Joseph P. Riley, Jr.

"We must act creatively, energetically and affirmatively to make sure that urban design ensures diversity and inclusivity."

Joseph P. Riley, Jr.

The Honorable Joseph P. Riley, Jr., is ULI’s first distinguished visiting fellow.

He offers expertise on several of the Institute’s areas of focus, including affordable and workforce housing, sustainable development, improving overall community livability, and public sector leadership in land use decision-making.

Riley’s responsibilities at ULI will include participating in several of the Institute’s major convenings, informing ULI’s research on various aspects of community building, and making contributions to Urban Land, ULI’s flagship publication. His term at ULI, which began March 1, will last one year.


The Honorable Joseph P. Riley, Jr., the longest-serving mayor of a major U.S. city, was the first recipient of the ULI J.C. Nichols Prize for Visionaries in Urban Development, which recognizes a person whose career demonstrates a commitment to the highest standards of community building. Riley was awarded the prize in 2000 to honor his significant contribution to Charleston’s renaissance and his national leadership on urban design and community revitalization issues.

In the decades following Riley’s election as Charleston’s mayor in 1975, the city achieved a substantial decrease in crime, revitalized its historic downtown district, created a highly successful waterfront park, increased its supply of affordable housing, and experienced dramatic growth in its Spoleto Festival U.S.A., a world-class arts festival held each spring. Each of these achievements was made possible through the use of innovative public-private partnerships cultivated by the mayor.

A former president of the U.S Conference of Mayors, Riley is nationally renowned as an expert on urban design and livability issues. He was a founder of the Mayor’s Institute on City Design and has provided visionary advice and counsel on urban design and development issues to hundreds of mayors across the United States.

Since stepping down as mayor on January 8, 2016, Riley has returned to his alma mater, The Citadel. There he is the first occupant of the newly created Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Chair of American Government and Public Policy in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. From this, his primary, post-mayoral position, Riley will be teaching, completing an oral history, writing his memoirs, providing support to organizations involved with urban planning and design, and assisting with the completion of the International African American Museum to be built in Charleston.