Thursday, October 17, 2013

Lavish Spending in Higher Education

If you have ever had to manage a budget in education, you know that there is never enough money to do the job you were initially (things always are added) hired to do without overstressing yourself, and there are never enough staff members to accomplish the task quickly and efficiently. The reward for getting the job done is more work and a smaller budget.
Your average frontline employee in most universities are underpaid (I did not say poverty, just underpaid), but they accept that because there are benefits and perks with working in higher education, not to mention you are helping people.
When I hear of situations like the article I am about to share, I shake my head in disgust because this is not the kind of behavior we expect to see in education. I have previously blogged about this individual as well so this is no surprise.
“Dobelle Placed on Leave”
“Five-time college president Evan Dobelle's job hangs in the balance after he was placed on paid leave early this morning by the Westfield State University board”.
“Dobelle, the local news media reported, is on paid leave until Nov. 25, pending the outcome of the investigation, which is only the latest in a series of examinations of the president's spending. Dobelle's use of university funds has been described by Massachusetts state officials as unbridled, excessive, lavish and in violation of policies at the 6,000-student public university. For instance, a top state education official said Dobelle had not explained $14,000 in undocumented wire transfers to China and Vietnam and a $350 lunch and a $1,142 dinner, among other expenses”.
“The board's suspension and the faculty's no confidence vote cap weeks of mounting pressures on Dobelle. The president has been increasingly embattled after August revelations in The Boston Globe that he spent the public university's money extravagantly and, at times, on himself and his family”.

“The Westfield contretemps is not Dobelle's first at the helm of a public institution. Less than a decade ago, he departed the University of Hawaii System presidency amid accusations he had misspent money, lied and been unfit to lead. Westfield hired him anyway, a decision that raises questions about board-level decision making”.
Even if only a portion of this is true, it is still a lot of money. A university president should not be living the life of a Wall Street executive, lunch or dinner at Applebees or Outback should be fine (on the universities money at least).
Perception is everything, and right now the perception seems to be matching reality and that is a shame. The people who suffer in the end are students, and we are supposed to be there for the student.
Dr Flavius A B Akerele III
The ETeam

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