Rudolph Alvin Light (1909-1970) biographical file
Biographical file includes several photographs, numerous news clippings, articles, obituary, and other biographical information.
- 1958 - 1980
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Historical or Biographical Note
Rudolph Alvin Light received his Ph.B. in English and archeology from Yale University in 1931. He then enrolled at the University of Southern California, where, amidst the study of physics and chemistry, he married Ann Bonner Jones. The Lights moved to England, where Mr. Light studied physiology and medicine at Oxford for three years, receiving his B.A. in 1934 and an M.A. in 1936. Returning to the states, Dr. Light enrolled in the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and received his M.D. in 1939.
Dr. Light interned at University Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio, for two years, then returned to Vanderbilt for his residency. World War II interrupted his medical training; Light joined the U.S. Army Medical Corps in 1943, leaving the service after three years with the rank of captain and a Bronze Star. Returning to Nashville, he completed his residency and served as assistant chief of surgery at the VA Hospital from 1947 to 1948. Vanderbilt then named Light associate professor of surgery (1948), director of surgical research (1949), director of the apparatus shop (1952), and director of rehabilitation services (1956). He taught classes on operative surgery, clinical surgery, and surgical ward rounds. Light belonged to Vanderbilt committees on fellowships, scholarships, and animal care. His committment to medical education at Vanderbilt made possible the 1953 construction and furnishing of the S. Rudolph Light Laboratory for Surgical Research, a half-million dollar center financed by and named in honor of his father. He left Vanderbilt in 1958 to accept the post of visiting surgeon at Oxford, a position he held until 1963. In 1964, Light was honored as a Commander of the British Empire for his service to British education in helping fund St. Catherine's at Oxford. Light was also named to the Vanderbilt University Board of Trust in 1964 and to its Executive Committee in 1968, posts he held until his death in 1970.
Beside Dr. Light's role in obtaining funding for the Light Laboratory, he gave generously to a diverse range of purposes at Vanderbilt. In 1964, he made possible the construction of the History of Medicine Room in the Medical Center Library, a gift that resulted in thirty years of service until the Library's relocation to new quarters. In 1968, Light provided start-up funds for the Vanderbilt Television News Archive. A major amount from Dr. Light's estate came unrestricted to Vanderbilt and was disbursed for varied projects, such as the renovation of Neely Chapel into a performing arts theatre, the construction of Stevenson Center for the Natural Sciences, and the construction of the medical education building that bears his name, Rudolph A. Light Hall (1977).
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