Hellenic College-Holy Cross at the Edge of the Cliff

Rev. Christopher Metropulos with His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios Geron of America at Fr. Metropulos’ installment as HCHC President. Photo by (TNH Archives/Theodore Kalmoukos)

BOSTON – In a confidential letter, dated May 8, 2018, to His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America eleven members of the Board of Trustees including members of the Executive Committee as well of Hellenic College and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology (HCHC), warned in a most official and final way that Hellenic College is threatened with elimination and the Theological School is in danger of losing its academic accreditation, while its future is doubtful. They have arrived at the point of stating that maybe they will not accept students for this coming September.

The members of the Board of Trustees in their letter-report which was obtained by The National Herald write to the Archbishop as Chairman of the Board “regarding the very serious state of the institution” they stated and they request the immediate removal of the School’s President Rev. Christopher Metropulos. They wrote that “as trustees of HCHC, we have become recipients of a special spiritual and legal duty. How we exercise this duty is not only something for which we must answer to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts but, much more importantly, something for which we must answer to God and to all the faithful members of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America who love and depend on HCHC.

In addition, those of us who are members of the Executive Committee serve as representatives of all of the other trustees; they depend on and expect us to oversee the institution’s well-being, to report to them, and to communicate their insights and concerns to Your Eminence and the other corporate officers.”

The entire letter has as follows:

“CONFIDENTIAL

May 8, 2018

His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Geron of America

Chairman, Board of Trustees

Hellenic College Holy Cross

Your Eminence,

Christ is risen!  Your blessing!

With respect and love for you, the Greek Orthodox Church in America and Hellenic College

Holy Cross, we offer the following report and proposal regarding the very serious state of the

institution.

  1. Introduction

As you reminded us at the meeting on April 24, 2018, the meaning of the word fiduciary derives

from the Latin term, fidere, meaning “to have faith.” As trustees of HCHC, we have become

recipients of a special spiritual and legal duty. How we exercise this duty is not only something

for which we must answer to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts but, much more

importantly, something for which we must answer to God and to all the faithful members

of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America who love and depend on HCHC. In addition,

those of us who are members of the Executive Committee serve as representatives of all of the

other trustees; they depend on and expect us to oversee the institution’s well-being, to report to

them, and to communicate their insights and concerns to Your Eminence and the other corporate

officers.

For approximately 18 months, we have expressed to you repeatedly our very serious concerns

about the direction of HCHC under the leadership of Fr. President Christopher Metropulos. We

have communicated details about the institution’s spiritual, academic, financial, administrative,

and governance condition. Our intention throughout has been simple: to exercise faithfully our

responsibility as fiduciaries in the full sense of the term.

From the recent 76th Commencement ceremony of Hellenic College and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. (Photo by
TNH/Theodore Kalmoukos)

On April 24, 2018, we participated in the special BOT meeting convened to hear and assess Fr.

Christopher’s proposed “recovery plan” in light of HCHC’s rapidly declining conditions, a plan

the full Board had unanimously tasked him to prepare at its January 19 meeting. Despite the fact

that Fr. Christopher did not send his “plan” to the Board in advance of the meeting because he

said he did not trust the Board to keep it confidential, we patiently listened to Fr. Christopher’s

remarks; we considered his points carefully; we asked respectful questions; and we, along with

seemingly all who attended, became convinced that what Fr. Christopher offered us was totally

insufficient. It was not a “recovery plan,” it was a set of ideas and suggestions without coherence, without supporting evidence, without contributions from the Deans and faculty, and without a systematic path forward.  In short, at a time of crisis for the institution on a number of fronts, Fr.Christopher took three precious months to develop and present to the Board what he described himself as a set of “talking points,” a far cry from the “robust plan” the Board had asked him to prepare.

We have had serious concerns about Fr. Christopher’s abilities for many months; now, however,

we believe beyond doubt that tolerating his continuation as the President of HCHC would be a

betrayal of our spiritual and legal responsibilities as trustees.

In addition, we cannot, as fiduciaries, accept an incoming class at HCHC without a compelling

recovery plan and a President capable of executing it in collaboration with staff, faculty,

trustees, and other donors.

Before we delineate an alternative recovery plan, we would like to recap the key developments at

HCHC over the past 3 years.

  1. Key Developments During Fr. Christopher’s three years as President:
  2. Departures of Senior Management: all three Deans (Fr. Nicholas Belcher, Dean

Skedros, and Dean Katos), as well as the Vice President of Institutional Advancement (Kosta

Alexis) have either resigned abruptly or tendered their resignations effective June 30 of this year.

Rather than promptly informing the EC or the Board of these significant developments, Fr.

Christopher remained silent, only acknowledging the developments when asked about them in

the presence of the full Board. As of June 30, 2018, HCHC will not have a senior management

team.

  1. Enrollment: Fr. Christopher has failed in his efforts to increase enrollment.

HCHC enrollment has dropped 25% from 185 students in Sept ’15, to 182 students in Sept ’16,

to 166 students in Sept ’17, to an expected 140 in Sept ’18.

  1. Finances: The table set forth on Attachment I hereto shows HCHC’s summary

financial results and a few key financial metrics for the fiscal years ending June 30, 2016, 2017

and 2018 (projected).  The overall financial trend is alarming and is not sustainable.  Over the

three year period shown on Attachment I, HCHC has incurred or will incur cash deficits ranging

from $2.2 -$3.1 million per year.   Over the past 36 months, we have been averaging a monthly

cash deficit of ~$190,000, and HCHC is now unable to make payroll without further endowment

borrowing.  During Fr. Christopher’s presidency, we have borrowed a total of ~$6.7 million from

our unrestricted endowment funds (pooled accounts), and as of April 30, 2018, HCHC only had

~$1.1 million of such unrestricted pooled account funds remaining, as compared to a projected

cash deficit through the calendar year ending December 31, 2018 of $2.6 million.  Absent a

significant cash infusion, HCHC will run out of money before the end of the current fiscal year

(June 30).

Realistic projections for the next two fiscal years are equally dire.  The table set forth on

Attachment II hereto sets forth HCHC’s projected “baseline” financial performance for the fiscal

year’s ending June 30, 2019 and 2020.

As is evident from these figures, which project cash deficits over the next two fiscal

years ranging from ~$3.7-$3.9 million per year, HCHC’s financial situation has reached

crisis levels.  In order to fund operations for the balance of this fiscal year (which will

require ~$1,050,000) and achieve a balanced budget for the next two fiscal years, which is

essential in order to justify admitting the next incoming class, HCHC will require ~$8.7

million of incremental funds through either additional revenues or reduced costs.

  1. Accreditation: NEASC, one of our two accrediting bodies, issued us a formal

“Notice of Concern” in March 2017, stating that we are “in danger of not meeting the

Commission’s standard on Institutional Resources.” One year after this warning, in April 2018,

NEASC voted to continue HCHC’s “Notice of Concern” and will be coming to campus this Fall

for a site visit. Given the continued decline of our finances and enrollment and numerous

governance issues, the probability that we will be placed on probation or even lose our

accreditation outright is high.

  1. Fundraising: With the exception of donations & pledges for the failed student-

center proposal, fundraising has been generally flat. Fr. Christopher travels continuously, but

without a methodical development plan, without accountability to the board, and without

communicating the purpose of his absences from campus to senior management or trustees.

With the departure of Kosta Alexis, who indicated that he left due to a lack of Presidential

“leadership and vision,”  the school is left without a professional development officer at a time

when the need for such skill set could not be more critical.  Since Mr. Alexis’ departure in 2017,

Fr. Christopher has made no effort to search for a replacement.

  1. Facilities: Responsibility for Facilities and Grounds has been neglected since the

departure of James Karloutsos in 2015. Jacobs Engineering conducted a study of our campus in

2015, which ascertained that there are currently ~$10.5 M in facilities deficiencies, including

several ADA violations. The President received and reviewed the report, but no action has been

taken.

  1. Strategic Planning: No work has been done on Strategic Planning under Fr.

Christopher’s leadership, despite this being a vital component of accreditation evaluation and a

valuable planning tool.

  1. Unsustainable Academic Programs: Some of the undergraduate programs have

been running at unsustainable levels and a proposal to close some programs (Elementary

Education, Management & Leadership) have been dismissed by Fr. Christopher.

  1. Oversized Faculty: Nothing has been done to adjust the size of the faculty in

light of declining enrollments, even though the 2 academic deans have made recommendations

and provided a plan to the President. Currently, HCHC has 22 full-time faculty for only 164

students. This overall ratio is nearly three times higher than the ratio at comparable institutions,

and the ratio comparisons are even worse for some specific programs.

  1. Governance: Between December 2016 and today, 10 Executive Committee

Meetings have been canceled. The Oct. 2017 EC meeting was scheduled with only 4 days’

notice. Thus, over the course of 20 months (Nov 2016-May 2018) a total of only 5 EC meetings

have been held. According to our bylaws there should have been 16 meetings. In addition, 14

months after the repose of Christine Karavites, we still have no BOT Corporate Secretary.

Minutes have not been kept consistently and, at times, have been kept irresponsibly, as was

evidenced by the need for substantial corrections and edits to the January 19, 2018 meeting

minutes.

  1. Communication and Collaboration with Trustees: Repeatedly, trustees have

been left out of communications, misinformed about vital institutional data, and sidelined from

the governance process, compromising our ability to fulfill our entrusted roles. For example: (a)

the NEASC “notice of concern” issued in March 2017 was not shared with the BOT until 2

months after it was received; (2) for the entire Fall semester 2017, Fr. Christopher did not bother

to communicate declining enrollment numbers to the BOT; and (3) Dean Skedros submitted his

letter of resignation to Fr. Christopher in October 2017, requesting to end his term as Dean a year

early; yet, at the December 2017 EC meeting, the President denied that Dean Skedros had done

so and he never communicated this critical information to the Academic Affairs Committee.

III. Essential Prerequisites for a Successful Recovery Plan

  • New Presidential Leadership Immediately Following Graduation
  • Financial Resources- financial exigency, Archdiocesan funds & new commitments
  • Emergency Special BOT Meeting Following Graduation

Given the advanced state of the crisis within which HCHC now finds itself, the uphill

demographic changes (“the fundamental problem is too many institutions chasing too few

students”1), and the competitive and assessment landscape of higher education today, Hellenic

College’s demise is much more probable than its recovery, and Holy Cross is in grave risk of

losing accreditation. The examples of small colleges and seminaries that have closed or merged

with other institutions are abundant. We do not say this out of a lack of faith or hope; we say it as

a reality that must be taken seriously, especially as the Board considers whether or not to accept

an incoming class in the Fall of 2018.

Small colleges that defy this trend today are those that “have found a strong niche”2 and that

have a President who inspires and collaborates with senior management and with trustees. As a

hard-working and faithful priest of the Church, Fr. Christopher has our respect; as our

brother in Christ, he and his family have our love and prayers. However, in light of our

experience over the past three years, we have withdrawn our confidence in him as HCHC’s

President. In our judgment, even if the “recovery plan” he presented on April 24th had been a

compelling plan, he is not capable of leading the HCHC community through such a complex and

inescapably collaborative endeavor.

1 “Strength in Numbers: Strategies for collaborating in a new era for higher education:

http://parthenon.ey.com/po/en/perspectives/strength-in-numbers–higher-education-collaboration

2 S. Reynolds in ibid.

We need a leader who will work with us—not ignore us; who will solicit and listen to our

expertise—not sideline and patronize us; and who will bring out the best in the students, staff,

faculty, trustees, alumni, and benefactors of this sacred school.

The foregoing sets the context for what we believe to be the essential prerequisites to a

successful recovery plan for HCHC.  These prerequisites, which are set forth below, constitute

the immediate and decisive actions that we believe must be taken in order to set the stage for the

recovery of HCHC and enable the Board to justify acceptance of an incoming class for the 2018-

2019 school year.

Prerequisite #1 (New Presidential Leadership): HCHC needs a new leader immediately.

Fr. Christopher needs to submit his letter of resignation to Your Eminence and the Board or be

removed, in either case effective immediately following graduation (May 20, 2018).

Prerequisite  #2 (Near Term Financial Resources): Anchored by (i) a commitment from

the Archdiocese to get current on its financial commitment over the next 2 years (1.75M arrears

+ 1.0M budgeted for current year), (ii) identified cost savings resulting from financial exigency

and other cost saving measures, and (iii) financial commitments in support of the HCHC

Recovery Plan, HCHC must have a credible and realistic balanced budget that will carry the

school through June 30, 2020. The Finance Committee, Interim President and administration

should jointly and promptly determine whether such a budget can be developed.

Prerequisite #3 (Emergency Special BOT Meeting): The BOT needs to have an

emergency Special Meeting immediately after graduation to:

  1. Appoint an interim President, from Your Eminence’s recommended candidates,

who will serve a minimum 12-18 months (hiring terms to include appropriate incentives,

evaluative criteria, and a review process).

  1. Appoint a new Corporate Secretary from Your Eminence’s recommended

candidates.

  1. Honor Vice-Chair Dr. Lelon and discuss rotating in a new Vice-Chair to leading

the Recovery Plan.

  1. Set BOT and EC meeting schedule for the near term and for the fiscal year

July1 ,2018 through June 30, 2019.

  1. Set up a meeting with NEASC to update them on changes / HCHC Recovery Plan.
  2. Begin implementation of the “HCHC Recovery Plan” under the leadership of the

interim President (see outline below).

  1. The HCHC Recovery Plan

The recovery plan should begin in earnest on May 21, 2018, immediately following graduation

weekend. We believe that immediate and decisive action with respect to the Essential

Prerequisites outlined above gives HCHC its only viable  chance of overcoming the

daunting challenges that it currently faces.  Without the Essential Prerequisites, any recovery

plan, including the plan outlined herein, will not be successful. Assuming that the Essential

Prerequisites have been acted upon, below is a preliminary summary of the key elements of the

Recovery Plan, starting with a tentative financial resource plan.  The exact details of the plan will

continue to be developed and refined in conjunction with the Interim President and the

administration:

  1. Financial Overview: While the financial challenges facing the school are

significant (see Attachment II), we believe that the gap can potentially be filled through a

combination of (i) increased Archdiocesan funding (i.e., the Archdiocese gets current on its

financial commitment over the next 2 years by funding the current receivable balance of $1.75

million, in addition to providing the $1 million per annum as presumed in the baseline

projections on Attachment II), (ii) cost savings resulting from a declaration of financial exigency

and other measures, and (iii) incremental financial commitments and fundraising in support of

the HCHC Recovery Plan.  The table below sets forth a potentially achievable path towards a

balanced budget result for HCHC over the next two fiscal years.  As indicated above, we believe

the Finance Committee,  Interim President and administration should meet immediately

following graduation to jointly and promptly refine this analysis and determine whether the

projected budget gaps can realistically be closed.

Supporting our recovery

FY18 FY19 FY20 Total

Recovery plan campaign                 400,000                 800,000                 600,000             1,800,000

Other Gifts                 250,000                 250,000                 500,000

BOT ongoing                 250,000                 250,000                 500,000

Fundraising events                 500,000                 500,000             1,000,000

Repurpose Student Center donations                 750,000                 750,000

Additional endowment borrowing                 600,000                 400,000             1,000,000

Financial exigency savings                 600,000                 600,000             1,200,000

Financial exigency costs               ( 300,000)               (300,000)

Other cost savings                 300,000                 300,000                 600,000

Repayment of Archdiocesan

Receivable Balance (as of 6/30/2018)                 850,000                 900,000             1,750,000

Total              1,000,000             4 ,400,000              3,400,000             8,800,000

  1. Declare Financial Exigency:

* increases options for closing academic programs (no “teach out” required)

* frees us to restructure faculty contracts / tenure status

  1. Institutional Advancement – Phase I:

* We believe that the taking of action with respect to the Essential Prerequisites

and adoption of a credible Recovery Plan will position HCHC to raise significant levels

of incremental funds from donors that do not want to see the school fail.

His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Geron of America  CONFIDENTIAL

May 8, 2018

Page 7

* On a voluntary basis and without solicitation, trustees with knowledge of

HCHC’s current situation have volunteered to contribute a total of $400,000 contingent

on adoption of a viable recovery plan that includes the essential prerequisites referenced

above.  We believe that decisive action on the Essential Prerequisites and adoption of the

proposed recovery plan will draw substantial additional support from donors who are

currently not willing to support HCHC under Fr. Christopher’s leadership.

* Begin search for new head of Institutional Advancement to fill position vacated

byKosta Alexis.

  1. Immediate Cost reductions (in addition to financial exigency savings):

* Consider moving to 4-day work week for most staff

* Additional personnel changes

  1. Academic Affairs Steps:

* Identify and appoint interim deans to begin after current deans’ contracts end

(June 30, 2018)

* Review / streamline existing programs in Hellenic; preserve only 2 or 3

undergraduate majors that align fully with HCHC’s mission / Orthodox identity.

* If a program is eliminated, we are obligated to provide each student who

matriculated in that program with either a “teach out plan,” whereby we provide the

remaining required courses for completing the degree over the next 1-3 years and/or a

transfer plan, whereby we arrange for affected students to complete their degree at

another undergraduate institution. If we declare financial exigency, we are only obligated

to arrange “transfer plans.”

* Offer severance packages to tenured faculty

* Reduce full-time faculty by at least 50%, offering half and part-time positions as

needed to cover core requirements. Move from 2 faculties to 1 faculty, with 1 Academic

Dean.

* Change contracts and expectations for full-time faculty who stay (consider

elimination/significant reduction of tenure, increased teaching load, mandatory hours on

campus for full-time faculty, freeze on sabbaticals & conference travel, etc.).

  1. New Student Life Initiatives:

* Name a campus Chaplain, ideally from within, and refocus on cultivating a

healthy and prayerful Orthodox ethos on campus.

His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Geron of America  CONFIDENTIAL

May 8, 2018

Page 8

* Consider various initiatives to enrich student experiences and promote cohesion

(such as launching a new and significant philanthropy project, increasing the role of

OVM, developing a Philoxenia House promotional video, conducting student fundraisers

for missions, ethics bowl, etc.).

* Offer a menu of global Orthodox immersion experiences ranging from 5 or 6

days to a full semester abroad.

* Further promote Health & Well-being of all students, staff, and faculty

  1. Admissions / Enrollment / Incentives:

* New comprehensive admission strategy with incentives for Director

* Increase discount rate temporarily to increase on campus enrollments.

* Announce a set number of top tier scholarships, providing outstanding

prospective students with 75-100% tuition awards.

* Increase Summer school offerings with optional on-campus housing and market

to Orthodox students enrolled elsewhere. “Spend 3 weeks on campus taking an intensive

course, connecting with God and fellow Orthodox from around the country.” This could

be like CrossRoad 2.0.

  1. Institutional Advancement Phase II:

* Fundraising tour; new head of Institutional Advancement, interim President

(where feasible), Helen Carlos, others; Events in each Metropolis if possible to promote

the new vision for HCHC, increase visibility, recruit students, build alumni relationships

and local communities of HCHC supporters.

  1. Additional Funding Sources and Revenue Streams:

* Property and facilities rental / use

* Possible property sale

* Continuing education courses in online and intensive formats for clergy, etc.

* Summer school initiatives / intensives

CONFIDENTIAL

Attachment I

Historical Results and Selected Metrics

Historical Results and Selected Metrics:  The table below shows HCHC’s summary financial

results (cash basis) and a few key financial metrics for the fiscal years ending June 30, 2016,

2017 and 2018 (projected):

Projected FY

Category FY Ending 6/30/16 FY Ending 6/30/17 Ending 6/30/18

Net Tuition, R&B & Fees 4,493,790 4,822,298 4,465,017

Archdiocese Grant 1,500,000 1,250,000 0

Other Grants & Contributions 1,057,153 2,076,897 1,670,000

Other Operating Revenue 774,615 672,705 619,983

Regular Operating Endowment Releases 2,570,082 2,050,687 1,800,000

Total Operating Revenue 10,395,640 10,872,587 8,555,000

Salary and Benefits 7,530,758 7,849,285 7,156,000

Operating Expenses 5,000,860 4,919,172 4,214,840

Interest and Principal 284,059 313,947 327,000

Total Operating Expenses (includes principal and interest

payments) 12,815,677 13,082,404 11,697,840

Net Cash Surplus (Deficit) (2,420,037) (2,209,817) (3,142,840)

Endowment Borrowings 1,258,367 2,523,722 3,192,000

Adjusted Net Cash Surplus (Deficit) (1,161,670) 313,905 49,160

Key Assumptions/Metrics

Enrollment 182 167 170

Faculty Size (full time eqiv) 22 22 22

Student/Faculty Ratio 8.3 7.6 7.7

Archdiocesan receivable 0 250,000 1,750,000

Tuition Discount Rate 51% 44% 41%

CONFIDENTIAL

Attachment II

Projected Results and Selected Metrics

Historical Results and Selected Metrics:   The table below sets forth HCHC’s projected “baseline”

financial performance (cash basis) for the fiscal year’s ending June 30, 2019 and 2020.  The key

assumptions used for this forecast, which are grounded in the reality experienced by HCHC over

the last three fiscal years, are as follows:

Enrollment- Assumed to be 140 students for FY ending 6/30/19, increasing by 10

students to 150 for the FY ending 6/30/20; discount rate consistent with FY18.

Archdiocesan contribution- $1,000,000 per annum

Other contribution/donation levels- modeled to be slightly down year over year from

nearly $1.7 million to ~$1.6 million in FY19to reflect impact of departure of IA head and

current donor reluctance to support HCHC

Other revenue and expense categories- no changes

Projected FY Projected FY

Category Ending 6/30/19 Ending 6/30/20

Net Tuition, R&B & Fees 3,677,071 3,939,719

Archdiocese Grant 1,000,000 1,000,000

Other Grants & Contributions 1,600,000 1,700,000

Other Operating Revenue 585,000 400,000

Regular Operating Endowment Releases 1,500,000 1,500,000

Total Operating Revenue 8,362,071 8,539,719

Salary and Benefits 7,186,433 7,186,433

Operating Expenses 4,500,000 4,500,000

Interest and Principal 583,000 607,000

Total Operating Expenses (including principal and interest) 12,269,433 12,293,433

Net Cash Surplus (Deficit) (3,907,362) (3,753,714)

Key Assumptions/Metrics

Enrollment 140 150

Faculty Size (full time eqiv) 22 22

Student/Faculty Ratio 6.4 6.8

Assumed Tuition Discount Rate 41% 41%.”

21 Comments

  1. Like everything else in our Church, this too is dying. Central to all of these “open sores” is one factual consistency. There is one thing that is common and seems to uniformly exist in our Church as an institution. That one thing is a lack of courage by those who have chosen an ecclesiastical life in our Church. All of our Clergy, be they Priest or Hierarch take the path of least resistance. Defined the “path of least resistance” means, metaphorically the pathway that provides the least resistance to going forward. The word forward is key here. Our seminary and college are no longer moving forward. They are gong backwards and now sit on the brink of closure.
    They could not address any issue as they always chose the path of least resistance, because it was easier to do nothing. Whether its a bloated budget, ill equipped facility members or the constant stream of adherents to Elder Ephraim’s “theology”, nothing was fixed. Now we all pay. We all must watch the slow motion car wreck that is HC/HC.

  2. Even if the Archdiocese did not have the financial catastrophe that now exists, HCHC would still be suffering now because it has always suffered. The dire financial straits the school now finds itself is a never ending, broken record. Many presidents before the current one raised a lot of money for the school but that money invariably went to keeping the school afloat, not pushing it forward. It is inconceivable that one of the most socioeonomically successful ethnic groups in the United States has not been able, or perhaps more revealingly, not seen fit, to support the school. HCHC, as Holy Cross Seminary, was founded in 1937. Today, 81 years later it is on the brink of disaster. So here are a few questions. Why, after so many years has the school not grown? Why is Brandeis University where it is today although founded in 1947, ten years after HCHC? Why is the endowment fund a measly $25 million when it could/should be ten to twenty times that amount? Why have, over the years and up to the present time, many Greek Americans given tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars to many colleges and universities in this country? Why have there been almost no multimillion dollar gifts to the school and the one biggest donation is not under the direct control of the school? Why was it decided in the 1990s that the annual Archdiocesan support of the school was to be raised to several million dollars a year only to see that promise go away quietly into the night? Could there be one answer: because the school is an Archdiocesan institution? Why do great amounts of money (who knows how much) leave this country? (Readers can figure out for themselves the meaning of that question.) Why is it still mandated in the bylaws of the school that the Archbishop is the chair of the board of trustees? Why are the college and the school of theology governed by the same bylaws instead of separately and with each having its own board of trustees? It has been surmised that there are those who do not want to see the school grow because they want to continue to be (supposedly) big fish in a little pond. It is time to separate the two schools, if they survive. It is time for the Archbishop to not be chairman of the board of trustees, even of a separate school of theology board. It is time that the college’s board not have any clergy members if there is a separate board. It is time to find the money to bring a president to the school who has experience in higher education administration as a school president, provost or dean. It is time to convoke a series of meetings of Orthodox laypeople who have experience in higher education administration to help with governance, academics, etc., and Orthodox laypeople who could help the school find new direction to meet its financial obligations and to grow. This catastrophic situation is shameful and embarrassing. Every member of the archdiocese, regardless of position, needs to look carefully in the mirror and ask the reflection they see in front of them two questions? Am I part of the problem? And, why have I not done something that would have helped to avoid this situation?

  3. Chief Operating Officer, Vice President of Institutional Advancement, Chief of IT, Dean of Students, Dean of Hellenic College, Dean of the Theological School… all have resigned or tendered their resignations.

    Isn’t it a shame that the executive committee and some trustees have been aware of the situation since 2016. That situation being bad leadership that has resulted in the resignation of all key staff. Trying to take the situation under control and working to come up with a plan to no avail as that has been ignored. It is not even the trustees job to come up with a workable plan. The administration’s plan was viewed as ineffective and based on hard to believe contributions and borrowing. Why did key members of the executive committee have to take on this role? Because they were shut out of deliberations to try and save the school. The December ‘16, Jan ‘17, Feb ‘17, April ‘17, Sept ‘17, Nov ’17, Jan ’18, Feb ’18, and March Executive Committee meetings were cancelled. The May ’18 and June ’18 are not even being acknowledged as regular meetings. The Oct 2017 meeting was scheduled with only 4 days notice. No executive committee meetings were held in July or August 2017. Thus, over the course of 20 months (Nov 2016-June 2018) a total of only 5 executive meetings have been held/or were scheduled. According to the bylaws this should be 17. Only one meeting of the full Board (Jan 19, 2018) has been held over the past 11 months.

    According to the bylaws, ONLY the Archbishop can relieve the President. The trustees have nothing but love and admiration for the Archbishop but his plate has been too full.

  4. So the inaction by some will punish all? The necessary steps are clear if we are to save our school, yet who will act as a leader to make those steps. I commend the board for pushing for change and hope they don’t back down. Perhaps leadership will understand the ramifications of their inaction and step away; if not, we should start prepping St. Vladimir’s to take our students.

  5. Look, closing the school is what the Greeks and the Patriarchate want to happen.

    As we become more Americanized, they are afraid of losing their grip. They are losing America and they know it and it scares the hell out of them. They killed the Golden Goose.

    Greece is in shambles, it can’t support its military or its state-paid priest

    Solution: Close HCHC. When the Amerikanakia ask for a priest, we’ll send the from Greece-beards, dirty robes, and attitudes included. They get HB-1 visas and JOBS.

    The Greeks can thus control the Amerikanakia and have a built in jobs and control program. The Golden Goose stays in the cage.

    You know I’m right. Think Greek not American.

    Highly cynical, but prove me wrong.

    1. Hellenic College might close but Holy Cross will not. Many priests in this country, born and raised here and graduates of Holy Cross, have beards and an increasing number wear robes on a regular basis. The beards and dirty robes comment is not cynical. It’s insulting. And Hellenic College and Holy Cross are in such dire straits, as they have always been, because not enough Greeks AND Amerikanakia have never supported the school financially the way it can and should be financially supported. There is more than enough blame to pass around. However, what has never been discussed, and your comments provide a great segue into the subject, is whether the college’s name, Hellenic, was and is a mistake. If the college had a saint’s name, for instance (and there are plenty of colleges/universities in the US named thusly, so it’s hard to argue against this idea), then perhaps the school would have had an Orthodox identity and attracted support and students from the various Orthodox churches in the US. However, LMC, you are correct about the Greek angle here in that it would never occur to Greeks in this country to consider such a concept for what is called Hellenic College. While I might be the bilingually fluent proud child of Greek immigrant parents, I recognize that the Greek angle has long held the church back in this country. Unfortunately I sincerely believe it’s too late to save the college unless what I proposed above comes to pass which might convince some really wealthy folks to step up and put up.

      1. Alitheia – From it’s inception at Pomfret, seminarians were clean shaven and wore suits and collars. Only the celibates wore cassocks. Long beards and cassocks will not bring people to the faith.

    2. LMC – your cynicism is based on the fact that Greek Americans will remain in the church. Presently, the players in the Orthodox world are “ego” motivated, holding on to their titles and historical positions and status – no matter what the cost.
      Implementing mid-evil interpretations of archaic and anachronistic rules and “canons” to support their insanity. Our youth will have no part in this in the future. They will not be obliged to do so. Ministries like Hillsong United are what move the youth nowadays.

    3. LMC it is painful to admit but everything you say is true.

      The GOA is the US arm of the Greek foreign ministry. We are Greek-centric not Christ-centric.

      I love my heritage and want to pass it to my kids but that must be secondary to my faith. That is missing in the GOA sadly.

  6. Michael Albano, true enough but the clean shaven and suits were a sign of things to come. A slow abandonment of tradition, of almost immediately giving in to the influence of American society, as in, who are these people, they don’t belong here, etc., not to mention organs (why can’t choirs sing a cappella) and hideous, non-Orthodox iconography. At the school, though, the students wore cassocks, and, there was the occasional mustache. Besides, beards and cassocks are humbling. They also set the clergy aside a bit. Today, too many clergy want to just be one of the boys and they are treated that way. It is, in part, the neglect of history and tradition that has brought this upon us.

    1. I get your point and respect your point of view but this whole conversation shows how greatly we are missing the boat.

      Do you think Jesus gives a crap over cassocks v. suits or beards v. clean shaven or organs v. acapello? Read the Gospels and see what he told us matters!

      All the other stuff is meaningless! All that matters is preaching the Gospel of Christ crucified and Christ glorified. And to the people, not just the Greek tribe at prayer.

      When is the last time you saw your GOA priest dirty his French cuffs or manicured nails serving food in a shelter or holding a shivering addict in a sober living house? Not so much. Serving souvlakia at the Greek festival maybe, but serving the destitute, addicted, diseased? Not so much.

      1. Amen Michael! Preach!! The only thing that matters is the bible and surrendering oneself at the foot of the Cross in repentance.
        I only know of a hand full of priests that are willing to roll up their sleeves and jump into the “trenches” of their respective communities and work!!!

      2. You just proved my point. You can’t put new wine into old wineskins. The Cross is the new tree, Christ is the new Adam, the Theotokos the new Eve, Orthodoxy is the new Israel and the earthly Jerusalem has been replaced by the Jerusalem on high. Abandoning tradition got us to where we are today.

      3. If parishes woke up and stopped shipping so much money out maybe they could afford to support a second, or third, priest who would have the time to tend their flocks and maybe have a little time left over to do some of the things you suggest. Then again I know priests who do a lot of what you suggest. They just don’t announce it in the weekly bulletin. And there are those priests who do engage the laity in their parishes to do such things. And who among us has done such work and asked their priest to organize a group to do such work in the community? Michael, have you done any or all of the things you question of the priests?

      4. Not sure this will post in the right place but yes I teach my family to do all the things I wish I saw our clergy doing. I open my home twice a year for large fundraisers for our local homeless shelter and food bank. We have collected in my home 11,500 pounds of food in eight years and going strong. We go to the shelter and volunteer two or three times a month. Recently we organized a day to rehab for free the home of elderly woman who did not even have hot water for five years. I am not signing my name or looking for glory so I am happy to answer your question. I practice what I preach but know I am also unworthy and can never earn the good that God has freely given to me.

        In addition to the work with our local food pantry we also started collections for our church food pantry. After the third delivery the church secretary, a good woman, pulled me aside and suggested I take it directly to the food bank itself. She said the parish council members were helping themselves to whatever they liked and leaving what was left for the poor. Unfortunately this is a large part of our GOA in action. There are some good people of course but not the majority.

  7. So, we’re all agreed in one form or another. The whole deal is over. Rest In Peace. Grab your “Go” bag and hope to survive the Zombie Apocalypse.

    The Metros can remain behind in old, new, and last Rome while it burns to the ground with them in it.

    A new start seems very refreshing in a way.

    Maybe like L. Ron Hubbard, I’ll invent my own religion.

    American Greekology.

    1. LMC you make an important point. I think the lack of spirituality in our churches are why we are losing our young people and they are vulnerable to all the other things of the world that glitter and beckon them.

      We have been going more and more to our local OCA church. Many converts and the focus is really on God and service to His people. Sadly we leave much more spiritually refreshed that when we leave our own GOA parish.

      I like American Greekology, but in case it doesn’t catch on, we will keep supporting financially our local OCA church until the GOA adopts transparency and accountability. I am done paying for Evangelos’ chauffeured trips to “work” from New York City every day. Must be nice. Sadly I think it will be a long wait.

  8. This is not the first time that Hellenic College Holy Cross has been at the same crossroad it is currently at, with the embarrassing and high likelihood of closing its doors because of financial crisis and mismanagement of the Institution. To be clear, the Archbishop is the Chairman of the Board, Every Metropolitan serves on the Board…the very Board that selects the Presidents and Administrators and the future direction of the Institution. Do they even attend the board meetings? Aren’t they accountable for the leadership roles they have?

    In 1985/86 under the Archdiocesan leadership of Archbishop Iakovos , Paulette Poulos and the former Director of Economic Development, Chris Demetriades, decisions were made which significantly effected the schools future. There was a dramatic reduction in HC/HC financial support by the Archdiocese therefore forcing Hellenic College to modify the academic offerings.

    The pre-theology and Greek studies programs were saved (of course), all other programs at the College were eliminated. Basically, all students other than those studying to possibly become clergy, were tossed aside like garbage. The Theological school was kept in tact. Dr. Lelon , the President of HCHC at the time, under whose tenure brought the school to its strongest, was replaced after the many hard years he worked to grow the enrollment of the college and increase the Endowment. The school has never rebound in leadership, enrollment, vision or financial stability ever since.

    Several Presidents have come and gone, however the most destructive President of HCHC was Metropolitan Methodios. He failed miserably as president and as he is an inadequate leader, causing nothing but division and contempt. He continues to meddle in the school affairs even now, years after he stepped down from his presidency. Several of the incompetent clergy who have been teaching at the school for decades have regular “private” meetings with Methodios on a regular basis so he can continue to sabotage the leadership at the school. His meddling has made progress at the school impossible to this very day.

    The real fact of the matter is that after decades of a College and Theological school, we have not progressed one bit! The reason, we keep hiring inept leaders with absolutely no experience in running an academic institution. The school should have a huge endowment and be growing. Instead, there is practically no endowment and we are once again facing destruction. The school continues to blame the Archdiocese for not supporting or increasing funding however at this point in its history, HC/HC should be able to sustain itself and the Archdiocese funding should be used for scholarships an growth.

    The Metropolitans and Clergy, who have all graduated from the school, should be required to be continual fundraisers and support the institution they supposedly love. Instead, they are more interested in complaining and doing nothing about it.. Their fundraising and concerns are “local” and they really don’t care about the institution of the Church or HC/HC. If they did, they would attend meetings and act like a Synod and not like a band of thieves.

    God help HC/HC and our Archdiocese. Hopefully we will see a complete cleansing of our institutions and new, experienced leaders will be found… the problem is .. from where ?

  9. This is not the first time that Hellenic College Holy Cross has been at the same crossroad it is currently at, with the embarrassing and high likelihood of closing its doors because of financial crisis and mismanagement of the Institution. To be clear, the Archbishop is the Chairman of the Board, Every Metropolitan serves on the Board…the very Board that selects the Presidents and Administrators and the future direction of the Institution. Do they even attend the board meetings? Aren’t they accountable for the leadership roles they have?

    In 1985/86 under the Archdiocesan leadership of Archbishop Iakovos , Paulette Poulos and the former Director of Economic Development, Chris Demetriades, decisions were made which significantly effected the schools future. There was a dramatic reduction in HC/HC financial support by the Archdiocese therefore forcing Hellenic College to modify the academic offerings.

    The pre-theology and Greek studies programs were saved (of course), all other programs at the College were eliminated. Basically, all students other than those studying to possibly become clergy, were tossed aside like garbage. The Theological school was kept in tact. Dr. Lelon , the President of HCHC at the time, under whose tenure brought the school to its strongest, was replaced after the many hard years he worked to grow the enrollment of the college and increase the Endowment. The school has never rebound in leadership, enrollment, vision or financial stability ever since.

    Several Presidents have come and gone, however the most destructive President of HCHC was Metropolitan Methodios. He failed miserably as president and as he is an inadequate leader, causing nothing but division and contempt. He continues to meddle in the school affairs even now, years after he stepped down from his presidency. Several of the incompetent clergy who have been teaching at the school for decades have regular “private” meetings with Methodios on a regular basis so he can continue to sabotage the leadership at the school. His meddling has made progress at the school impossible to this very day.

    The real fact of the matter is that after decades of a College and Theological school, we have not progressed one bit! The reason, we keep hiring inept leaders with absolutely no experience in running an academic institution. The school should have a huge endowment and be growing. Instead, there is practically no endowment and we are once again facing destruction. The school continues to blame the Archdiocese for not supporting or increasing funding however at this point in its history, HC/HC should be able to sustain itself and the Archdiocese funding should be used for scholarships an growth.

    The Metropolitans and Clergy, who have all graduated from the school, should be required to be continual fundraisers and support the institution they supposedly love. Instead, they are more interested in complaining and doing nothing about it.. Their fundraising and concerns are “local” and they really don’t care about the institution of the Church or HC/HC. If they did, they would attend meetings and act like a Synod and not like a band of thieves.

    God help HC/HC and our Archdiocese. Hopefully we will see a complete cleansing of our institutions and new, experienced leaders will be found… the problem is .. from where ?

    1. What you say is true, all of it. Although not all clergy in the GOA are HCHC graduates but the great majority are. Also, Metropolitan Alexios and Bishop Sevastianos are neither graduates nor have any direct affiliation with the school. But here’s some icing on the cake. It has been rumored that several retired professors from HCHC have the ear of the archbishop to the extent that they rule the roost. Why? Because the archbishop has final and complete authority about the running of the school due to the fact that the by-laws give him veto power over all decisions of the trustees. If the archbishop doesn’t want it, it doesn’t happen. A good case in point is the desire of a majority of the trustees, and especially the executive committee, has asked for the dismissal of the HCHC president but the archbishop refuses. Why? Because he doesn’t want it to happen on his watch. God forbid someone should even think that he, the archbishop, made a mistake with this appointment. Meanwhile Rome is burning. The fact that the archbishop, whoever he might have been, has always had this power, is one reason the school has never grown into what it could and should be.

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