2018-08-10 / Front Page

USC opens Richard W. Riley collection


Richard W. Riley Richard W. Riley The University of South Carolina opened the Richard W. Riley Collection at the Thomas Cooper Library Monday, August 6. It is part of the S.C. Political Collections in the Ernest F. Hollings Special Collections Library.

“I appreciate all the people that put together all of this,” Riley said. “I had a fascinating life. I’ve had every kind of opportunity in public service who you can imagine, and it means a lot to me. Here I have a place I can go, my family can go, and friends can see the very fascinating parts of my life.”

The two-part event began with the former governor and U.S. Secretary of Education attending a media gathering at the Thomas Cooper Library. Along with his remarks, Riley observed some of the collection that contains hundreds of thousands of items, including 3,000 speeches, policy papers, daily schedules, photos, research, briefing books, and audio visual footage. The collection spans aspects of Riley’s life from his childhood to his time in the legislature to his two terms as governor and his time as Secretary of Education for Bill Clinton.


These are some of the items that are a part of the Richard W. Riley Collection. These are some of the items that are a part of the Richard W. Riley Collection. During the media event, Riley recalled the first act he was involved in at the state level, the Good Semaritan Act. He first garnered interest in this after reading an article where someone was being sued after helping others out of a burning vehicle.

According to Thomas McNally, the dean of University Libraries at USC, the University began receiving part of the collection in the early 1990s. However, it was only in the last five years that Riley agreed to display it in the library.

The second half of the event was held at the USC Alumni Center where hundreds gathered for the official ceremony. Among the speakers was former President Bill Clinton. Clinton and Riley struck a friendship while each was serving as governor, Riley in South Carolina and Clinton in Arkansas. The two gentlemen bonded over their common interest to improve education in their respective states. One of Riley’s biggest accomplishments as governor was the passage of the Education Improvement Act of 1984.


This videoboard sits outside the library letting everyone know the exhibit runs through December 23. This videoboard sits outside the library letting everyone know the exhibit runs through December 23. USC president Harris Pastides also spoke at the event. Each speaker remarked on Riley’s career.

Riley’s political career began in the South Carolina House of Representatives, where he served from 1963 to 1966. In 1967, he began a term in the South Carolina Senate, a position he held until 1977. He was elected governor of South Carolina in 1978, and was re-elected in 1982.

In 1993, Riley was appointed by President Clinton to his Cabinet as Secretary of Education, a position he held until 2001.


Former governor Richard Riley speaks to the media. Former governor Richard Riley speaks to the media. The Richard W. Riley collection will be on display through December 23, 2018. The Hollings Library at the Thomas Cooper Library is open weekdays 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Return to top