Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

Richard Riley (1993–2001): Secretary of Education

Richard Riley served as secretary of education throughout all eight years of the Clinton presidency (1993-2001). Riley was born in Greenville, South Carolina, in 1933 and earned his undergraduate degree from Furman University in 1954. After serving aboard a U.S. Navy minesweeper, Riley enrolled in the University of South Carolina Law School and earned his law degree in 1959; the following year, he was as a special assistant to a Senate judiciary subcommittee. Riley gained much of his political experience in state elections. He served as a South Carolina state representative from 1963 to 1966 and as a state senator from 1967 to 1977. He also served two terms as governor of South Carolina (1979-1987). After leaving the governor's office, Riley worked as a partner in the law firm of Nelson, Mullins, Riley & Scarborough until he joined he Clinton cabinet in 1993.