About the Riley Center

Mission Statement

The Joseph P. Riley Jr. Center for Livable Communities is an interdisciplinary initiative of the College of Charleston whose mission is to leverage the intellectual resources of the College to support the economic and cultural vibrancy of the City of Charleston and other communities throughout South Carolina, the United States, and around the world. 

Vision Statement

With access to the resources of the College of Charleston’s School of Humanities and Social Sciences, the Riley Center seeks to be a leader in livable community research, education and practice.

The Riley Center defines “livable communities” as those which are economically and culturally vibrant, with equitable access for all residents to education, jobs, healthcare, housing, and parks and recreation as well as diverse opportunities in arts and culture.


The Riley Center for Livable Communities is guided by the values of our namesake Mayor Riley.  Based on the input of our Advisory Board, these values have been identified and are incorporated into our planning and goal setting, project development, and in the work we do.  

There is no single value or trait that embodies Joe Riley.  Rather, it is the combination of vision, courage, inclusiveness, perseverance, and the tenacity to never be outworked that enabled his effective and impactful leadership. 

Mayor Riley placed an enormous amount of effort into developing attractive housing and engaging public spaces.  He insisted that new or refurbished housing must be beautiful.  Ensuring public access for all to beauty is a central theme of the Mayor’s leadership and reflects his authentic caring for every citizen.  His leadership approach was inclusive and courageous, and consistently building beautiful parks and buildings reflects the Mayor’s commitment to excellence.

One of Mayor Riley’s pivotal moments was the redevelopment of the market area, highlighted by the building of the hotel now known as the Belmond Charleston Place.  It opened in 1986 and stimulated development of lower King Street and the market area.  This milestone reflected Mayor Riley’s vision and perseverance, as there were many challenges to build this development and it faced substantial skepticism locally, regionally, and nationally.  It has since come to be seen as a watershed development igniting the long-term redevelopment of the Charleston peninsula. 

Core Competencies

The Riley Center achieves its mission by connecting community needs with faculty, staff and student expertise.  The Center has five core competencies under which is offers a variety of services.  These five areas are:

1)    Nonprofit and Local Government support
2)    Public Health and Sustainability
3)    Public Safety
4)    Education, Arts and Culture
5)    Urban Design, Planning and Housing

To learn more about research projects and services performed by The Riley Center, you can click on a particular area or use the links provided in the navigation menu.

Professional Services

The Riley Center offers a variety of professional services tailored to fit the needs of the client.  Services include:

  • Strategic planning, program evaluation and policy analysis
  • Leadership training and coaching
  • Meeting and focus group facilitation
  • Board training and team development
  • Grant writing and research support
  • Surveys, data collection and data analysis
  • Faculty research support