Former Charleston Mayor Riley to Address MUSC Graduates

Contact: Heather Woolwine

May 12, 2016

CHARLESTON, SC – Approximately 625 graduates will receive degrees from the Medical University of South Carolina’s six colleges during commencement exercises scheduled for 9 a.m. Friday, May 20, at the Horseshoe on the MUSC campus.

Former 10-term Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. will deliver the commencement address to the graduates.

Riley retired from public office Jan. 11 after serving 40 years as mayor, the city’s longest-serving top executive and one of the longest such tenures in the nation. He is largely credited with revitalizing the city’s urban district through such major projects as Charleston Place, the South Carolina Aquarium and Waterfront Park. He also received much praise for his leadership following the city’s devastation from Hurricane Hugo in 1989 and the racially motivated slayings of nine black parishioners at Emanuel AME Church on June 17, 2015.

He remains actively involved in plans for an African-American museum on Charleston Harbor, the port of entry for an estimated 40 percent of captive Africans during the slave trade. 

Honors he has received during his tenure as mayor include:

  • President of the National Association of Democratic Mayors.
  • Municipal Leader of the Year by American City & County.
  • Thomas Jefferson Award from the American Institute of Architects for Public Architecture.
  • One of the 25 most dynamic mayors in America, Newsweek magazine.
  • Recipient of The National Medal of Arts.

In the event of inclement weather, commencement exercises will move to McAlister Field House on the campus of The Citadel, beginning at 11 a.m.

MUSC also will confer honorary Doctor of Humane Letter degrees on:

  • Pamela Lackey, president of AT&T South Carolina.
  • Susan Pearlstine, former owner and director of Pearlstine Distributors Inc. and member of the MUSC Foundation board of directors who established the Susan Pearlstine Sarcoidosis Center of Excellence at MUSC.
  • State Rep. W. Brian White, a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives since 2001 and chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.
  • State Rep. Kenneth A. “Kenny” Bingham, a member of the House of Representatives since 2001 and chairman of the House Ethics Committee.

This academic year – August 2015 through May 2016 – MUSC has graduated approximately 982 health care professionals, more graduates than in any previous academic year.

Breakdown of graduates by college and demographics (totals include August and December graduates in addition to May).

About MUSC

Founded in 1824 in Charleston, The Medical University of South Carolina is the oldest medical school in the South. Today, MUSC continues the tradition of excellence in education, research, and patient care. MUSC educates and trains more than 3,000 students and 700 residents in six colleges (Dental Medicine, Graduate Studies, Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing, and Pharmacy), and has nearly 14,000 employees, including approximately 1,500 faculty members. As the largest non-federal employer in Charleston, the university and its affiliates have collective annual budgets in excess of $2.4 billion, with an annual economic impact of more than $3.8 billion and annual research funding in excess of $250 million. MUSC operates a 700-bed medical center, which includes a nationally recognized Children's Hospital, the Ashley River Tower (cardiovascular, digestive disease, and surgical oncology), Hollings Cancer Center (a National Cancer Institute-designated center), Level I Trauma Center, Institute of Psychiatry, and the state’s only transplant center. In 2017, for the third consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report named MUSC Health the number one hospital in South Carolina. For more information on academic programs or clinical services, visit For more information on hospital patient services, visit