Our Opinion: The report on Dobelle
The scathing state inspector general's report released this week on the spending practices of former Westfield State University President Evan Dobelle is sobering in its detail, lending further credence to media reports that preceded his resignation. Mr. Dobelle and his lawyer can continue to assert that he is the victim of a massive conspiracy by foes but that argument is not getting any stronger.
The report from the office of Inspector General Glenn Cunha asserted that Mr. Dobelle, a former mayor of Pittsfield, used university credit cards to accumulate thousands of dollars in personal expenses and travel costs. Further, the report said the former president disregarded university polices and misrepresented this spending as university-related in accounting for it.
The report drew the attention of the office of Attorney General Martha Coakley, which will determine if the state can sue Mr. Dobelle for the return of the money. Mr. Dobelle has a suit of his own in federal court, seeking $1.6 million in damages from state and university officials for allegedly conspiring to force him out of office. It can certainly be said that trustees did not adequately exercise their oversight role of university expenditures. The college has since adopted new oversight procedures and associates of the former president have left the school.
Mr. Dobelle's resignation quieted a controversy that was casting Westfield State University in a bad light, but it didn't end it. Dropping the lawsuit would constitute a large step in putting this matter to rest.