#Riley20 20 Years. Leadership. Knowledge. Impact.


Founded in October 1999 and named for S.C. Governor and U.S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley, the Riley Institute at Furman University is celebrating 20 years of leadership, knowledge, and impact.

Fellows in Residence

In its first year, the Riley Institute began to bring prominent thinkers and leaders to campus to involve students and the community in dialogue around critical emerging issues. The Institute’s goal was to “bring the world to Furman” for the benefit of Furman students and the community.

October 21-22, 1999: Former U.S. Secretary of Treasury Robert E. Rubin was the Riley Institute's first Fellow in Residence.

Fellows in Residence teach classes, give public addresses, meet with students individually or in groups, meet with citizens in the Greenville area and around the state and generally share their knowledge and experiences with the academic community and the public.

March 26 - 28, 2018

The Riley Institute hosted its 19th Fellow in Residence Jeffrey Ball, an award winning writer and scholar-in-residence at Stanford University whose work focuses on energy and the environment.


Teachers of Government

The Richard W. Riley Summer Institute for Teachers of Government (TOG) is a week-long summer institute for middle and high school school teachers of government.

The inaugural TOG program July 16 - 27, 2001.

Participants spend a week in Washington, D.C. where they meet with government officials, politicians, non-governmental activists and members of education policy-making agencies. Furman political science professors lead the participants through Washington and engage the group in evening discussions and seminars on relevant readings and political topics. The combination of intensive learning, networking and exposure to decision makers is designed to increase the knowledge and expand useful contacts of teachers which both support improved teaching skills.

July 15, 2019

The 17th class of Teachers of Government.

136 S.C. teachers have now benefited from the program.


Emerging Public Leaders

Emerging Public Leaders (EPL) is an intensive, statewide, and service-oriented leadership program for 16 rising high school seniors across South Carolina each year.

The first class of Emerging Public Leaders July 28 - August 3, 2002.

EPL creates young community leaders who will influence their peers, their schools, and ultimately the cities and towns where they live. Participants learn not only how to lead, but how to lead in an increasingly diverse state.

260 South Carolina teens have now completed the EPL program.

All EPL students have gone on to attend college, many at Furman University.

And each graduate has completed a service project in their community.

Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is an organization comprised of 21 member economies from Asia and the Pacific Rim that gather together annually to discuss three main pillars: trade and investment liberalization; business facilitation; and economic and technical cooperation.

October 22 - 27, 2002: The first APEC delegation travels to Los Cabos, Mexico.

Students and educators from Mexico, the United States and other APEC member economies are invited to participate in APEC meetings through the program, “Voices of the Future for APEC.” To date, Furman students are the only U.S. undergraduates invited to the yearly gathering with the Pacific Rim government and business leaders.

November 12 - 18, 2018

The 15th APEC delegation traveled to Papua New Guinea.

Policy Events

The Riley Institute's policy events are an extension of its work to provide attention to critical emerging issues. These events provide a platform for significant exchanges of ideas among interested members of the community, Furman students, and national and international figures.

March 20-21, 2002

Madeleine Albright, the first female U.S. Secretary of State

October 12, 2005

Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich

April 13, 2009

Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president of Liberia

March 1, 2013

Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative

April 15, 2013

The Honorable Sandra Day O’Connor, the first female U.S. Supreme Court Justice

April 8, 2014

President Bill Clinton

September 18, 2017

Dr. Henry Louis "Skip" Gates, Jr., professor and director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University

Emmy award-winning filmmaker, journalist, and cultural critic

August 31, 2017

Chuck Todd, moderator of “Meet the Press” and NBC News political director


Diversity Leaders Initiative

Carefully selected, established leaders from all sectors of South Carolina society take part in the Riley Institute at Furman’s Diversity Leaders Initiative (DLI), a unique, highly interactive, multi- award winning program that imparts deep knowledge and skills to effectively manage and lead increasingly diverse workers, clients and constituents.

(L) Secretary Riley and Juan Johnson. (R) The first Upstate DLI class.

DLI expanded to the Lowcountry in 2006.

The first Lowcountry DLI class.

DLI expanded to the Midlands in 2007.

The first Midlands DLI class.

DLI graduates become Riley Fellows, members of a powerful, cross-sector, statewide network.

There are now more than 2,100 Riley Fellows across the state.

Pictured: The 27th class of Upstate Riley Fellows.

Riley Fellows have completed 260 community action projects in their communities. To name a few:

Greenville Greeters

Riley Fellow Beth Rusch, director of West End Events for the Greenville Drive, with Greenville Greeter John Maddox. Greenville Greeters brings people with disabilities into workplaces to help people without disabilities understand their talents, skills and abilities.

Camp Hope

Senior Patrol Officer Jeff Ward visits with children from Camp Hope during a cruise on the Charleston Harbor. Camp Hope, a long-running summer evening camp for underserved children from downtown Charleston, provides cultural and education enrichment and grows health, wellbeing, and personal and social responsibility.

Unite Summerton

Seniors from public Scott's Branch High School (94% black) and private Clarendon Hall (99% white), both in Clarendon County, spruce up a community park. Unite Summerton brought students from these schools together in service leadership to break down racial barriers and beautify the community.


Upstate Diversity Leadership Award Celebration

The annual Upstate Diversity Leadership Awards dinner originated as a community action project during the 2004 Upstate DLI class. As their group project, "Inclusion Infusion" suggested an annual event that would recognize organizations and individuals for their accomplishments in improving diversity in the Upstate. The idea developed and was quickly adopted by the Riley Institute and the Anderson, Greenville and Spartanburg Chambers of Commerce, all of which have had representatives complete the DLI program.

The first Diversity Leadership Awards celebration May 10, 2005. (L) Chris Riley presenting the Outstanding Individual Award to Calder Ehrmann. (R) The dinner was attended by more than 600 community members.

Winners of the diversity award (individuals and organizations) are role models in promoting diversity in the areas of business, individual leadership, community building, schools and civic organizations.

May 28, 2019

The 15th annual Diversity Leadership Awards Celebration.

Statewide Education Study funded by Hewlett Foundation

The Riley Institute's education research work began with a two-year study of public education in South Carolina.

How do we effectively redesign public schools to prepare a larger number of students to graduate, succeed in college or career training, and compete in the global marketplace?

An excerpt of the findings from the Hewlett Study.

Over 150 briefings were held across the state to disseminate the findings.

The Hewlett study was the first of many more research projects to come for the Institute.


David H. Wilkins Awards for Leadership

The Wilkins Awards are named for former Speaker of the S.C. House of Representatives and Ambassador to Canada, David H. Wilkins and honor the leadership, courage, vision, and integrity of one South Carolina legislator.

The first Wilkins Award for Legislative Leadership was given to S.C. Senator John Drummond. (L) David H. Wilkins (R) l-r: David H. Wilkins, John Drummond, and Richard W. Riley

In 2011, the Wilkins Awards expanded to honor civic leaders.

Minor Mickel Shaw accepting the first Wilkins Award for Civic Leadership.

Held on the first night of the legislative session each year and attended by political, community, and business leaders, the Wilkins Awards Dinner promotes citizenship, public service, and bipartisan governing.

January 8, 2019

At the 14th annual Wilkins Awards Dinner, Senator John Matthews received the legislative award. Charlotte Betty received the civic award.

House Speaker Jay Lucas gave remarks on principled leadership.

Riley Institute Advance Team

The Riley Institute Advance Team is a select group of Furman students interested in politics, government, and public policy. Members of the Advance Team work closely with the Riley Institute staff and the Politics and International Affairs faculty to execute a variety of events and programs and to host guests of the Riley Institute. These students act as ambassadors for Furman and the Riley Institute as they interact with local, national, and international leaders.

The first Advance Team with Senator John Glenn and Secretary Richard Riley in September 2006.

Advance Team members also meet together regularly to present and discuss public policy issues, ranging from internet censorship in China to recent tax reforms to possible solutions for DACA and the Dreamers.

February 27, 2019

The 13th Advance Team with Anthony Ray Hinton, who spent thirty years on death row for a crime he did not commit. The Advance Team organized a community event for Mr. Hinton to speak to more than 1,600 students and community members in McAlister Auditorium.

248 Furman students have been members of the Advance Team.


Advantage Scholars

Advantage Scholars (formerly South Carolina United) is the Riley Institute’s annual four-day residential summer program for incoming Furman Freshmen who are Duke, Hollingsworth, Lay and Townes scholars.

The first Advantage Scholars in conversation with Dr. David Shi.

Aligned with the Furman Advantage’s goal of producing educated and thoughtful leaders who have broad-based knowledge to address real issues, Advantage Scholars brings scholars together to discuss real-world issues, explore campus and the community, and connect socially.

Advantage Scholars having a picnic with children from Camp PMAC in 2019.

This unique opportunity for incoming Freshmen scholarship recipients to broaden and deepen their understanding of community and of complex issues will give them foundational tools for leadership during their Furman career and beyond.

173 Furman students have participated in Advantage Scholars.

Pictured: The 12th class of Advantage Scholars with Greenville Mayor Knox White.


WhatWorksSC Awards & Clearinghouse

Each fall, the Riley Institute presents the Dick and Tunky Riley WhatWorksSC Award for Excellence to an outstanding education initiative in South Carolina.

Secretary Riley presenting the first WhatWorksSC Award for Excellence to South Carolina Teaching Fellows, a program of the Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention, and Advancement.

Following the awards ceremony, the winner and two finalists become members of the WhatWorksSC Clearinghouse. The programs in the clearinghouse have collected a robust set of local data demonstrating that they are improving student outcomes in the state.

October 30, 2018

The 8th annual WhatWorksSC Award was given to Prisma Health's Farm to Belly program.

Montessori Research

Since the establishment of the South Carolina's first public Montessori program at Walker Gamble School in the Clarendon 3 school district in the mid-1990s, the state has been on the cutting edge of public Montessori. Despite the growth and popularity of Montessori education in the state and across the country, there has been a dearth of research on the fidelity of Montessori programs in the public sector and the effect of Montessori on student outcomes.

Janiyah Welton, left, and Sophia Derrick work on lessons in nicole Rousey's 4- and 5-year-old Montessori class at Lakeview Elementary School in Greenwood. (Photo credit: Ariel Gilreath)

To address this gap, the Riley Institute developed and implemented the most comprehensive evaluation of public Montessori to date with support from the Self Family Foundation and the South Carolina Education Oversight Committee.

January 23, 2018

The results of the five-year Montessori study showed that the approach is benefitting students academically and behaviorally.

March 16, 2018

The Riley Institute at Furman University was selected to join a research team that will expand upon the Institute's first study of public Montessori Programs.

Funded by a $600,000 grant from the Brady Education Foundation, the five-year study will involve researchers, sites and participants across the U.S. and will follow a randomized sample of children from age three through kindergarten.


White-Riley-Peterson Afterschool Policy Fellowship

The White-Riley-Peterson Policy Fellowship is a ten-month learning experience offered by the Riley Institute at Furman in partnership with the Charles S. Mott Foundation to leaders across the country. Grounded in deep discussion of actual case studies and led by policy change-makers, the Fellowship equips graduates with a real world understanding of the art, science, possibilities and realities of policy making around afterschool and expanded learning time.

The first WRP Fellowship class.

The Fellowship is named for William S. White, Richard W. Riley and Terry K. Peterson, all of whom have been instrumental in the growth of afterschool and summer learning programs and policies.

Each Fellow develops a state-level policy plan in partnership with their State Afterschool Networks and the National Afterschool Alliance

There are now 122 Fellows in 49 states.

Pictured: The 7th class of WRP Fellows, October 2018.


South Carolina's New Tech Network

In August of 2013, ninth-graders in two rural South Carolina towns became the first to experience the innovative New Tech Network approach in South Carolina, thanks to a federal Investing in Innovation (i3) grant awarded in 2011 to KnowledgeWorks, the Riley Institute at Furman, and the two school districts.

There are now 10 New Tech schools across South Carolina.


OnTrack Greenville Evaluation

OnTrack Greenville is a community initiative to ensure students in Greenville County stay on track toward high school graduation. The initiative focuses its efforts in the high-needs middle schools in the White Horse Community: Berea, Lakeview, Tanglewood and Greenville Early College.

OnTrack is focused on implementing an Early Warning and Response System to utilize real-time data to identify students beginning to disengage from school as indicated by attendance, behavior, and course performance.

Once a student is identified, a coordinated team of educators and community experts develops a customized plan to match the student with the right response interventions and then monitors his or her progress over time.

The Riley Institute provides ongoing data collection and analysis in order to shed light on what is working and inform the decision making process.

Planning and Evaluation Capacity Building Initiative

Many funders increasingly are requiring the organizations in which they invest to provide convincing evidence that programs will drive desired impacts and to collect and synthesize data to demonstrate that promised impacts are achieved. Through the Planning and Evaluation Capacity Building Initiative (PECBI), the Institute works with organizations across the state to improve their capacity to design, implement, and utilize the results of program evaluation so that outcomes can be maximized for all citizens across the state.

The organizations served by PECBI to date include:

Women and Children Succeeding

Palmetto Shared Services Alliance

Urban League of the Upstate

Community Works (pictured February 2019)

United Ministries

Foothills Family Resources

Center for Community Services


#SC2Finland Education Field Study

The Institute, in partnership with Furman's Department of Education and Public Education partners, led a field study of Finland's public schools. Twenty-three South Carolina education stakeholders traveled to Finland to gain insight into critical challenges in public education in South Carolina. The trip was documented by SCETV.

Inspired by what they saw, participants in the trip returned with ideas for South Carolina's education system. For example, Superintendent Danny Merck implemented "Finnish Fridays" in the Pickens County School District, an initiative that allows five breaks throughout the day.




Unless otherwise noted, all photos are provided by the Riley Institute. All rights reserved.