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June 15 , 2007
DH 07 JH

Donald S. Castro, 1941-2007: Former Vice President of Academic Affairs Championed Research, International Studies

Carson, CA Donald S. Castro, special assistant to Cal State Fullerton President Milton A. Gordon, and former vice president for Academic Affairs at California State University, Dominguez Hills (1999-2003), died Monday while in Mexico. He was 66.

The Claremont resident was on his way to Queretaro for the annual conference of the United States-Mexico Training, Internships, Exchange and Scholarships (TIES) program when he suffered a heart attack while going through customs at Mexico City’s Benito Juárez International Airport. Paramedics were unable to revive him.

Described by many as a passionate and compassionate man who championed human rights and equal opportunities for the disadvantaged, Castro’s death came as a shock to his family, colleagues and friends.

“Throughout his career, he had a deep respect for the purposes of the CSU, and was especially committed to expanding students’ and faculty opportunities for international education,” recalls Gary Levine, professor of interdisciplinary studies. “Don was a compassionate man with a pervasive sense of humor who cared deeply about doing the right thing in both his personal and professional life.”

Loretta Adikhai, director, Event Scheduling and Planning, was Castro’s special assistant. She remembers that “Don was a kind and gentle man. He taught during the time he was here, and his students would come into the office. Despite his busy schedule, he always had time to talk to them. I would run into Don periodically after he left CSUDH and he would always give me a big teddy bear hug. He truly loved his family and my thoughts are with them during this time of sorrow.”

A Fulbright scholar and holder of a doctorate in history from UCLA, Castro first joined the California State University system in 1993 as dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Cal State Fullerton. He held a variety of administrative and academic positions within the CSU, including interim associate vice president for graduate studies, research and international programs at Cal State Northridge; university dean of instruction, dean of undergraduate studies, chair and professor of history at Cal Poly Pomona; and associate director of the Office of International Programs for the CSU.

Castro worked to develop Cal State Dominguez Hills’ faculty and resources. Sandra Parham, dean, Leo F. Cain Library, recalls his approach to supporting her department.

“As far as the library was concerned, he was pro-book, a real historian and researcher,” she says. “He always was concerned about our book budget and when we were getting ready to initiate the electronic catalog, he told us to get the best system available.”

“He was really into allowing faculty to pursue their research so that they could do a better job of teaching their students,” says Adikhai. “And he was very interested in connecting our campus with international universities.”

Castro served for many years as a member of the board of governors and executive board of the Pacific Coast Council on Latin American Studies and was founding president of the CSU’s Council on Latin American Studies. He was scheduled to be in Montreal in the fall to present a paper at the Latin American Studies Association International Congress. In December, he was appointed by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities to serve as team leader of the organization’s ongoing Study of Hispanic Student Success. Castro was also awarded a Civil Rights Award last year from the California Association of Human Relations Organization for his many contributions to human rights.

Services are set for 10 a.m. Friday, June 22, at Temple Beth Israel, 3033 N. Towne Ave. in Pomona. For more information, click here.

Dominguez Hills - University Communications & Public Affairs
Contact: Brenda Knepper
1000 E. Victoria Street

Carson, CA 90747
(310) 243-2001















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(310) 243-2740


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Last updated June 15, 2007, 4:05 p.m.
by Joanie Harmon-Whetmore