Senior Advisors

Jeff Arnold
Jeff Arnold serves as the executive director of the Association of Presbyterian Colleges and Universities, a consortium of 52 institutions with historical connections to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). During his 8-year tenure, the APCU has established a Strategic Partnership Program with key higher education service providers, launched an endowment to support Presbyterian higher education, developed a Peer Consulting Network serving member presidents, and authored grant proposals that have funded a leadership development institute, an environmentally focused study away program (the Tahoe Semester), and a national post-graduate certification program for college chaplains. He previously served as vice president for business strategy at Ruffalo Noel Levitz, a higher education marketing services firm; as chief financial officer for 422 Group LLC, an enrollment management technology and consulting firm; and as the executive director of higher education marketing for The College Board. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Duquesne University and a Master of Education degree (Adult and Continuing Education) from the Pennsylvania State University, where he also served as a senior enrollment management administrator and an adjunct faculty member.
Richard Ekman
Richard Ekman is president emeritus of the Council of Independent Colleges. He is currently a fellow of the TIAA Institute, of counsel to Academic Search, and lecturer in the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. Previously he served as vice president for programs of Atlantic Philanthropies, as secretary and senior program officer of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and as director of the Divisions of Research Programs and Education Programs at the National Endowment for the Humanities. He currently serves on the boards of SAGE Scholars, Emeriti Retirement Health, the President’s Council of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, and Project Pericles (past Chair), and is past chair of the Council of Harvard’s Graduate School Alumni Association. He has also served on the boards of the American Council on Education and the American Academic Leadership Institute and on advisory boards for Harvard’s Board of Overseers Committee to Visit the University Library, the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute, and the university presses of Johns Hopkins and Louisiana State Universities. Earlier, he was vice president and dean of Hiram College and assistant to the provost/vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Massachusetts-Boston. His undergraduate degree and PhD were earned at Harvard University in History of American Civilization.
William (Bill) McGinnis
William (Bill) McGinnis has been an elected Trustee for the Butte-Glenn Community College District representing part of the Chico community since 1992. He has served as a board member of the California Educational Facilities Authority between 2011 and 2021. He has also presented at the Community College League of California’s New CEO Training Program and has served on the program’s planning committee. Previously, he served on the California Community Colleges’ Guided Pathways Steering Committee, on the Appeals Panel for the Accreditation Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, as a Board member for the Campaign for College Opportunity, and as a member of the California Community College’s Institutional Effectiveness Initiative Partnership Steering Committee. Between 1997 and 2006, he served on the California Community Colleges Trustees Board of Directors including one year as president as well as president of the Community College League of California. During the past two decades, He has served as a consultant advising Boards of Trustees in over 40 different Districts for both the CCLC and ACCJC. His educational background includes a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Business Administration from Midwestern College, a Master’s of Arts degree in Public Administration from the University of West Florida, as well as, Executive Leadership certificates from both Stanford and Notre Dame Universities. He is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force.
Ashish Vaidya
Ashish Vaidya serves as senior research advisory to the National Association of System Heads (NASH) and as a senior fellow for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU). He served as Northern Kentucky University’s president from July 2018 to December 2022. Prior to that he served a two-year term as interim president of St. Cloud (Minn.) State University (SCSU). Prior to his tenure as interim president at St. Cloud State, he served as the university’s provost and vice president for academic affairs. Before SCSU, he served at two different campuses in the California State University system, where his last appointed role was special advisor to the president for regional economic development at Cal State Los Angeles. From 2010-2014, he served as Cal State L.A.’s provost and vice president for academic affairs. Prior to his tenure there, he was dean of faculty at Cal State Channel Islands, where he helped to build a new institution from the ground up. He has published numerous books and articles, including serving as an editor of “Operationalizing Stewards of Place: Implementing Regional Engagement and Economic Development Strategies,” a 2015 publication of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. His extensive community work includes service on the boards of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, Cincinnati, Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber of Commerce, REDI Cincinnati, Tri County Economic Development Corporation, Northern Kentucky Regional Alliance and United Way of Greater Cincinnati. He also served on the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland’s Cincinnati Branch Board of Directors from 2020 to 2022. He holds a PhD and M.A. in Economics from the University of California, Davis. He also holds an M.A. in Economics from the University of Mumbai, India and a B.A. in Economics, Political Science, and Statistics from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai, India.


Our principals and senior advisors are supported by a team of professionals with extensive experience in higher education who provide subject matter expertise in crafting solutions for our clients.

Their areas of expertise include:

  • enrollment management
  • student services and retention
  • strategic planning
  • technology and online learning
  • shared services
  • administrative management
  • legal counsel