Dr. Mahesh Daas serves as the eighth president of the Boston Architectural College, a 132-year-old, independent private institution. Daas’s academic career spans three decades involving 17 years of varied leadership roles at institutions of diverse sizes, complexities, missions, and locations across the US including an AAU flagship university with a medical school, two public Research-1 universities, and an independent private institution. Informed by his lived experiences as a first-generation student and a first-generation immigrant, Daas champions the transformational mission of higher education to create a more equitable and just society. Daas has been recognized as an empathetic, inclusive, and visionary leader by Boston Commons magazine and Boston Magazine.
Daas earned a doctorate in higher education management from the University of Pennsylvania with distinction for dissertation in 2013; a master’s degree in urban design from Kansas State University in 1994 with John F. Helm Award for professional promise; and a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, Hyderabad, India, in 1990 with A.P. Riding Club Gold Medal. He has also received executive certificates in business and nonprofit management from the University of Texas at Austin and Harvard University.
Daas’s interdisciplinary work has been featured in scholarly journals, refereed exhibitions, conference proceedings, federal publications, and academic books. He was the author of the critically acclaimed book on academic leadership Leading with Aesthetics: The Transformational Leadership of President Charles M. Vest at M.I.T. (Lexington Books, 2015, 2019). The book chronicles how Vest and his team (including Larry Bacow, Robert Brown, et al) helped transform Massachusetts Institute of Technology from “the gray factory on the river Charles” into a world-class university through architecture. It has been hailed as “a tour de force of interdisciplinary scholarship.” Most recently, he co-edited Towards a Robotic Architecture (2018, Oro Editions)—the first comprehensive book on robotics in architecture—reframing and defining robotics research in architecture.
In 2011 Daas became the youngest educator and the first person of Indian origin to be elevated as an Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture Distinguished Professor, the highest national recognition for an architectural educator. Fewer than two percent of architectural educators have been so honored since the inception of the ACSA national career awards program in 1984. Daas served as the 2021-2022 Chancellor of the ACSA College of Distinguished Professors.
Daas has also been recognized for his longstanding contributions to design computing including receiving the 2013 ACADIA Society Award of Excellence. The Association for Computer-Aided Design in Architecture (ACADIA) has also elected him twice as its president. Additionally, Dr. Daas also been elected three times to serve on the editorial board of the International Journal of Architectural Computing (Sage Publications). Currently he serves on the editorial board of Construction Robotics, a Springer journal.
Daas has been actively involved with federal funding agencies. In 2011, he co-chaired a National Science Foundation (NSF) symposium and workshop entitled “Research in Materials and Manufacturing for Extreme Affordability” in collaboration with ASME and IEEE. He served as a peer reviewer for the NSF along with joining a 2010 NSF delegation to Israel to explore bilateral research opportunities between the two countries in sustainable buildings and technologies. He has also served on research, higher education, and advisory panels for the Canadian, Indian, and Irish governments.
Alongside his role at the BAC, Daas’s creative spirit
extends beyond his professional work: as an award-winning creative writer and
poet with an interest in existentialist and Latin American magical realist literature.
Honored for creative achievements, leadership, and innovative approaches to
teaching, Daas has delivered keynote speeches and lectures at scholarly forums
around the globe.