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Evan Dobelle

Evan S. Dobelle
23rd Mayor of
Pittsfield, Massachusetts
Preceded by Paul Brindle
Succeeded by Don Butler
Personal details
Born (1945-04-22) April 22, 1945
Washington, D.C.
Nationality American
Political party Democratic

Evan Samuel Dobelle (born April 22, 1945)[1] is a retired public official and higher-education administrator, is known for promoting higher-education investment in the Creative Economy,[2] public-private partnerships and the "College Ready" model that helps students graduate from high school and college.[3] He has also gained a national reputation for his frequent financial indiscretions, including billing the institutions at which he works for lavish personal expenses.[4]


  • Early life 1
  • Education and career 2
  • Research and recognition 3
  • Family 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Early life

Dobelle was born in Washington, D.C. on April 22, 1945.[5]

Education and career

Dobelle holds bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in Education Administration from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and a master's degree in public administration from Harvard University.[6] Elected mayor of Pittsfield, Massachusetts in 1973 and 1975, Dobelle was later Massachusetts State Commissioner of Environmental Management and Natural Resources. He was U.S. Chief of Protocol for the White House in the Carter administration with the rank of Ambassador. His wife Kit served as Chief of Protocol and Chief of Staff to First Lady Rosalynn Carter. He was the treasurer of the Democratic National Committee and National Chairman of the Carter-Mondale Presidential Committee.

Carter's 1980 campaign manager, Timothy Kraft, the former administration appointments secretary, stepped down a few weeks before the general election contest against Ronald W. Reagan after allegations surfaced that Kraft had used cocaine in 1978 in New Orleans.[7] Dobelle was the source of the allegation.[8] Kraft in 1981 was cleared of the charge by the special prosecutor in the case, Gerald J. Gallinghouse, a former U.S. Attorney in New Orleans who had prosecuted corruption in Louisiana state government.[9]

Long before the 1980 presidential race, Dobelle served on Governor Ronald Reagan's commission for educational reform but he was never a Reagan supporter.

Dobelle was president of Middlesex Community College in Lowell, Massachusetts from 1987 to 1990, where the library is named after him, and president and chancellor of City College of San Francisco from 1990 to 1995. While president of Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut (1995–2001), neighborhood renewal reversed declining enrollments.[10]

As president of the University of Hawaii from 2001 to 2004, he backed unifying the system's campuses, established the Academy of Creative Media, built a new medical school, reformed financial and building practices and strengthened Native Hawaiian programs. He was also criticized for politicizing the university by endorsing a gubernatorial candidate; cronyism in his hiring of administrators and consultants; paying unusually high salaries to administrators; taking too much credit for the university's improved enrollment and funding; and lavish spending on travel. On June 15, 2004 Dobelle was fired "for cause."[11] Turnover on the Board of Regents meant that there were no Regents left who had selected him as President.[12] A few weeks later, as Dobelle prepared to file a lawsuit, the university rescinded the firing as part of a mediated settlement. Dobelle agreed to resign from the presidency and not to apply for any other University of Hawaii positions, and the university agreed to a two-year non-tenured research position and a settlement of $1.6 million in cash, a state pension for life, and a fully paid $2 million life insurance policy, and assumed all legal costs of $1.2 million, with no finding of wrongdoing on the part of either Dobelle or the board.[13]

The ensuing controversy caused a statewide referendum to be passed by 63% that changed the way Regents were appointed by the Governor and was upheld unanimously by the Hawaii Supreme Court.[14][15][16]

In 2004, he became president of the New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE). A few weeks later he was unanimously chosen to be President of NEBHE by the 48 delegates representing the six New England governors. Dobelle reorganized and focused the organization on core issues of access and affordability, significantly heightening NEBHE’s visibility and increasing external funding. Dobelle also energized participation of the six states in the region for the College Ready initiative and engaged all New England Governors, SHEEOS, and K–12 Education Commissioners in a single cooperative effort to address high school graduation rates and college access.

In December 2007 Dobelle was appointed president of Westfield State College in Westfield, Massachusetts. During his tenure the school's name was changed from "college" to "university."[17]

Controversy once again ensued, however. In August, 2013, an audit commissioned by the executive committee of the university's board of trustees found that Dobelle mixed personal and institutional expenses in $180,209 worth of expenses submitted for reimbursement by the Westfield State College Foundation; Dobelle returned $34,854 in the weeks leading up to the audit report's preparation. Auditors also questioned other expenses, including $3,000 in tickets to the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and an unexplained $8,000 wire transfer to Vietnam, one of several undocumented expenses from a 2008 trip to Asia which cost $140,000. Reaction to the controversy includes an investigation by the state Attorney General's office and the withdrawal of a $100,000 gift.[18][19] Dobelle called the audit and its release illegal and defaming.[20] On October 16, the university faculty and staff voted "no confidence" in Dobelle, and following a 10-hour meeting the board of trustees unanimously voted to place Dobelle on paid administrative leave until an outside investigation could be completed.[21] On November 8, 2013, Dobelle announced his resignation from Westfield State University and his retirement from public service.[22] However, he is still both suing the university and billing it for over 90 thousand dollars in his legal fees.[23]

Research and recognition

He has researched and compiled the “Saviors of Our Cities” list, which spotlights the top 25 universities and colleges that are “exemplary examples of community revitalization and cultural renewal, economic drivers of the local economy, advocates of community service and urban developers, both commercially as well as in housing.” [24][25][26]

Dobelle serves on the Executive Boards of the Consortium of Urban and Metropolitan Universities ( CUMU), the Commission on Effective Leadership of the American Council on Education (ACE), and the Council on International Education (CIEE).

Dobelle has received accolades during his career for success in community outreach as well as management of colleges inclusive of faculty issues, athletic teams, student engagement and being an agent for change.[27][28][29][29][30][31][32][33][34] [34][35][36]


Dobelle's father was orthopedic surgeon Martin Dobelle, and his brother was scientist William H. Dobelle. He resides with his long-time wife, Kit. They have one son.


  1. ^ The New York Times Biographical Service - Google Books. Retrieved 2013-05-20. 
  2. ^ "Ex-President Dobelle Ranks ‘Em".  
  3. ^ Dobelle, Evan (2005-03-22). "Selling New England". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2007-06-01. 
  4. ^ "In fifth presidency, Evan Dobelle faces many allegations that ended his fourth".  
  5. ^ Carter, Jimmy (February 9, 1977), Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Jimmy Carter, 1977, Book 1: January 20 to June 24, 1977,  
  6. ^ "President Evan S. Dobelle Biography". Westfield State University web site. Retrieved October 15, 2010. 
  7. ^ "Jeff Berg, "The Political Kraft", March 2008". Retrieved June 30, 2013. 
  8. ^ Burton Ira Kaufman, The Carter Years, pp. 268-271.  
  9. ^ ""'78 Ethics Act Sets Procedure in Such Cases", April 3, 1984".  
  10. ^ Wolfe, Fay (Winter 1998). "The Man to Do It". UMass Magazine. Retrieved 2007-05-06. 
  11. ^ Gima, Craig (2004-06-16). "Dobelle Fired".  
  12. ^ Basinger, Julianne (2004-07-23). "Wipeout in Hawaii". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 2007-05-06. 
  13. ^ Basinger, Julianne (2004-08-13). "U. of Hawaii Settles Dispute With President". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 2007-05-06. 
  14. ^ Sakamoto, Norman (2007-07-24). "UH Board of Regents Candidate Advisory Council". Norman Sakamoto. Retrieved 2009-11-18. 
  15. ^ Bulletin, Star (2008-07-09). "Declare truce over UH regents and correct flawed law".  
  16. ^ Shikina, Robert (2007-08-27). "UH needs 12 new regents". Star Bulletin. Retrieved 2009-11-18. 
  17. ^ Lupkin, Sydney (10 July 2010). "What’s in a name? Plenty, say backers of renaming state colleges". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 30 August 2013. 
  18. ^ Andrea Estes; Scott Allen (18 August 2013). "Westfield leader scrutinized for lavish charges". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 30 August 2013. 
  19. ^ Andrea Estes; Scott Allen (29 August 2013). "Donor cancels planned $100,000 gift to Westfield State". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 30 August 2013. 
  20. ^ Scott Allen; Andrea Estes (30 August 2013). "Westfield State president calls review defaming and illegal". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 30 August 2013. 
  21. ^ Scott Allen; Andrea Estes. "Westfield State University trustees vote to place embattled President Evan Dobelle on paid administrative leave". Retrieved 17 October 2013. 
  22. ^ Bob Dunn. "Dobelle announces resignation from Westfield State University". Retrieved 8 November 2013. 
  23. ^ Jack Flynn. "Former Westfield State University president Evan Dobelle's lawyer is billing the school for $99,000-plus in legal costs". Retrieved 12 December 2013. 
  24. ^ Aujla, Simmi (2009-10-12). "Penn and Southern Cal Top Ranking of Good-Neighbor Colleges" (PDF). The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 2009-11-18. 
  25. ^ "2009 Survey Names Nation's Top 25 'Best Neighbor' Colleges and Universities" (PDF). Reuters. 2009-10-12. Retrieved 2009-11-18. 
  26. ^ "Editorial: A collegial neighborhood" (PDF). The Philadelphia Inquirer. 2009-10-17. Retrieved 2009-11-18. 
  27. ^ "Dobelle Again Remaking A City" (PDF). Hartford Courant. 2009-08-25. Retrieved 2009-11-19. 
  28. ^ Dobelle, Evan (2009-03-28). "A winning battle plan on learning". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2009-11-19. 
  29. ^ a b "Trinity: Decade of Dominance". ESPN. 2009-02-22. Retrieved 2009-11-19. 
  30. ^ "Creative Economy: Region’s New Success Ticket?". New England Futures. Retrieved 2009-11-19. 
  31. ^ Furukawa, George (September 2002). "Sense and Sensibility". Business Services Industry. Retrieved 2009-11-19. 
  32. ^ Thomasson, Dan (2006-08-30). "At Long Last, a List We Can Value". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved 2009-11-19. 
  33. ^ "Changes Bring Progress". Malamalama. Retrieved 2009-11-19. 
  34. ^ a b "United for Learning" (PDF). Retrieved 2009-11-19. 
  35. ^ "The Learning Corridor Opens for Learning" (PDF). Retrieved 2009-11-19. 
  36. ^ Gross, Jane (1997-04-14). "Trinity College Leads Effort To Spark Hartford's Renewal". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-11-19. 

External links

  • Evan Dobelle
  • Appearances on C-SPAN
Academic offices
Preceded by
Vicky L. Carwein
19th President of Westfield State University
December 2007-November 8, 2013
Succeeded by
Elizabeth "Liz" Hall Preston
(President Ad Interim)
Political offices
Preceded by
Paul Brindle
22nd Mayor of Pittsfield, Massachusetts Succeeded by
Don Butler
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