Betty Castor served as President of the University of South Florida (USF) in Tampa, Florida from 1994 until 1999.
Previously, Castor was the Florida Commissioner of Education and the first woman elected to the Florida Cabinet. She served three terms in the Florida Senate.
Castor also served as President and CEO of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, and most recently as the Executive Director of the Patel Center for Global Solutions at USF. She is a member of the Tampa Bay Committee on Foreign Relations and the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay. In 2010 Castor received the Distinguished Woman in International Commerce Award from the World Trade Center of Tampa Bay.
Castor began her educational career as a secondary school teacher in Uganda and continues her support of the Teachers for East Africa Alumni Foundation. She received a bachelor’s degree from Rowan University and a master’s degree from the University of Miami.
Castor was appointed by President Barack Obama in September 2011 to the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, which oversees the worldwide Fulbright Program. She was reappointed in 2014. Castor served as Vice Chair of the Board in 2014. On November 13, 2014 the Board elected her as Chair to begin a one-year term on January 1, 2015.
In the 2002 Senate race, Castor's Republican opponent Mel Martinez's ads against Castor, accused her of harboring an Islamic terrorist cell at the University of South Florida because she refused to fire tenured professor Sami Al-Arian, who was awaiting trial on charges he helped raise money for Palestinian Islamic Jihad while at USF. Castor put him on paid leave after unsuccessfully requesting that the FBI give her enough proof of illegal activity to fire him. Al-Arian was indicted on charges of funding terrorism after Castor left the university.
Communist Party support
- It would be helpful for each district to single out House seats that can be swung from Republican to Democrat to develop our list of key races, which includes progressive Frank Barbaro in New York and Cynthia McKinney in Georgia.
- A number of exciting candidates are emerging in the Senate, in the first place Barak Obama in Illinois, and also several progressive women including Betty Castor seeking to retain retiring Bob Graham's seat as Democrat; Nancy Farmer seeking to defeat Kit Bond in Missouri; Inez Tenenbaum seeking to retain retiring Fritz Hollings seat as Democrat.