Former Charleston Mayor Joe Riley to Bring Expertise to the College

Former Charleston Mayor Joe Riley to Bring Expertise to the College

Mayor Riley served as the College's winter commencement speaker and received an honorary degree in December 2009.

Mayor Riley served as the College’s winter commencement speaker and received an honorary degree in December 2009.

Former Charleston Mayor Joe Riley, who led and shaped the Holy City for four decades before leaving office in January 2016, will bring his vast experience to the College of Charleston beginning July 1, 2016.

Riley has agreed to serve as executive in residence in the Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Center for Livable Communities, which was named for Riley in 2001. In this role, Riley will work with the center to advance its mission and share his considerable expertise in the areas of urban design, sustainability and livable cities.

“We are very excited to have Mayor Riley serve as an executive in residence with the center that carries his name,” said Kendra Stewart, director of the Riley Center and professor of political science. “The Riley Center is looking forward to the mayor helping us determine how the center can capture and sustain his legacy of great leadership in city government and urban design.”

CofC Professors Consider Mayor Riley’s Legacy.

Among Riley’s specific areas of focus at the center will be assisting with the development of an advisory board, working with the College to engage with the community on sustainability issues, working with the Riley Student Ambassadors program, guest lecturing to classes, and serving as an advisor on outreach projects.

“Having devoted much of my professional life to issues such as historic preservation, urban design and city planning, I’m thankful for this opportunity to share some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way,” said Riley, who worked with seven different presidents of the College during his tenure as mayor. “I’m especially grateful that I’ll be able to discuss topics about which I am passionate while standing on a campus that exemplifies Charleston’s national reputation for historic preservation.”

See the Top 6 Mayor Riley Moments at the College of Charleston.
Charleston Mayor Joe Riley speaks in Cistern Yard at the opening ceremonies for the inaugural Spoleto Festival USA on May 25, 1977. Photo: CofC Special Collections.

Charleston Mayor Joe Riley speaks in Cistern Yard at the opening ceremonies for the inaugural Spoleto Festival USA on May 25, 1977.

Riley has a long association with the College, dating back to his first term as mayor in 1977 when he launched Spoleto Festival USA with former College President Ted Stern in the Cistern Yard. In addition, Riley’s late mother, Helen Schachte Riley, graduated from the College in 1936 as salutatorian. The College awarded an honorary degree to Riley in 2009.

“The interdependent bond between the College of Charleston and the City of Charleston goes back centuries,” noted Riley. “And I’m honored to be joining an academic institution that plays such a vital role in the intellectual, cultural and economic life of our city.”

In addition, the College’s Addlestone Library and Special Collections are working with the City of Charleston to archive Riley’s papers, which will eventually be stored in the new Gaillard Center on George Street.