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Man offers $100,000 scholarship if Dobelle drops lawsuit

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This 2002 file photo shows former University of Hawaii President Evan Dobelle at kickoff ceremony for Hawaii Skills Community

WESTFIELD, Mass. >> A Westfield State University alumnus has offered to create a $100,000 student scholarship fund if ex-president Evan Dobelle drops his lawsuits against the school.

John Walsh, owner of skin care company Elizabeth Grady Co., says Dobelle, a former University of Hawaii system president, will accept the offer “if he has the best interests of students at heart.”

Walsh said at Thursday’s trustees meeting that he wanted to start a scholarship fund last year, but lost confidence in Dobelle’s leadership amid state investigations into his spending on travel, hotels, restaurants, limousines and other items. Dobelle, who resigned in November, defended the spending as necessary to promote the school.

Dobelle sued, saying he was forced out.

Walsh says legal fees are “bleeding the school.”

Dobelle’s lawyer tells The Republican newspaper that Walsh’s offer is a “silly PR stunt.”

Dobelle left UH after serving as president 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 Hawaii Republican Gov. Linda Lingle, and he fought back with lawyers, threatening to sue UH for wrongful termination. The regents reached a settlement and Dobelle resigned.

In a decision filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court, a federal magistrate allowed Dobelle’s suit against three Westfield State trustees and the state’s Higher Education commissioner to move forward, but released a law firm and a group of auditors from the lawsuit.

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