Sanjiv Das left positions teaching finance at the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration and the University of California at Berkeley when Santa Clara University offered him academic freedom in 2000.
"They said that as long as I did research, they didn't care if it was in computer science or finance," he explains. "At Berkeley, it would have had to be one or the other."
One of the fruits of the professor's approach is an elective called Quantitative Business Models that makes extensive use of mathematical software – a first of its kind for a business school.
"I don't think there's a course like this at any other campus," he says. "It aims to remedy the incorrect believe that quantitative models aren't feasible for students who don't have engineering backgrounds. I don't think the QBM course would have been approved at some other places. I would have been accused of encroaching on computer science or the marketing field."
He has brought that same kind of innovation to Santa Clara, putting together a distinguished group of faculty and advisors to explore financial risk and innovation in the industry in a conference called "The Value of Values." Bringing together international leaders in the study of socially responsible investing, the two-day meeting drew academics and practitioners from around the world to Santa Clara.
"A thought process knows no boundaries," adds Das, who earned his doctorate in finance from New York University, a master's degree in computer science from Berkeley, and an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management. "It's hands-on learning, and brings the satisfaction of learning by doing; in my case, learning by teaching."