TAMPA — Former University of South Florida president Betty Castor Tuesday left USF for a third time, this time stepping down as executive director of the Dr. Kiran C. Patel Center for Global Solutions.
Castor, 68, became the center's first director in January 2007.
In announcing her departure, USF said Castor plans to be an advocate on public education policy in Florida.
She also is expected to work on behalf of the Teachers for East Africa Alumni Foundation, which raises money for schools in Uganda, where she had her first teaching job in 1963.
In a statement released through USF, Castor said her professional life had come "full circle" since her early days as a teacher and had "been very much intertwined with USF over four decades."
But her career goes far beyond education. In 1972 she became the first woman elected to the Hillsborough County Commission. She moved on to be elected to the Florida Senate in 1976, 1982 and 1984 and as Florida's Commissioner of Education in 1986 and 1990. In that job, she was the first woman ever elected to the Florida Cabinet.
At USF, Castor served as director of government and community relations in the 1980s, then as the university's president from 1994 to 1999.
The Patel Center was launched in 2005 with a record gift worth $34.5 million from Drs. Kiran and Pallavi Patel. The center aims to improve living conditions in poor countries through research into drinking water and sanitation, urbanization and sustainable economic development.
As the center's first director, Castor forged partnerships with universities in Ghana and the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education in the Netherlands. She also oversaw planning for the center's new four-story headquarters, which is being designed to conserve energy and resources. Construction began this spring.
Castor's replacement has not been named.
Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report.