A Voice for Education

Richard W. Riley, former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education and former governor of South Carolina, is a leader and advocate for improving education.

The Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership fosters a dynamic and diverse network of educational leaders who seek to support learners globally by leveraging the power of teaching and technology and who are committed to the pursuit of positive social change through education.

During his two terms as the nation’s top education administrator, Secretary Riley helped launch historic initiatives to raise academic standards, improve instruction for the poor and disadvantaged, increase parental involvement in education, expand loans to help more Americans attend college, and prepare young Americans for the world of work. As governor of South Carolina, he initiated the Education Improvement Act, heralded as the “most comprehensive educational reform measure in the United States.” In 2008, Secretary Riley was inducted into the South Carolina Higher Education Hall of Fame and was also named as one of the top 10 Cabinet members in the 20th century by Time magazine.

He is currently co-chair of the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future (NCTAF), a nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy group dedicated to improving teaching quality nationwide, and is vice chair of the Carnegie Corporation of New York Board of Trustees. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the KnowledgeWorks Foundation, a Cincinnati, Ohio-based organization that seeks through innovative, hands-on methods to improve public K–12 education and increase access to college.

A member of the South Carolina Bar and the American Bar Association, Secretary Riley earned a Juris Doctor from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1959, and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, cum laude, from Furman University in 1954. Secretary Riley is the recipient of numerous honorary degrees from American universities and schools abroad, including a Doctor of Humane Letters from Walden University. He is currently a senior partner at Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP, where he counsels clients on business, governance, and financial matters.