IG Report: Dobelle ‘Violated the Public’s Trust’
WESTFIELD — A long-awaited report from the state inspector general’s office claims that former Westfield State University President Evan Dobelle improperly used hundreds of thousands of dollars from school accounts to pay for personal expenses, including a number of trips, and then covered these actions by filing false reports.
“Dobelle knowingly disregarded university policies, misled the WSU Board of Trustees, abused his authority, and exploited public funds for personal benefit, Inspector General Glenn Cunha wrote in his scathing, 60-page report, released Thursday. “Dobelle’s self-characterization as a ‘visionary’ does not absolve him from the obligation to follow the rules. … Dobelle violated the public trust.”
The report detailed dozens of incidents where Dobelle charged personal expenses to university credit cards, including more than $63,000 for 17 trips to San Francisco where, he told school officials, he was meeting potential donors and tech-sector business executives. However, the IG’s report found he was mostly attending social events. Dobelle resigned from the university in November 2013 amid a firestorm of criticism concerning his lavish spending.
On Friday, the Boston Globe reported that Cunha’s report raises the prospect that Dobelle could face criminal investigation. The paper quotes a spokesperson for Attorney General Martha Coakley saying “this report raises serious concerns and allegations about the use of Westfield State resources by its former president. We have been conducting our own investigation into this matter and anticipate additional action soon.”
In a prepared statement, WSU Interim President Elizabeth Hall Preston said, “while this has been a difficult period for all of us, the faculty and staff at the university have persevered and focused on the work of providing our students with an outstanding education. We approach the start of our new academic year with a sense of excitement and new momentum.”