Jay Light is Dean Emeritus of Harvard Business School and the George F. Baker Professor of Administration Emeritus. He earned his bachelor's degree in engineering physics with highest honors from Cornell in 1963. He then worked in satellite guidance and systems planning at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA. He enrolled in the doctoral program in decision and control theory at Harvard in 1966, earning his doctorate four years later. He joined the faculty of HBS in December 1969. After a brief leave of absence from 1977 to 1979 to serve as director of investment and financial policies for the Ford Foundation, he returned to HBS as a full professor.
Light was named Interim Dean in 2005 and Dean the following year. During his tenure, he has overseen the renovation and restoration of Baker Library | Bloomberg Center, which houses the world's preeminent collection of business books and archival materials. He presided over the yearlong celebration of the School's centennial in 2008, reconnecting with alumni around the world and leading discussions on the future of MBA education. He has navigated HBS through the financial challenges of the global economic crisis, deploying a strategy that simultaneously reduced expenses and maintained investments in areas of long-term strategic importance, including faculty research and student financial aid.
Light has overseen a range of innovations in the School's MBA program, including the new January term, Immersion Experience Programs (a portfolio of faculty-led seminars in selected regions around the world), and the launch and development of joint degree programs with Harvard's Medical School and Kennedy School. He has fostered new faculty initiatives in health care, science-based business, and business and the environment, and expanded the Global Initiative with the opening of a research center in India and a new facility in China.
Light previously served as Chairman of the Finance area (1986-1988), Senior Associate Dean and Director of Faculty Planning (1988-1994), and Senior Associate Dean and Director of Planning and Development (1998-2005) at HBS. In this last role he led the School's strategic planning efforts and helped shape new educational and research program initiatives.
Light has taught thousands of students in the School's MBA and doctoral programs, and in various executive programs for CFOs and investment managers. He is the co-author (with W.L. White) of The Financial System (1979) as well as numerous articles and more than 70 cases and notes. His interests include asset management, risk management, negotiation and deal structuring, and corporate finance. He has explored strategic business decisions in the money management industry and related fields. He also has examined how negotiation analysis and related techniques can be used in structuring financial transactions in the context of entrepreneurial situations, and to enhance value in private equity investments.
Light, originally from Ohio, lives in Belmont, Massachusetts, with his wife, Judy; they are the parents of two grown children.