Westfield State University board of trustee members took action early Thursday morning in response to allegations that school president Evan Dobelle spent lavishly on business expenses in the past few years.
“The board unanimously voted to place president Evan Dobelle on administrative leave with pay,” said Jack Flynn, the board’s chair.
Flynn says that leave is pending the outcome of a new investigation.
After more than 10 hours of a closed door meeting, Flynn made the announcement to a lingering group of union representatives, faculty and about a dozen students.
The board has hired a Boston law firm to investigate issues raised by the state inspector general. The investigation will cover Dobelle’s spending, employment and also leadership concerns at the university and its foundation. The firm Fish & Richardson will report its findings to the board no later than November 25th.
Dobelle left the building without speaking publicly. His attorney, Ross Garber, says they are disappointed by the board’s decision, and that Dobelle is still considering legal action against Westfield State.
“Given the limited amount of information the board had, given the the unfair process, and given the enormous amount of political pressure, I’m not surprised by this result,” Garber says. “I hope and expect and will insist that over the next several weeks that the board and the public get a fuller story.”
Before the meeting began Wednesday afternoon, the faculty and librarians’ union announced the results of a vote on whether they had confidence in Dobelle. One-hundred-thirty-eight said they had no confidence, while 61 supported Dobelle.