Dobelle linked to mystery caller
By Loren Moreno
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Loren Moreno
Someone impersonated a reporter from The Chronicle of Higher Education while using a cell phone number that was tracked back to former University of Hawai'i president Evan Dobelle, the Chronicle reported yesterday.
The caller, who identified himself as an intern from the Chronicle, called the University of Maine about a week ago to ask about compensation for the departing chancellor of the Maine university system, the journal reported on its Web site.
Dobelle did not immediately return phone calls from The Advertiser yesterday. However, a spokeswoman for the New England Board of Higher Education, where Dobelle is president, said Dobelle did make phone calls to the University of Maine system office but only because his office also received calls from a person claiming to be an intern at The Chronicle.
Paul Fain, a staff reporter with the Chronicle, tracked the phone number back to Dobelle after receiving a call from the University of Maine's Office of External Affairs, Fain said by phone yesterday from The Chronicle's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
Maine university officials told Fain they had received a call from a person who said his name was "Scott Northfield" and that he was an intern at the journal working on its annual survey of university executive compensation.
Maine officials contacted Fain after a phone number provided by Scott Northfield proved false, Fain said.
Fain told University of Maine officials that no intern by that name works at the Chronicle and that it was too early to even be working on the salary survey. Maine officials then provided Fain with the phone number where the Scott Northfield call came from, he said. The number, obtained through the university's caller identification records, ended up belonging to ousted UH president Dobelle.
"I called it and was very surprised to have Evan Dobelle answer the call. Actually, it confused me. I thought maybe I had the wrong number," Fain said. But university officials again confirmed with Fain that Dobelle's number was the origin of the Scott Northfield call.
Charlotte Stratton, spokeswoman for the New England Board of Higher Education, said Dobelle was simply relaying a message.
"He received a call from this supposed Mr. Northfield inquiring about the chancellor's position at the University of Maine. Evan called the university to pass on that inquiry and left them Mr. Northfield's supposed telephone number," said Stratton.
University of Maine officials said they could not recall receiving a phone call from Dobelle, reported The Chronicle.
Dobelle was fired "for cause" in June 2004 as president of the UH system. The firing was rescinded after he and the university reached a $1.8 million settlement in return for his resignation.
He has since become the president of the New England Board of Higher Education, a consortium that serves public and independent colleges, universities and graduate schools in six eastern states: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont, according to its Web site.
Reach Loren Moreno at firstname.lastname@example.org.