Report sheds light on university president's spending - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Report sheds light on university president's spending

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The Massachusetts State Inspector General investigated Westfield State University President Evan Dobelle.

A report found he billed the Westfield State Foundation for personal payments. Personal use of school credit cards is against the school's policy.

On Thursday night, the school's board of trustees held a special meeting to review the report.

Dobelle received full support from the board after the review found he didn't do anything illegal when it came to spending the school's money.

Dobelle has been under fire for his use of tens of thousands of dollars from the Westfield State College Foundation.

"We've had allegations of clear policy violations, and we just can't ignore those," said Jack Flynn, chief administrative officer.

The school's board of trustees released a review of Dobelle's spending done by the outside group O'Connor and Drew and presented it at Thursday night's meeting.

In it, the report states Dobelle mixed personal and business spending.

While he did spend thousands improving the campus with a new dorm and updates to classrooms, he also spent thousands on trips, dinners, and limousine rides along with:

■ $12,000 in charges to an "Oriental Hotel"

■ $525 for James Taylor tickets for tickets in the name of Harry Dobelle (Dobelle's son)

■ $844 on a flight for his wife to go to Montana

Dobelle said he's paid back all money spent on personal expenditures.

He also said every dime he's spent has been for the good of the university.

"We have accomplished, with the board's approval, game-changing success," said Dobelle.

Those successes include making Westfield the state's best-valued university, raising its image around the world and bringing in $3 million in revenue.

However, this isn't the first time Dobelle's use of a school's money has been criticized.

He left his job as the president of the University of Hawaii in 2004 after similar concerns.

He only read a statement at Thursday night's meeting.

Amid all the controversy, he stands by what he has done for Westfield State.

"Our investments will pay huge to the citizens of the Commonwealth on our educated workforce in the future, and I think each and every one of us deserves to be proud of what we've accomplished together," said Dobelle.

The board will revisit the review and policy violations during their October meeting. The university has revised its policies and procedure when it comes to the use of their corporate credit cards.

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