Westfield State University in Massachusetts put president Evan Dobelle on administrative leave Thursday and hired a Boston legal firm to investigate his administration. Dobelle was criticized for charging personal expenses on school credit cards and spending lavishly on foreign travel.
Dobelle's attorney, Ross Garber, told The Republican he was disappointed, but not surprised, “given the enormous amount of political pressure” involved. State higher education commissioner Richard Freeland had frozen discretionary state funding for Westfield and criticized Dobelle, saying the “reckless manner” he acted in had damaged the university’s reputation. A spokesman for Dobelle quickly issued a statement vowing a federal lawsuit against the university, and saying the board had allowed him to be "defamed."
Dobelle, who has led the university since 2007, has also responded to criticism that he spent on luxury hotels and restaurants during overseas trips, saying the spending was “strategically planned,” and brought a significant return on investment for the school. Dobelle was president of Trinity College in Hartford from 1995 to 2001.