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Former SC Gov. Beasley to join faculty of USC Joseph F. Rice School of Law

David Beasley speaks at podium

Former South Carolina Gov. David Beasley will join the faculty of the University of South Carolina Joseph F. Rice School of Law on March 1.

As governor from 1995 to 1999, Beasley is credited with reforming state government and revitalizing the state’s struggling economy. He then undertook two decades of humanitarian and peacemaking work all over the world. 

Nominated by American presidents of both parties, he became executive director of the U.N. World Food Programme, the world’s largest humanitarian organization, feeding hundreds of millions of starving people in more than 80 countries.  Beasley served in that role from 2017 to 2023, and in 2020, he received the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the organization for its efforts to combat hunger and conflict around the world and make peace.

While serving as governor, Beasley also advocated for the removal of the Confederate flag from the State House dome. His efforts earned him the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award in 2003. The flag was finally removed from the State House grounds in 2015 after nine people were killed in a mass shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston.

“Little did I know the challenges and adventures I was being prepared for in law school. But the way the University of South Carolina Law School taught me to think and act with integrity was very important to it all,” Beasley said. “To now have a chance to give back to a new generation of future leaders is one of the great opportunities of my life.”

Beasley will receive a full-time appointment in USC’s Rice School of Law as Distinguished Professor of Practice and Public Service in the Department of Legal Studies.

“The Rice School of Law is most grateful that Gov. Beasley will be joining our faculty,” said Dean William Hubbard. “The mission of the law school is to educate lawyer leaders for their communities, our state and nation. Gov. Beasley’s example of exemplary leadership and public service will inspire our students, broaden their perspectives and enhance their international understanding.”

"To now have a chance to give back to a new generation of future leaders is one of the great opportunities of my life.”

Former Gov. David Beasley

In addition to teaching, Beasley will give guest lectures at the law school, the Honors College and the College of Arts and Sciences, where he will actively engage with students across a range of disciplines. He also will share his experiences with student organizations, participate in special events and seek opportunities to host government leaders and policymakers on campus.

“The College of Arts and Sciences is thrilled to partner with the Rice School of Law in bringing Gov. Beasley back to our campus,” said Dean Joel Samuels. “Our undergraduate students will have a unique opportunity to learn from one of the most dynamic leaders this state has ever produced while also interacting with a global statesman whose experiences can show our students that as USC graduates, their paths have no boundaries."

A native of Lamar, South Carolina, Beasley earned a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from USC in 1979 and graduated from the university’s School of Law in 1983. He is the recipient of the Algernon Sydney Sullivan award from the USC alumni association in 2023 and the DuRant Award given by the S.C. Bar Foundation in 2020.

His lifetime of public service began while he was still an undergraduate when he was elected to serve in the S.C. House of Representatives at the age of 21. He earned his law degree while serving in the state Legislature, where he represented constituents for more than 14 years before being elected governor in 1994.

“The rule of law is the cornerstone of human freedom and progress,” Beasley said.  “I’m thrilled to be engaged in making better lawyers, better law and freer societies wherever our students go.”

Beasley also co-founded the Center for Global Strategies in 2005 with fellow USC law school alumnus Henry L. Deneen, who had been chief legal counsel for Beasley’s administration. The center’s mission is to integrate developing communities into the global economy via investment, market solutions and a message of peace.

“We are taught that ‘To whom much has been given, much will be required,’” Beasley said. “I’m happy and proud to give back to the University of South Carolina and the state that has been so generous and nurturing to me."