Dobelle case costing Westfield State

WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Dealing with a state investigation into the spending of Westfield State’s former president may end up costing the University a lot more money.

The Westfield State Board of Trustees will have to decide whether to put up to $1.2 million into a fund for future legal costs associated with the investigation into former President Evan Dobelle.

Dobelle resigned in November amid allegations that he spent lavishly on travel and other expenses.

The state Inspector General has been looking into the situation, and WSU has hired the Boston-based law firm of Fish & Richardson to provide the information sought.

The University sent a statement to 22News reading in part: “It is unfortunate that Westfield State University has needed to incur and continues to incur substantial legal costs. However, in light of suits brought by the university’s former president and ongoing investigation by the state’s Office of Inspector General, it is the necessary and responsible decision to engage a law firm with a high level of expertise and experience in these matters.”

“Westfield State is committed to cooperating fully with state investigators, but does not have the internal capacity to respond to the Inspector General’s detailed and complex requests for information,” the statement continued.

If the board approves the transfer of funds, the money would come largely from a rainy day fund, and would not have an impact on programs or services, the University says.

WSU spokesperson Molly Watson told 22News that the $1.2 million does not include any of Dobelle’s legal expenses, which are being reviewed by the state Attorney General.

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