WESTFIELD, Mass. >> Suspended Westfield State University president Evan Dobelle has retired.
Dobelle, a former University of Hawaii president, informed the Massachusetts university’s board of trustees of his retirement, effective immediately, in a letter today. He had been at odds with trustees over criticism that he charged personal expenses on university credit cards and spent lavishly on foreign travel.
The board voted to suspend him with pay last month. Dobelle responded by filing a federal lawsuit against trustees and the state’s higher education commissioner.
In the letter, released by a public relations firm hired by Dobelle, he said his decision to retire was the result of what he called the university’s failure to abide by the terms of his contract.
He expressed gratitude to faculty, students and others for their support and friendship during his six years as president.
Dobelle’s troubles at Westfield are similar to his controversial tenure at UH from 2001 to 2004. UH regents unanimously voted to fire him in 2004 amid charges of lavish spending, dishonesty and wasting university resources.
Dobelle said he was a victim of a vendetta by then-Gov. Linda Lingle, and he fought back with lawyers. He threatened to sue UH for wrongful termination. The regents reached a settlement and Dobelle resigned.