Education

Donor withdraws $100,000 gift to protest university president’s lavish spending

Robby Soave Reporter
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As revelations about lucrative compensation and bonuses for university presidents continue to outrage the public, a donor to Westfield State University said he has had enough.

John P. Walsh, owner of a cosmetics company, has decided to withdraw his $100,000 donation to Westfield, a public university in Westfield, Massachusetts.

The reason? Walsh is fed up with the spending habits of Westfield President Evan Dobelle, who charged thousands of dollars in luxury hotel and shopping bills to the university’s credit card.

“I am hopeful that Mr. Dobelle will either reimburse the college or step down,” he said in a statement to The Boston Globe.

Dobelle charged the university $8,000 for a four-night stay in a luxury hotel in Bangkok, Thailand. He has also traveled out-of-state on Westfield’s dime some 76 times during his 5 years as president, according to Inside Higher Ed.

Dobelle has defended the expenses, calling them a necessary component of his plan to increase Westfield’s national and international renown.

Under his leadership, Westfield has become “the hottest college in New England,” he said in a statement.

On Thursday, an accounting firm presented evidence to Westfield’s board of trustees of Dobelle’s repeated financial violations. Nonetheless, the trustees gave Dobelle their full confidence.

“When you are a visionary and want to do something great, you’re going to have detractors,” said Terrell Hall, a member of the board, during the meeting.

The detractors include Walsh, the media, and Massachusetts Secretary of Education Matthew Malone, who has expressed concern that Dobelle is damaging the public’s confidence.

Dobelle is just the latest in a long line of university presidents whose regal lifestyles have angered students, taxpayers and higher education analysts. (RELATED: Texas A&M president demands truly insane bonus, attempts cover-up)

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