Former Gov. Dick Riley statue to be located in Peace Center plaza

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Greenville native Dick Riley, a former S.C. governor and secretary of education under President Bill Clinton, will be honored with a sculpture in a very public place — the plaza in front of the Peace Center.

The statue, designed by Greenville artist Zan Wells, who created downtown’s Mice on Main as well as the bronze statues of Joel Poinsett and Charles Townes, shows Riley reading a book to two children. The statue will be installed on one of the plaza’s seat walls.

The design is meant to honor Riley’s commitment to quality education for all children.

Former South Carolina governor and U.S. education secretary Dick Riley will be honored with a sculpture in downtown Greenville. Greenville artist Zan Wells designed the sculpture.

Greenville City Council voted to accept the statue from the Friends of Dick Riley sculpture committee. Frank Holleman, Riley’s former deputy at the U.S. Education Department, and Erwin Maddrey, a Greenville business leader, led the committee.

Riley was Clinton’s education secretary from 1993 to 2001, and governor of South Carolina from 1979 to 1987.

He was South Carolina’s first two-term governor in modern times, the Legislature and the state’s residents having voted to amend the state Constitution to allow Riley to serve a second term. Riley, who was known as South Carolina’s “Education Governor,” pushed for the passage of the Education Improvement Act of 1984, which is considered one of the most comprehensive and successful education-reform packages in America.

The agreement suggests that three flags be placed behind the statue — one each to honor Riley’s service to Greenville, South Carolina, and the United States.

Dick Riley’s accomplishments

  • First modern governor of South Carolina to serve two consecutive terms.
  • Led the passage of the Education Improvement Act of 1984, considered one of the most comprehensive and successful education reform packages in America.
  • Only South Carolinian to serve as governor and as a president’s Cabinet member.
  • Longest-serving U.S. secretary of education (eight years).
  • Named one of the Top 10 Best Cabinet Members in U.S. History by Time magazine in 2009.
  • Member of the South Carolina Hall of Fame.
  • Partner in the law firm of Nelson Mullins Riley and Scarborough.
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