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Boston Architectural College's Mahesh Daas Is on a Mission to Reshape Design Education

Check out this feature on President Daas in Boston Home Magazine

In 1990, Mahesh Daas became the first person in his family to get a college degree. Then, the following year, armed with a B.A. in architecture, he left his home country of India to study urban design and realize another family first: moving to the U.S. "Of all places, I landed in the middle of Kansas, which I was familiar with from Superman comics," Daas jokes. He earned his master's degree at Kansas State University and, later, went on to work in academia. Last summer, Daas packed his bags for the East Coast to undertake a new role: president of Boston Architectural College. His goal? To help foster increased empathy, diversity, and creativity in local design instruction and, in turn, set an example for innovations in education around the globe. "I thought with a doctorate in higher-education management, and my background in architecture and design, this is where I can make the greatest contribution, by serving not just the college, but also the world at large," Daas says.

How has being both a first-generation college student and an immigrant shaped the perspective you bring to your current role as the president of BAC?

Being a first-generation anything is an entrepreneurial journey. You're treading into a world where you know very little and your family knows very little. Life unfolds in extraordinary ways when we are open to new experiences. We have to constantly adapt and be open to rethinking our own decisions, learning a lot, and being very humble. A sense of belonging is also important. The first [thought] I had when I went to university was, I feel so out of place. That is what students and immigrants feel when they enter a new world. So making sure that people feel included at the institution and in the country is very important to me. The first-generation experience shows that nothing is impossible. If we put our minds to it, learning, building partnerships, and having good mentors will help us adapt.

320 newbury

BAC's main facility, a Brutalist building on Newbury Street, includes an exhibition space, classrooms, studios, and libraries.

What sort of educational framework does BAC provide?

Our students are carefully assessed by our faculty as part of a concurrent educational model, where students are simultaneously immersed in practice and academia full time. If you look at the past 15 years, 1,672 firms, industry partners, and nonprofit organizations have employed our students. That is a staggering number, particularly when you [consider] that we are a small, independent, private college. Right now, 81 firms in the Boston region employ our students, who make an average of about $35,000 per year. I believe BAC's educational innovations are models to be emulated not just in design education, but across the higher-education spectrum.

Click here to read the full Boston Home article.