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Mass. freezes some Westfield St. funding in probe of former UH president's spending

By Associated Press

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 06:21 p.m. HST, Oct 04, 2013


WESTFIELD, Mass.>> State Higher Education Commissioner Richard Freeland froze $197,000 in funding for Westfield State University late Friday after its president, former University of Hawaii president Evan Dobelle, missed a deadline to explain travel spending criticized by its outside auditor and the state inspector general.

Freeland also announced he's recommending withholding another $2 million for a planned science center.

Freeland had set a Thursday deadline for President Dobelle to submit his report. Dobelle asked for an extension until Monday, which was denied.

Freeland spokeswoman Katy Abel said the commissioner urges Dobelle "to provide these answers to the public without further delay." She said Freeland hopes to work with Westfield trustees to resolve concerns about the university's financial management and restore the funds.

On Friday night, Dobelle's spokesman George Regan called Freeland's move "bizarre" and a revengeful attempt to "blackmail" the trustees instead of waiting two days for "a thoughtful, comprehensive response."

Westfield State's auditors reported in August that Dobelle and other top university officials violated travel and credit card policies. There was no allegation of fraud, but auditors said expense record-keeping was poor.

Dobelle, who has led Westfield State for six years, has said the spending was "strategically planned" and resulted in a significant return on investment for the university. He said any improper personal expenses were unintentional and were repaid and use of credit cards followed past practices.

At a state Board of Higher Education meeting last month, Freeland told Westfield State trustees thatDobelle's travel spending showed "a pattern of seemingly excessive and indulgent personal and professional expenses."

The Springfield Republican reported that the board was expected to hold a special meeting as soon as next week.

Dobelle served as UH president from 2001 to 2004, when the UH Board of Regents voted to fire him and then allowed him resign over allegations of improper spending from his UH Foundation protocol fund.







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Anonymous wrote:
I'm no fan of Dobelle but withholding $2 million for a state building after the money had been appropriated seems to be punishing the wrong people. It's kinda like what our legislature did to UH when they were mad at Greenwood.
on October 4,2013 | 06:56PM
RKC808 wrote:
I would say the next University who hires him deserves everything they get. Or rather everything they will lose.
on October 4,2013 | 07:03PM
Ewasohappy wrote:
I doubt he will be fired.
on October 5,2013 | 08:18AM
kailua000 wrote:
had UH fired him instead of putting their tails between their legs and allowing him to resign, this small college would not have been shafted so badly. Im sure when they called for references UH said very nice things so they would not get sued. Dobelle is trying to sue this college now with his big time lawyer so UH just ran from the problem and passed it on to another school to deal with. Did UH give Dobelle a buyout? just curious, they do everyone else.
on October 5,2013 | 03:33AM
steveoctober wrote:
Nonsense. Even a 10 year old kid with an internet connection would've been able to dig up a bunch of dirt on this guy. They obviously weren't bothered to do that... This isn't exactly the 1970s anymore.
on October 5,2013 | 05:31AM
Ewasohappy wrote:
Was wondering the same. How come Westfield did not thoroughly check him out.
on October 5,2013 | 08:21AM
allie wrote:
home come UH didn't?
on October 5,2013 | 04:47PM
cojef wrote:
Not the last of the "big time spenders". Can't blame him, once the taste of the high life is experienced it hard to give up, especially if one is egotistical as well as narcistic. Just boil down to an educated con with sheepskins to prove it. Credentials are not sole criteria to judge an individual, but moral character is.
on October 5,2013 | 07:40AM
buttery wrote:
Dobelle or dumbbell---same thing. didn't learn anything from his UH missteps.
on October 5,2013 | 08:55AM
GONEGOLFIN wrote:
Are you kidding me!? Didnt learn anything!? He not only has learned how to do it, but get off the hook and hoodwink the Universities into money just to get rid of him. He knows exactly what he is doing, and doing it very well. Now if only his job could entail acutally doing his real job he is in the position to do.
on October 5,2013 | 12:16PM
localguy wrote:
Dobelle is going down. The fool thinks no one realizes the thief he is. Finally his lies and cheating have caught up with him. Be afraid of prison Evan, be very afraid. You will have friends you don't want, learn all sorts of new night time skills and talents, be very much in demand. Don't go away mad, just go away.
on October 5,2013 | 11:55AM
allie wrote:
hope so..he has pulled this game with a lot of people. Lot of were made to look like fools out here..including prominent pols and biz. types
on October 5,2013 | 04:47PM
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