Westfield State donor will donate funds if Dobelle drops lawsuit - CBS 3 Springfield - WSHM

Westfield State donor will donate funds if Dobelle drops lawsuit

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John Walsh John Walsh
WESTFIELD, MA (WSHM) -

The Westfield State Board of Trustees met Thursday night to discuss their process to find a new president after the school's former leader, Evan Dobelle stepped down from his post amid concerns over his spending of the school's money.

Two state investigations found that Dobelle mixed both personal and business expenses on the university's credit cards.

 It was during that time, John Walsh an alumni of the school and president and CEO of Elizabeth Grady, a skin-care company, retracted plans for a $100,000 scholarship.

Walsh said he did so because he was upset when he heard what was happening at the school.

Dobelle filed a lawsuit against Westfield State over the handling of his departure.

At Thursday's meeting Walsh spoke in front of the board calling out Dobelle for the suit.

Walsh said he was willing to re-instate the scholarship, but only on one condition, that Dobelle drops the lawsuit.

"Everything I have read or heard has been his best interest in the students and the college, but what interest is it to be suing the university?" said Walsh.

"This school took me from being in a brick jungle environment to this beautiful area of the Berkshires. It certainly opened my mind and enlightened my thought process. It exposed me to a variety of education components," he continued.  

He said he knows first hand what the school can do for it's students and that is why he has given Dobelle the ultimatum to drop the suit.

"He can admit that he has made a mistake, and I will immediately deposit $100,000 into scholarship funds for students at the school," said Walsh.

He said during the investigations, he was apprehensive from moving forward with the scholarship plans, but said is now confident in the board and would like to move forward in creating it.

"I am 100 percent confident they have the mechanisms in place to keep anything like that from happening again," said Walsh.

CBS 3 contacted Dobelle's lawyer, Ross Garber, who said over the phone, "If Mr. Walsh cares about the school, he should actually make a contribution," said Garber.

"Mr. Walsh made it clear tonight he is "100 percent confident" in the new administration and the direction in which the university is now proceeding. His re-engagement with the university is a strong signal to the campus community, and we appreciate his public support," said Molly Watson, spokeswoman for Westfield State.

Board members said the search panel will be created to look for their new president. The process is expected to begin sometime this summer.

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