Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick called Monday for embattled Westfield State University President Evan Dobelle to respond to concerns over his spending that led to a suspension of state funds to the school.
On a visit to Pittsfield High School, Governor Patrick faulted Dobelle’s response to the controversy.
“I think he’s not helping himself by apparently not taking this seriously and by having a spokesman in Boston whose role seems to be to trivialize the board of higher ed and the board of Westfield state,” Patrick says. “And that is not acceptable.”
Dobelle’s private spokesman has accused the state’s higher education commissioner, Richard Freeland, of blackmail, and the university’s board of conducting an illegal investigation into his spending using university credit cards.
State money in limbo
This counter-attack came after commissioner Freeland announced on Friday evening the suspension of nearly two hundred thousand dollars in state aid to the school, coupled with a recommendation that a planned two million dollar capital grant also be withheld.
When asked if Westfield State could recover its funding without firing Dobelle, Patrick says it is “probably too soon to say.”
Westfield State’s board will take up the issue when it meets on October 16th.
In a prepared video statement produced by the public relations company representing Dobelle and distributed online by Regan Original Video, Dobelle responded to the Patrick’s remarks.
“I appreciate the governor’s comments. I’ve known him for a long time,” Dobelle said. “He’s been down these kinds of roads before himself with charges and allegations. He’s always been afforded due process and all I’m asking for is the same due process.”
The state higher ed office says it received an explanation of Dobelle’s spending Monday afternoon fro his attorney. A statement from the office says Freeland “is disappointed that it took so long to receive the response but will give it a full and fair review.”
New England Public Radio’s Carrie Healy and Sam Hudzik contributed to this report.
Dobelle’s PR video
(Source: Regan Original Video)