New political collection at USC brings former president to town

COLUMBIA, SC - The University of South Carolina has anew exhibit that's specifically important to education in the state, but it also hits close to home for former president Bill Clinton.

The university unveiled a new political collection honoring Richard Riley; SC's former governor who helped make change to the education system.

Bill Clinton was in Columbia on Monday to view the new exhibit.

"The papers of any member of congress are important and cover a lot of subjects and this collection does too but it definitely has a singular topic of education policy and development in the United States," explained Dorothy Walker, the director of USC'S political collections.

The exhibit features memorabilia and artifacts highlighting's Riley's legacy. In each one of the cases there are articles, flyers and handwritten speeches showing Riley's impact on education and the state.

One of Riley's major changes was increasing funding for K-12 education and increasing the dollar amount spent per student.

"We had to do a few things we had to get the base load of the money to public education so we could make all these innovations and changes possible," said Riley.

His impact in South Carolina made his appointment to Secretary of Education under Bill Clinton's presidency an easy choice.

"It was because I believed the future of our country depended on our ability to educate our youth. and I know that he believed that ability is evenly distributed but opportunity was not and that the first step to closing that gap was believing it could be," explained Bill Clinton.

Under Riley's term as Secretary of Education graduation rates in the country rose and more students were enrolled in the afterschool programs than ever before.

But what Riley will be remembered for the most can't be displayed in these cases.
Clinton told the crowd at USC's Alumni Center that Riley was good at his job because he never forgot to be a person.

"People could appreciate everything special about him and then people could disagree with him and say I think you're wrong, but he lived and served in a time when he never stopped being a person," elaborated Clinton.

The exhibit is open to the public until December. It will then be placed in the university's permanent collection.

Riley served 2 terms as governor of South Carolina. After leaving politics, Riley continued his fight for education. His law firm represented 37 of the poorest school districts in the Abbeville Lawsuit to demand funding for those schools.

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