Former USF president Betty Castor to head worldwide Fulbright Scholarship program

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Former University of South Florida President Betty Castor will begin her post as chair of the J. William Fulbright Scholarship board on January 1. Castor was elected to the head of the scholarship program in November.

Castor served as president of USF for five years from 1994 to 1999 and most recently as the executive director of the Patel Center for Global Solutions at the school. Previously, Castor was the Florida commissioner of education and was 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. 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.

“It’s kind of a combination of a lot of my interests in education and global affairs,” Castor told the Tampa Tribune. “It’s interesting and exciting and I’m very, very pleased.”

Fulbright Scholarships are awarded through the U.S. Department of State. Students have been receiving grants through the program to teach, study and conduct research in countries all over the world since 1946. The Fulbright Program has awarded scholarships to more than 360,000 academics from more than 180 countries. The idea behind the program is to find solutions to shared international concerns.

Castor was appointed to the Fulbright board by President Barack Obama in September 2011. The board oversees the worldwide Fulbright Program. Castor was reappointed in 2014 and currently serves as the vice chair. Terms for the board last one year.

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Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.