Betty Castor, Political Analyst (D)
Betty Castor has had a long and distinguished career as a public servant and educator, most notably as the President of the University of South Florida, Commissioner of Education and President and CEO of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.
Castor’s civic and governmental career began in Hillsborough County where she was the first woman ever elected to the Hillsborough County Commission in 1972. Following her strong interest in governmental reform, she ran successfully for the Florida Senate in 1976, becoming the fourth female elected to that chamber where she served three terms.
In 1986 following a successful statewide campaign, Castor became the Commissioner of Education and the first woman elected to the Florida Cabinet. During her tenure she emphasized accountability and helped to establish the first preschool early childhood programs.
Castor was appointed by the Board of Regents as President of the University of South Florida in 1993. She continued her advocacy for adequate funding for higher education and expansion of academic degree programs at the university. She was later recruited by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards to serve as President of the successful effort to encourage teachers throughout America to pursue high and rigorous certification standards. She returned to USF in 2006 to serve as Executive Director of the Patel Center for Global Solutions, an endowed center. The Center was launched by USF with a bold vision to address the challenges of globalization in developing countries.
Castor has received numerous awards for leadership in education and public affairs including the 2008 Florida Education Association Lifetime Educator Award. In 2009, she received the League of Women Voters Lifetime Achievement honor and was the recipient of the Audubon of Florida Women in Conservation Award. Castor was inducted into the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame in 1996.
She currently serves as a board member of the Northstar Bank of Tampa, the Hillsborough County Education Foundation, the Collins Center for Public Policy and the Tampa Bay Area Committee on Foreign Relations. Castor received her BA degree from Rowan University, Glassboro, New Jersey and her Master’s Degree from the University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida. She is married to Samuel P. Bell III, a former legislator and partner in the law firm of Pennington, Moore, Dunbar and Bell.