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The Case for Public Citizenship

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Federal judge and UD alumnus Leonard Stark to deliver Soles Lecture Sept. 19

​University of Delaware alumnus Leonard P. Stark serves as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Stark will deliver the 2023 James R. Soles Lecture on the Constitution and Citizenship.​

The 2023 James R. Soles Lecture on the Constitution and Citizenship will be presented by Judge Leonard P. Stark, who serves on the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Stark also is a former student, mentee and friend of the late James Soles, who was a faculty member in the University of Delaware’s Department of Political Science and International Relations for more than 34 years.

In his lecture, “The Personal Case for Public Citizenship,” Stark will recount how Soles modeled for him — as he did for so many others — the importance of public citizenship. The event will be held at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 19, at Gore Recital Hall in the Roselle Center for the Arts at the University of Delaware.

Soles, who died in October 2010, received the University’s Excellence in Teaching Award twice and its Excellence in Advising Award, as well as the University’s Medal of Distinction. He received many honors and recognitions in his distinguished career, but he is still best remembered for his personal dedication to teaching and to his students.

This annual lecture is held around the time of Constitution Day, as it also serves to commemorate the signing of the U.S. Constitution in Philadelphia on Sept. 17, 1787.

“Jim loved and cared for his students,” said Stark. “He had the ability to motivate people to do more than they thought they could. He was just as excited to help a student move from an F to a C as he was to help a high-achieving student maintain their As.”

Stark fits in the latter category. A Rhodes Scholar and Honors Program student, Stark graduated from UD in 1991 with three degrees — an honors bachelor’s degree in political science, a bachelor of science with distinction in economics, a minor in women’s studies and a master’s degree in European medieval and early modern history.

Civic responsibility and working for the common good were themes frequently stressed by Soles. “Jim always put himself out there when you needed help,” Stark said. “He was a constant reminder that we all have an obligation to give back.

“Jim was interested not only in his students’ academic enrichment but also looked at their development holistically. He cared about our success — and not just defined by things like federal appointments but also by ‘have we found someone to share our lives with?’”

Jim Soles was married for more than 50 years to the late Ada Leigh Soles, who died in June 2010 and was a respected civic leader and Delaware state legislator, as well as an academic adviser at UD.

As a student, one of Stark’s most memorable experiences with Soles was a study abroad trip to a divided Berlin in January 1989. One year later, on another UD study abroad trip, Stark returned to Berlin after the wall had fallen.

For decades, Stark has participated in the “Soles’ Seminar,” an informal weekend at the beach when his former students gather to eat, drink and talk about current events, politics, and their families and personal lives. While Soles initiated the seminar, his former students have kept the tradition alive after his death.

At this event, like many others, Soles was inevitably the life of the party. “He was always full of entertaining stories and his Southern charm always shone through,” said Stark.

The James R. Soles lecture is free and open to the public, but seating is limited. Register to attend by Sept. 15. A reception will follow the lecture. The Gore Recital Hall in the Roselle Center for the Arts is located at 110 Orchard Rd, Newark, Delaware, 19716. Parking and directions can be found on this website. For more information, contact poscir-info@udel.edu.

About the James R. Soles Citizenship Endowment

Shortly before Jim Soles retired from UD in 2002, many of his former students and colleagues created and contributed to the James R. Soles Citizenship Endowment. This endowment supports a named professorship, undergraduate citizenship stipends and graduate fellowships. Recipients have used this support in a wide range of accomplishments. Learn more about James R. Soles and this endowment as well as recent recipients.​

Article by Margo McDonough

Photo illustration by Jeffrey C. Chase

September 12, 2023​

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