Former Secretary of Education

Richard W. Riley is the former U. S. Secretary of Education (1993-2001) and former Governor of South Carolina (1979-1987).   He currently is a senior partner in the law firm of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP, with more than 400 attorneys in offices throughout South Carolina and North Carolina, as well as in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Tallahassee, Huntington (WV), and Washington, D.C.  Secretary Riley counsels clients and works with partners to develop strategy on complex business, governance, financial and legal matters for local, national and international clients.  Secretary Riley also is Senior Partner in the firm's affiliate, EducationCounsel, which specializes in education advocacy, policy, strategy and law.

With the full support of the firm, Secretary Riley remains an ambassador for improving education in the United States and abroad.  He has been appointed Distinguished Professor and President of the Board at his alma mater, Furman University, and serves as Advisory Board Chair of the Richard W. Riley Institute of Government, Politics and Public Leadership there.  He also has been named Distinguished Professor at the University of South Carolina, and the College of Education at Winthrop University bears his name, as does the College of Education and Leadership at Walden University.  In addition, he speaks, provides leadership and serves in an advisory and collaborative capacity with many other entities across the nation and abroad that support education improvement at all levels.

Secretary Riley earned his bachelor’s degree, cum laude, in political science from Furman University in 1954 and received a J.D. from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1959.  He is the recipient of honorary degrees from universities and colleges in the United States and abroad, as well as numerous education and other public service awards.   In 2009, TIME Magazine named him one of America's Top 10 Best Cabinet Members in the nation.  In 2010, he was inducted into the South Carolina Hall of Fame. 

Secretary Riley and his wife, Ann "Tunky" Yarborough Riley (now deceased), have four children and 14 grandchildren.