University of South Florida President Resigns

Article excerpt

TAMPA -- Betty Castor, who went from the Florida Cabinet to become the first female president of the University of South Florida, the state's second-largest university, resigned yesterday.

Castor, 58, made the unexpected announcement at a news conference at the school's main campus in Tampa. She said she was leaving to head the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, a position she will begin Oct. 1.

"I did not reach this decision easily or lightly," she said. "On one level, I have accepted a challenging new position in an area that has always been close to my heart. On the other hand, it means leaving a university that I love, people I respect and admire, and a community where I have deep roots and family ties."

Castor was named the first female president of USF in December 1993 amid extensive opposition. About 200 faculty members signed a petition criticizing her as a career politician without the academic background to run a university.

The sentiment changed as she presided over the school during a time of tremendous growth. The school today has 35,000 students and 1,500 faculty members, making it second only to the University of Florida.

Under her tenure, USF and its 10 colleges have added half a dozen doctoral programs and increased sponsored research funding from $92 million to more than $135 million in the past four years. The USF Foundation endowment has more than tripled from $65 million to $200 million.

The university also started a football program, which is seeking acceptance as a Division I-A Conference USA sport.

"Her energy and commitment to the university and the community, and her leadership on all aspects of higher education in the state of Florida, served not only her own institution but the rest of us as well," said University of Florida President John Lombardi. …

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