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 graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English from Yale University in 1960. Enrolling then in a Yale study abroad program in China, Light met his wife, Joy. They moved to New York City, where he entered Union Theological Seminary and then Columbia University. In 1971, Light entered the doctoral program in linguistics at Cornell University. He received his PhD in 1974. 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.