WMU News

Provost Timothy Light to step down in 2000

May 24, 1999

KALAMAZOO--Dr. Timothy Light, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Western Michigan University, announced today that he will step down from his post as WMU's top academic officer June 30, 2000.

Light, who has held the post since 1996, will return to the faculty to teach and do research following a year-long leave of absence. A national search for a successor will be launched.

"My reasons for this decisions are largely personal," Light said in a memo to the campus community. "I would like to have more time for my family. I very much want to get back to teaching and research while I still have a few years in which to do that."

"It is with mixed emotions that I have accepted Tim's decision to retire from his duties as provost and return to the faculty," said WMU President Elson S. Floyd. "He has done much for this fine University and for me personally, in this my first year. So on behalf of the entire University community, I would like to take this opportunity to thank him for all of the contributions that he has made and for all those that he will continue to make in this new chapter of his remarkable career."

Light said he will concentrate his efforts during the next year on the University's planning process and ensuring that planning tools are in place for the future.

"I'll be continuing my work on the University's long-term plan, working with members of the Strategic Planning Committee and with Dr. Linda Delene to implement President Floyd's academic priorities within that plan," Light said. "We'll continue the establishment and refinement of budgetary and statistical instruments that will help make systematic planning a regular part of the academic enterprise at WMU."

Light, a Kalamazoo native and former provost of Kalamazoo College, joined the WMU faculty in 1991. Before his appointment as provost, he had been a special assistant for international affairs to former WMU President Diether H. Haenicke, with whom he had worked at Ohio State University.

Light's academic career began at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, where he held several teaching and administrative positions from 1960 to 1971. He was a faculty member and director of the East Asia Study Center at the University of Arizona between 1974 and 1980.

Light was a professor and chairperson of the Department of East Asian Languages and Literature at OSU from 1980 to 1986, when he was named provost and professor of linguistics and Asian studies at Kalamazoo College. He went on to serve as acting president at Kalamazoo College in 1989-90, and then served for a year as president of Middlebury College before coming to WMU.

An expert on Chinese language, Light maintains adjunct appointment as a professor of applied linguistics at the Beijing Language Institute and as a professor of Chinese at Ohio State. He is the author of many scholarly books and articles for professional journals and has served as president of the Chinese Language Teachers Association and vice president of the International Society for Chinese Language Teaching.

Light noted that since early in his academic career, he has been in and out of administrative positions, often during times of transition at the institutions he's served. Once those transitions were well on their way, he has always gone back to teaching.

"In the years that I have been at WMU," Light said, "I have grown to love this University. People here have been truly wonderful to me, and I am most grateful for the opportunities that I have had here and will continue to have teaching in religion, a subject which I love. Administration is considered by some to be about projects and measurable achievements. To me, it is the friendships and associations that I carry when leaving an administrative position, far more than any list of things accomplished. That will be especially true here."

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, 616 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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