NEW YORK Paul C. Light, the noted scholar of American government and civil society, has joined the faculty of New York University’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service as the school’s new Paulette Goddard Professor of Public Service. Professor Light is acclaimed for his groundbreaking research, writings and policy recommendations on subjects ranging from government reform and management to the “new public service” and building high-performing nonprofit agencies. He will begin teaching during the Spring 2003 semester.
“Paul Light has made tremendous contributions to the evolution of the New Public Service’,” said NYU Wagner Dean Jo Ivey Boufford, “through his provocative and groundbreaking scholarship as well as his expert service to high-level public officials and commissions. Combining academic excellence, cutting-edge research and rigorous real-world experience, NYU Wagner educates tomorrow’s public service leaders. Paul Light and NYU Wagner are the perfect fit.”
“We’re thrilled to have Paul Lit join NYU Wagner at this time of great momentum for the school and for public service generally,” said Professor Ellen Schall, dean designate of NYU Wagner and co-chair of the faculty search committee.
Paul Light is the Douglas Dillon Senior Fellow and founding director of the Brookings Center for Public Service, and served until earlier this year as its vice president and director of governmental studies. Before joining Brookings in 1999, he was director of the Public Policy Program at the Pew Charitable Trusts in Philadelphia from 1995-1998, where he was responsible for designing and overseeing a program for renewing civic life in the United States.
“The NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service is the perfect program for educating students who want to serve their communities and countries, no matter whether that service takes place in a non-profit organization, in a local, state or federal government agency or in a private company,” said Light. “NYU Wagner puts the focus right where it belongs: on the student. And that is why there is no better place in the country than NYU Wagner for me to serve.”
Light is widely acknowledged as a leading authority on government, public service and the nonprofit sector. In his seminal and controversial book The New Public Service, Light described how government has lost its appeal as career for talented young people within the new multi-sectored public service world that now includes nonprofits and private firms. He studies extensively the nature and appeal of public service careers, and the ways the government and nonprofit sectors can better manage their operations and attract young people who want to serve their communities and country. Light is currently senior adviser to the second National Commission on the Public Service chaired by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, a similar position he held on Volcker’s first National Commission on the Public Service in 1988 and the National Commission on the State and Local Public Service chaired by former Mississippi Governor William Winter in 1992. Light drafted each commission’s final report.
Light studies and writes extensively on federal government reform and organization, the civil service, the entitlement programs and Social Security. He has testified before Congress on subjects such as the presidential appointment process, reinventing government and, most recently, the organization of the proposed federal Homeland Security Department. He is a frequent contributor to National Public Radio’s Morning Edition, and writes a monthly column for Government Executive magazine that is syndicated by the Knight-Ridder newspaper chain.
Light has held a number of academic positions. He was associate dean and a professor of public affairs at the University of Minnesota’s Hubert Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, and has taught at the University of Virginia, Georgetown University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Light has written 15 books, including The President’s Agenda, the award-winning Artful Work: The Politics of Social Security Reform, Pathways to Nonprofit Excellence, and, most recently, Government’s Greatest Achievements. Two of his books, Thickening Government and The Tides of Reform, have won the National Academy of Public Administration’s Louis Brownlow book award for the best book published in public administration each year. Former Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) has called Light’s books on public management “wonderfully explanatory, and equally unsettling…. No regime lasts long enough for anything to be learned from it; little wonder the citizenry despair. But there is hope, and it resides in the work of this inspired activist and analyst.”
A native of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Light earned his BA at Macalester College in 1975 and earned his MA and PhD in political science from the University of Michigan in 1980.
Established in 1938, the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service offers advanced programs leading to the professional degrees of Master of Public Administration, Master of Urban Planning, Master of Science in Management and Doctor of Philosophy. NYU Wagner is known for its ability to integrate theory and practice. At Wagner, students transform personal commitment into public leadership and engage with a faculty that is changing the way the world looks at issues of public concern. NYU Wagner School alumni are in leadership positions in nonprofit, health and public sector roles in this country and internationally.
New York University, established in 1831, is one of the largest and most prestigious private research universities in the United States. Through its 14 schools and colleges, NYU conducts research and provides education in the arts and sciences, law, medicine, dentistry, education, nursing, business, social work, the cinematic and performing arts, public administration and policy, and continuing studies, among other areas.