Mass. freeezes some Westfield St. funding in probe

WESTFIELD, Mass. (AP) — State Higher Education Commissioner Richard Freeland has frozen $197,000 in funding for Westfield State University after its president missed a deadline to explain travel spending criticized by the school's outside auditor and the state inspector general.

Freeland also announced late Friday he's recommending withholding another $2 million for a planned science center.

Freeland had set a Thursday deadline for President Evan Dobelle to submit his report. Dobelle asked for an extension until Monday. That was denied.

Freeland spokeswoman Katy Abel said the commissioner hopes to work with Westfield trustees to resolve concerns about the university's financial management and restore the funds.

Dobelle's spokesman George Regan called Freeland's move "bizarre" and an attempt to "blackmail" the trustees instead of waiting for a comprehensive response to his questions.

Dobelle has said his spending benefited the university.

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