After more than 80 candidates officially applied during the window, which opened in early November for both nominations and applications, and closed Jan. 10, the Presidential Search Committee, in consultation with search consultancy AGB Search, winnowed the list of candidates to eight at a meeting on Jan. 20. 

After that initial narrowing, a series of intensive Zoom interviews were held from Feb. 17 to 19 with the semifinalists. This past Wednesday, after a thorough vetting and background check process, the Presidential Search Committee announced their three finalists. 

The candidates are Brad Baca, Dr. Maria Klawe, and Dr. Michelle Rogers, all of whom have bios and CVs available on the Presidential Search Website. You can provide direct feedback on the candidates via the webpage, beginning at 8 a.m. on the day of their campus visit for a span of several days.

In the space below, we will delve into the three candidates in some detail. Later on, we will publish an article expressing student opinions and preferences around the Presidential Search. 

Brad Baca

Brad Baca is a familiar name to many Western students, having been with the university since 2002. His professional background is largely centered on educational policy, fundraising and finance, and administrative management. 

Baca joined Western in 2002 as the Vice President for Finance and Administration, and currently holds the dual titles of Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer (COO). His wife, Julie Baca, is currently the university’s Vice President for Finance and Administration, and also the school’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO). 

In the gap between outgoing President Jay Helman’s tenure and the start of President Greg Salsbury’s time as Western President, Baca served as the Interim President from July 2013 to March 2014. 

Before joining Western’s administrative team, Baca was the Director of Budgets for the Colorado Community College System from 1998 to 2002, where he oversaw a budget of more than $200 million. He was also a budgetary and policy analyst serving under former Democratic Colorado Governor Roy Roymer between 1997 and 1998. 

Baca has a background in fundraising and handling educational policy at the state level, including representing Western at the State Capitol in Denver. In his roughly two decades at Western, he has directly overseen the university’s budget and financial dealings, various administrative functions, Human Resources Department, and Athletic Department from various periods from 2012 to present. 

Baca was recently a member Western’s senior Covid-19 cabinet, and he has also had a hand in shaping Financial Aid strategy, restructuring university debt, running the Elevate Western fundraising campaign, and assisting with the target fundraising campaign for the Paul M. Rady School of Computer Science and Engineering. 

Originally from Colorado, Baca is a first-generation Hispanic student, and he obtained his undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College in Government in 1994, and a Master’s degree from the University of Colorado-Boulder in Public Policy, with an emphasis in educational policy, in 1998. His master’s thesis studied the impact of Hispanic representation on the achievement and educational decision-making of Hispanic students. 

During the Spring Semester of 2021, Baca drew some ire during a forum for students to express their views about the Strategic Resource Allocation (SRA) process, which had earmarked multiple liberal arts programs for cuts. Baca was the Creator and Co-Director of that SRA study. 

At a public online forum, Baca referred to the student body as “transient” and “unsophisticated” after facing substantial calls from students for greater accountability over the SRA process and general pushback against the cuts to liberal arts programs. 

Baca’s full CV can be found here.

Dr. Maria Klawe

Dr. Maria Klawe is originally from Toronto, Canada, and brings a background in science and technology to Western’s search. A renowned computer scientist and mathematician, Dr. Klawe currently leads Harvey Mudd College, a private college in Claremont, California (about 30 miles from Los Angeles) which enrolls just over 900 students and specializes in science and engineering programs. She began her presidential tenure in 2006, becoming the first female president in the university’s history.  

Dr. Klawe’s career includes prior stops at Princeton University, where she was the Dean of Engineering and a Professor of Computer Science (2003-2006), and the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, where she held various roles as Dean of Science, Vice President of Student and Academic Services, and led the Department of Computer Science between 1988 and 1998. 

Before joining UBC, Dr. Klawe spent eight years working at IBM’s Almaden Research Centre in San Jose, California, leading mathematics and computer science research teams. Dr. Klawe earned her Bachelor’s of Science and Ph.D from the University of Alberta in Edmonton. Her first professorial roles came at the University of Toronto and Oakland University in Michigan in the late 1970s. 

Dr. Klawe’s expertise falls largely in the fields of mathematics and computer science, and include human-computer interaction, discrete mathematics, studying the interaction of gender and technology, and mathematics education. More recently, Dr. Klawe has turned her sights on improving K-12 science and technology education. 

Dr. Klawe has previously served on the boards of Microsoft and Broadcom, an American semiconductor and software company. She has earned a slew of honorary doctorates and leadership awards, and served on dozens of peer review committees and professional societies. She has been active on the lecture circuit for more than 25 years, and lists more than 80 academic and professional publications on her CV across a wide range of topics. 

Dr. Klawe has also served on the Founding Board of Advisors for, a nonprofit organization promoting gender and racial equity in the upper echelons of business leadership, since 2018. She is involved with a host of other educational and advocacy organizations. 

You can view her full CV here. 

Dr. Michelle Rogers

Dr. Michelle Rogers brings a diverse background in educational administration, research, and management to the Presidential Search. A first-generation college student, Dr. Rogers studied Public Relations and English Literature at SUNY Oswego (graduating in 1994), before earning a master’s degree in Educational and Academic Administration from the University of Rochester in 2011. 

In 2019, Dr. Rogers earned her Doctorate of Education (Ed.D) in Leadership for Educational Justice from the University of Redlands while serving in the university’s administration. 

Dr. Rogers’ doctoral thesis examined social class and the college experience, and she wrote a chapter on the topic of social class for the 2021 book “Social class supports: Examples of programs and practices to serve poor and working class students in higher education.” 

Dr. Rogers came to the University of Redlands, a private university serving roughly 5,000 students in Redlands, California (about 60 miles east of Los Angeles) in 2013 to serve as Chief of Staff and General Secretary to the President’s office.

In 2020, she was promoted to Vice President for Administration, where she now oversees wide-ranging departments like Facilities Management, Human Resources, Public Safety, Event Services, and Title IX, as well as an operating budget of roughly $30 million. She heads up the university’s Covid-19 response and is actively working to build a 30-acre, sustainably-developed neighborhood on university property.

Before her time at the University of Redlands, Dr. Rogers served as the assistant deputy to the president for Administration and Research at the University of Rochester  in New York and in information and communication-focused roles from 2005 to 2013. 

Previously, Dr. Rogers held various editing, publishing and management roles from 1999 to 2005 with Element K Journals after working as a technical writer fresh off her undergraduate studies. 

Dr Rogers’ complete CV can be found here. 

Stay tuned for more on the presidential search on!