Kevin Drumm

Kevin Drumm, PhD, is President Emeritus of SUNY Broome Community College in Binghamton, NY where he served for 14 years. Prior to leading SUNY Broome he was president of the Northern Wyoming Community College District for 6 years where he led the creation of  Wyoming’s first multi-college district with colleges in Sheridan and Gillette, Wyoming and a campus in Buffalo. SUNY’s 30 community colleges are primarily governed by 10 county and state locally appointed trustees. In Wyoming 6 trustees are elected locally.

Dr. Drumm has also served on multiple boards during his career, serving as chair of several including the New York Association of Community College Presidents (which includes CUNY) and being appointed by the Governor to chair the New York Regional Economic Development Council for the Southern Tier which includes 8 counties in south central Upstate New York. He also was appointed by the Governor to Wyoming’s statewide Workforce Investment Board. 

He has served on various AACC committees including twice being elected to the Presidents Academy Executive Committee and serving on an AACC Commission as well as the 21st Century Plan Implementation Task Force for AACC. He is one of the founders of the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship and was charter chairman of its 501(c)(3) board of directors. He also has served as Chair of the ACCT Presidents Advisory Committee.

Dr. Drumm holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Studies & Higher Education from NYU, a Bachelor’s in Education and a Master’s in Education Administration from Boston University, an Advanced Graduate Certificate in Alternative Dispute Resolution from NOVA Southeastern University in Florida, and an A.A. from Berkshire Community College in Massachusetts.

Spotlight Questions

1. Who was your earliest professional influence?

My earliest professional influence was Gary Lamoureaux, Director of Student Activities for my Alma Mater, Berkshire Community College (1976) in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. He did so much to help me launch my higher education career and in the process became a lifelong mentor as he moved from Student Activities to Dean of Students to twice Interim President at BCC. 

2. What are you most proud of personally and professionally?

Personally I am most proud of my wife and our 22yrold son. Both are in the business world with my wife being a very successful entrepreneur and our son on his way to doing the same. They both have to go out and earn their livings one customer at a time, day in and day out. It’s a very different life than for educators and other salaried professionals, so I am just so proud of their courage and drive. 

In my professional career, picking an aspect that I’m most proud of after nearly 50 years in the saddle is nearly impossible, with 19 of those years as president of two very different, medium-sized colleges. 

But I have to say I am most proud of hearing from students with whom I haven’t interacted in decades but who much later, out of the blue, credited me with helping them in some significant way. Right behind hearing from students is hearing from leading community members from both presidencies who still tell me how much they appreciated what I did to impact both communities while I was president of their community college. In many ways I viewed both presidencies in part as my being a conduit for the community’s needs that the college could help to address.

Beyond these two aspects of my career, more traditionally I’m proud of the roughly $150 million in infrastructure improvements and additions for both colleges in total. Particularly Broome’s infrastructure was deplorable when I arrived. It is a very different college campus today, including becoming residential under my leadership which was  something both the County leadership and the trustees had wanted for a decade or more under previous presidents. (And this only scratches the surface of what I’m very proud of. Union negotiations were the most challenging, especially in a state like New York, and we did very well with the 12 contracts negotiated during my 13+ years at Broome.)

3. What is your favorite pastime or hobby?

My favorite pastime is traveling, everywhere and almost anywhere. I’ve visited 45 states, including Alaska and Hawaii, and 10 countries so far. We also own a small motorhome. 

4. If not Higher Ed, what?

If I hadn’t landed on a career in higher education quite by accident, I had been focused on sports journalism at the time. But if another field had  existed when I was younger, I believe I would have seriously considered Nurse Psychiatry in a hospital setting. I seriously considered student counseling as a career but ultimately I decided I didn’t want to work with students one on one but in broader settings. So, starting out as a student life professional in student activities and residential life turned out to be a great fit for the first decade of my career. But today, being a Nurse Psychiatrist in hospital setting would very much appeal to me. 

5. What was the best piece of advice you have received?

The best advice I ever received was from an academic dean while I was a Director of Student Life at a then small, private university of just 600 students. (Today it’s 13,000.) We were dealing with a complex student issue and some faculty were taking the student leader’s side and criticizing me for how I handled the disciplinary matter. When I explained the situation to the Academic Dean who had received the complaints, and how misguided the faculty members’ understanding of the situation was, he said, “I understand, Kevin, and your decision makes sense but perception is reality.” From that point on I realized how important it was to manage campus fallout with the facts. If someone has the facts largely right, including my own motivations, I’m OK with the pushback that might result from my decisions. 

6. What is your favorite drink?

My favorite drink is an Arnold Palmer, not to mention he’s my all-time favorite professional golfer. (Of course this doesn’t consider my morning coffee which I guess is my absolute favorite drink. Until now, I guess I never actually thought of it as a “drink.” But of course it is.)

7. What is your favorite cuisine?

My favorite cuisine is Italian. My mother was a first generation Italian American and so my three sisters and I were raised on lots of homestyle Italian cooking. In this note, don’t cover your homemade, red pasta sauce while simmering it. Only after it’s done and cooled down some should you cover it. A cover will give it a bitter cast. 

8. What is your favorite movie?

My favorite movie is The Hunt for Red October. It provides excellent lessons on leadership. 

9. Fun fact?

For a fun fact, I attended the first AACC FLI in Pittsburgh and I was the first participant to land a presidency thereafter. While before the Advanced FLI was added, preparing presidents was not the goal of the original FLI because George Boggs didn’t want to dilute ACCT efforts on that front. 

Kevin Drumm ACCT Consultant