BOSTON (WWLP) -
Following a letter from the Inspector General listing $2000 hotel room stays and $1500 dinners, Westfield State University’s Board of Trustees was called into Boston to answer for their president’s personal spending on the school’s credit card.
“He violated the policies. He has demonstrated a level of leadership at the university on the other hand that can’t be denied. There are improvements there that we all acknowledge and this is the balance …that we’re gonna wrestle with and discuss and deliberate at our October 24 board meeting,” Board of Trustee Chair John Flynn.
Massachusetts Department of Higher Education officials said the answer was dismissive of the violations Westfield State University President Evan Dobelle committed against school policy.
“It was not just a violation of Westfield policy, it’s a violation of state law, and it happened consistently, over and over and over again. Four years,” said Department of Higher Education Commissioner Richard Freeland. “Is it the position of the board that you set that aside, that that’s okay because there’s been progress at the university? Is that the position of the board?”
“No,” said Board Vice Chair Elizabeth Scheibel.
“If you’re asking individually I can tell you that I do not find that acceptable,” said Flynn.
To their knowledge, the Board of Trustees said President Dobelle reimbursed the university for his personal expenses. They believe his purchases were made to improve school programs and fundraising. Commissioner Freeland says that reasoning doesn’t add up.
“Among the state universities in the last two years, Westfield has ranked last in terms of overall private giving. Over the last five years they’ve ranked last of second to last in every one of those five years,” said Freeland.
Dobelle says he has no plans to step down from his job. He said his spending was “strategically planned” and that he was proud of his accomplishments at president.