The View: Evan Samuel Dobelle
Authors of letters to the editor have cited Evan Samuel Dobelle, president of Westfield State University, as an embarrassment to the university and called for his resignation and/or firing for the alleged misuse of university and foundation monies for his own use.
Letters have appeared in the Boston Globe, which broke the story, and the Springfield Republican, which has carried their own reports of incidents.
The Berkshire Eagle, Pittsfield, where Dr. Dobelle once served as mayor, has carried an Associated Press story along with a column by one of its writers.
Neither the Westfield News nor the university’s student newspaper, the Westfield Voice, have carried the story for its readers.
Dr. Dobelle told the Boston Globe that he welcomes the investigations as well as the release of the internal review, saying, “I would be stunned if the audit found one thing that wasn’t accounted for.”
His tenure at Hawaii University was cut short when he was challenged over his spending.
University of Hawaii regents initially fired Dobelle in 2004, saying they had “lost trust” after years of clashes and high spending on everything from renovating the president’s mansion to travel.
The board rescinded the firing when Dobelle threatened to sue, and Dobelle said it paid him $3.8 million to terminate his 10-year contract.
Dr. Dobelle in the educational world is a “Visionary” and marches to a different drum than many college or university presidents.
Its Board of Trustees is reviewing his impact on Westfield State University.
A student demonstration or a no confidence vote by the faculty could force the trustees to make a decision on his tenure at the college.
The trustees at the urging of other state educational officials could force a resignation or a firing for cause.
He served as mayor of Pittsfield from 973-1975, and left to join the Carter administration as U.S. Chief of Protocol for the White House with the rank of Ambassador. His wife Kit served as Chief of Protocol and Chief of Staff to First Lady Rosalynn Carter
He was the treasurer of the Democratic National Committee and National Chairman of the Carter-Mondale Presidential Committee.
Dobelle was later Massachusetts State Commissioner of Environmental Management and Natural Resources.
Long before the 1980 presidential race, Dobelle served on Governor Ronald Reagan’s commission for educational reform but he was never a Reagan supporter.
Dobelle was president of Middlesex Community College in Lowell, Massachusetts from 1987 to 1990, where the library is named after him, and president and chancellor of City College of San Francisco from 1990 to 1995.
While president of Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut (1995–2001), neighborhood renewal reversed declining enrollments by improving housing stock in the neighborhood.
He was president of the University of Hawaii from 2001 to 2004 before being fired.
In 2004, he became president of the New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE). A few weeks later he was unanimously chosen to be President of NEBHE by the 48 delegates representing the six New England governors.
In December 2007, Dobelle was appointed president of Westfield State College in Westfield, Massachusetts. During his tenure the school’s name was changed from “college” to “university.”
In August, 2013, an audit commissioned by the executive committee of the Westfield State University’s board of trustees found that Dobelle mixed personal and institutional expenses in $180,209 worth of expenses submitted for reimbursement by the Westfield State College Foundation.
Last week he was before the board of high education including state Commissioner of Higher Education Richard M. Freehand.
Dr. Freehand during a public meeting with university trustees accused Dobelle of violating state ethics laws by repeatedly charging personal trips to university credit cards. He also urged the board of Trustees to take stronger action in holding Dobelle and school administrators accountable.
No allegations of theft or fraud have been made regarding the expenditures, but the auditors said record-keeping was so poor that distinguishing between personal and university-related expenses was sometimes impossible.
The board is schedule to meet Oct. 24, if not before.
Members of the board are:
-John F. Flynn III, Class of 1979, Chairman of the board of trustees, Chief Administrative Officer, Massachusetts State Police
-Hon. Elizabeth D. Scheibel, Vice Chairwoman, of South Hadley and former Northwestern District Attorney
-Kevin R. Queenin, Class of 1970, Secretary, president, Specialty Bolt & Screw Inc.
-Joseph Carvalho III, Class of 1975, former president and executive director, Springfield Museums
-Hon. Terry M. Craven, Class of 1973, First Justice, Suffolk County Juvenile Court, Boston
– Christel Ford Berry, attorney & financial consultant, Ford Berry Associates
-Terrell M. Hill, Class of 1992, principal, Windsor, CT High School, Inc.
– Stone Koury Student Trustee
-Steven P. Marcus, Class of 1988, president/ceo of New England Geriatrics
-Hon. Luis G. Perez, former First Justice, Worcester Juvenile Court
– James M. Ruberto, former Mayor of Pittsfield
Founded in 1838 by Horace Mann, Westfield State is an education leader committed to providing every generation of students with a learning experience built on its founding principle as the first public co-educational institution of higher learning in America to offer an education without barrier to gender, race or economic class. It was renamed Westfield State University 577 Western Avenue Westfield, MA 01086 firstname.lastname@example.org