Skip to content

Featured Alumnus: Gary Solis ’71

Gary SolisAn internationally known scholar on the law of war, Dr. Gary Solis is an adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center and a member of the faculty at the International Institute of Humanitarian Law in San Remo, Italy. In 2006 he retired as a Professor of Law at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where he had taught since 1996, directed the law of war program, and been awarded the Apgar Award as outstanding professor.

Gary graduated from King Hall in 1971, with the third graduating class. He is a retired U.S. Marine with twenty-six years active service. He came to Davis a few months after his second Vietnam tour of duty and, after graduation, returned to active duty. In the following eighteen years he was a Marine judge advocate, a court-martial judge, and the Head of the Marine Corps’ Military Law Branch in Washington, D.C. He earned his LL.M (criminal law) from George Washington University and his Ph.D. (law of war) from the London School of Economics & Political Science, where he also taught before moving to West Point.

A 2006-2008 Library of Congress Scholar in Residence, Gary has lectured at all American and Canadian military service academies, leading law schools, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Rand Corporation, the Aspen Institute, and the Smithsonian Institution. He has been a law of war expert witness in courts-martial and Guantanamo hearings, and has provided expert commentary for The NewsHour, ABC and CBS Evening News, the BBC, Firing Line, and Anderson Cooper, among others. His publications include The Law of Armed Conflict: International Humanitarian Law (forthcoming 2010), Marines and Military Law in Vietnam (1989), and Son Thang: An American War Crime (1997).

Named a King Hall Distinguished Alumni in 2002, Gary writes:

King Hall remains a lifetime highlight, for me. My grades wouldn’t indicate it but, despite myself, I learned about academic rigor, precise writing and focused thinking. I didn’t master them, but I learned about them. My role model, Professor Jim Hogan, showed us that the law can be an enjoyable career and teaching law can often be fun. It’s been that, and more. Ed Barrett, Dan Dykstra, Thelma Kido and others were just a few of early King Hall’s dream faculty. The interest in public international law that was awakened in a King Hall seminar has never left me. Arriving before the building was completed, our class was a terrific group. I hope current King Hall classes, even with their workload and pressure to excel, still enjoy the King Hall experience.