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Former UH president Dobelle's travel audited in Massachusetts

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 1:00 p.m. HST, Aug 5, 2013

The Massachusetts Inspector General and the Board of Trustees of Westfield State University are auditing the travel spending of former University of Hawaii President Evan S. Dobelle.

Faculty members at Westfield State University are raising questions about Dobelle, who has been president of Westfield State since 2007.

"My concerns are that the president may have been spending money from the foundation and the university inappropriately," Buzz Hoagland, president of the faculty union, told The Republican newspaper in Massachusetts.

Dobelle agreed to a settlement to leave UH in 2004 after the UH Board of Regents questioned his travel expenses and other spending from his expense account at the UH Foundation.

Dobelle told WWLP 22News: "The expenditures I make are on students and on faculty. You can see anything I have; and what you have is, I spent money to globalize the institution — which is our #1 strategic plan."

He said he welcomed the state Inspector General's looking into the accusations over the misuse of funds at the university. Dobelle said he's confident the results will show that he has done nothing wrong.

Boston’s WCVB’s Team 5 Investigates found Dobelle took the most trips and spent the most money out of all the leaders of public universities in Massachusetts. According to state records obtained by WCVB, Dobelle took at least 27 trips in 2011 and spent $28,322.20.

The Westfield State University Board of Trustees voted Thursday night to authorize the release of all documents related to its internal audit to the state inspector general.

Dobelle described the board's audit as a routine matter on travel policies that were implemented earlier that year.

"I have thousands of students who have never been to New York, have now been to Europe and Asia studying. I have had faculty never had an opportunity to travel to go to conferences that they've never been able to go. I've gone to very few, very few trips. My interest is inspiring," Dobelle told WGGB ABC40 News on Thursday night.

"It all costs money, but we raise the money, we take people to dinner who give us tens of thousands of dollars. That's what we do here," said Dobelle.

Board of Trustees Chairman John Flynn also said he welcomed the involvement of the Office of the Inspector General.

"There is an opportunity for me and the board to have our work validated. I know that has been questioned what has been done to date," said Flynn.

The October 2012 audit was done by an outside firm and will be made public once it is finalized several weeks from now, Dobelle and Flynn said.

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