Clemson University Honors Former Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. with 2018 Ethics in Action Award

Clemson University’s Rutland Institute of Ethics honored former Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. with the 2018 Ethics in Action Award Feb. 10. Attendees joined friends and family in celebrating Mr. Riley with an evening at the Francis Marion Hotel in Charleston, South Carolina, including a cocktail hour followed by dinner and the award presentation.

Speakers included Kelly Durham, Rutland Institute of Ethics advisory board chair; John Griffin, Clemson University’s associate provost and dean of Undergraduate Studies; Brian Hicks, co-author of The Mayor: Joe Riley and the Rise of Charleston and Post and Courier metro columnist; Capers Barr, Mr. Riley’s close friend; Robert Jones, Clemson’s executive vice president for Academic Affairs and provost; and Joseph P. Riley Jr., the award honoree.

“I most humbly and gratefully accept the award, and Robert Rutland, I thank you for creating it,” Riley said. “In leadership, it’s got to be bumpy and it’s got to be controversial because you are working to lead. The status quo isn’t controversial. New and creative — sometimes aggressive — is controversial as it is change. You just don’t quit, you never relent. I feel that is the ultimate responsibility when you are in public life and in a leadership position, that your work and actions are to make it as good as it possibly can be.

“When I came home at night I knew that, in my job, I needed to make sure that what I did and what I sought to do, the positions I took, that they, my family, would find it honorable. I tried to be as honest and dutiful as I could because I had to and wanted to be able to look them in the eye. They knew and felt that I accepted the responsibility to make sure, as best as I could, that the course of action was right.”

Riley and John Wareham, assistant director of the Rutland Institute for Ethics, have been discussing ways that Clemson University could help sustain Riley’s legacy of civic leadership and to assist in its expansion throughout the state.

Event sponsors included The Citadel’s School of Humanities and Social Sciences, The Post and Courier, Bank of America, Charleston Water System, Clemson Forever, College of Charleston’s The Riley Center for Livable Communities, NAI Charleston, ScanSource, Avison Young, Barr, Unger and McIntosh, LLC, Exclusive Properties, Dixon Hughes Goodman, Hill Construction, South State Bank, Bennett Hospitality, Mr. and Mrs. Kelly Durham, Mr. and Mrs. Samuel D. Prince, Mrs. Susan Reed, Dr. and Mrs. Hal Shaw, Mr. and Mrs. Joe Turner. All proceeds from the event benefit the Rutland Institute for Ethics through the Clemson University Foundation

The James F. Barker Ethics in Action Award is named for Clemson University’s 14th president and is bestowed upon an exceptional individual whose actions exemplify integrity. Riley is considered one of the most visionary and highly-effective governmental leaders in America. He served 10 consecutive terms as mayor of Charleston from 1975 to 2016 and led a city government with an impressive record of innovation in public safety, housing, arts and culture, children’s issues and economic revitalization and development.

“By the force of his character and his intellect, Joe Riley formed and forged the city of Charleston into a work of civic art, a grand mosaic of tangible and intangible parts,” Capers Barr, Riley’s friend, said. “Joe is known for the manner and force of his character and personality, his never endingly warm and positive attitude, his calm and confident leadership in times of crisis, his inclusive style of governance, his dedication to the people he served his commitment to racial equality — Joe Riley set the moral tone of the community.”

“I followed the mayor around regularly and got to see first-hand how many lives he has touched — whether we were at a restaurant here in town or at an airport out of state, there was always somebody coming up to him — some memory, some story, some way he had touched their lives” Brian Hicks, co-author of The Mayor: Joe Riley and the Rise of Charleston and Post and Courier metro columnist, said. “His legacy is what he did for the people of Charleston. He managed to do the right thing every day. He opened this city up and made it inclusive.”


About Rutland Institute for Ethics

Named for Robert J. Rutland, the Rutland Institute for Ethics at Clemson University was created to encourage discussion on campus, in businesses and in the community about how ethical decision-making can be the basis of both personal and professional success. For more information about the Rutland Institute, its programs and impacts, visit

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