Charleston Mayor Joe Riley to speak at December commencement

Charleston Mayor Joe Riley, who is retiring this year after leading the city since 1975, will speak at the University of South Carolina’s winter commencement exercises Dec. 14.

The 3:30 p.m. ceremony for baccalaureate, master’s and professional-degree recipients from all eight campuses will be in the Colonial Life Arena. Walter Edgar, distinguished professor emeritus of history at UofSC and author, editor, speaker and radio show host, will receive the honorary degree of doctor of humane letters.

The doctoral hooding ceremony will be at 1:30 p.m. at the Koger Center for the Arts. Marina Lomazov, UofSC music professor and founder and artistic director of the Southeastern Piano Festival, will be the speaker.

The university expects to award 2,100 degrees from the Columbia campus. Also receiving degrees at the December ceremony will be approximately 768 graduates of USC Aiken, USC Beaufort, USC Lancaster, USC Salkehatchie, USC Sumter, USC Union and USC Upstate.

During his 10 terms as Charleston’s mayor, Riley has been an advocate for preserving the city’s historic charm while also taking progressive steps to redevelop the city’s business district. Riley has been recognized as a leading expert on urban design and livability issues and has received numerous awards for his visionary leadership. Those include the South Carolina Governor’s Award in the Humanities and the American Society of Landscape Architects’ Olmsted Medal. In 2015, President Barack Obama appointed Mayor Riley to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation as the agency’s representative for the nation’s mayors for a four-year term.

In 2009, Riley received the National Medal of the Arts at the White House for cultivating Charleston’s historic and cultural resources to enhance public spaces and for revitalizing urban centers throughout the nation as founder of the Mayors’ Institute on City Design.

Riley is a graduate of The Citadel and the University of South Carolina School of Law.

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