James R. Soles, while not an alumnus of the University of Delaware, had great political influence in Delaware and beyond. Soles joined the Department of Political Science and International Relations in 1968, teaching courses on American government and public law. While a Delaware resident, he made one unsuccessful run for Congress in the 1970s, but his true contribution to Delaware politics came in the hours of counsel that he provided to state legislators and government agencies.
Before his retirement from Delaware in 2002, Soles taught and advised thousands of students, hundreds of whom served in politics in Delaware, Washington D.C. and states throughout the nation. Soles published in the areas of constitutional law, higher education and Delaware government; he was noted especially for his expertise in Delaware politics. Twice awarded the University of Delaware's Excellence in Teaching Award, Soles was chosen to become the first Alumni Distinguished Professor for his remarkable academic and civic contributions. Among many other honors, Soles received the University of Delaware Medal of Distinction in 2007. He passed away in 2010.