Demetrios Says There is No Problem at Hellenic College and Holy Cross

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, MA – Nothing substantial was accomplished at the Board of Trustees meeting of Hellenic College and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology (HCHC), convened on June 7 and chaired by Archbishop Demetrios of America.

The archbishop declared that all well and gave his full support to HCHC President Fr. Christopher Metropulos, though many Board members demand his resignation because they consider him responsible for the dire condition of the School regarding its finances, administration and reduction of enrollment.

The National Herald revealed that Archbishop Demetrios had admitted in the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate that the School doesn’t only have a financial problem but also “a leadership one,” making direct reference to Fr. Metropulos.

During June 7 meeting, Metropulos present his strategic plan for the “recovery” of the School and he said that funds will be raised.

Hellenic College will continue its operation next academic year, despite the small number of students. It was said that there are academic disciplines which one have one student unrolled but the School pays professors to teach just one student.

It was also said that the resigned Deans Demetrios Katos and Demetrios Skedros will continue to teach.

Fr. Metropulos assured everybone that everything will be just fine. He said that he spoke to the academic authorities regarding accreditation.

Efforts are made to place the blame of the financial and administrative problems on the previous administration under Fr. Nicholas Triantafillou, who was always on the run traveling all over the country, presumably to raise money for the School, but it seems that the results were poor.

It is evident that animosity has occurred for months now between several Board members and Metropulos, but the Archbishop supports him strongly, despite throwing him under the bus at the Synod.

TNH has learned that a good number of Trustees are thinking of resigning because they feel they have a fiduciary responsibility toward the Greek-American community and also legally, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

There are thoughts of breaking the restricted Endowment Fund to get money just to operate the School. They have already exhausted an existing Endowment because the School didn’t have money to even cover the payroll.

The archbishop did not permit a discussion on the confidential letter-report that the Herald recently revealed, that eleven members of the Board, including some from the Executive Council addressed to the archbishop on May 8.

They discussed how the confidential letter was obtained by TNH, because the clergy and the laity from around the country became alarmed when they read it.

It is reminded here that in the letter the trustees stated that “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.”

They also revealed that “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.”

Regarding the finances, the Trustees stated in their confidential letter that “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.”

7 Comments

  1. If Dr.Skedros (a man of integrity and faith) resigned, there is a huge problem at HCHC.
    His Eminence is having a Pontius Pilate moment again – “Truth” What is Truth?

    1. Let us not confuse Greek Orthodoxy and the administrative accountability of religious institutions. Two different issues.

  2. Well, it seems like the best defense is a good offense. Sure, trash the reputation of Fr. Nicholas Triantafillou so Fr. Metropoulos’ mess and the archbishop’s lack of leadership doesn’t look so bad. Yes, Fr. Nick travelled a lot, but not nearly as much as the current president. And he was more successful at fund raising than insinuated in the article. During his 15 years of leadership FDr. Nick raised about $50 million which not only kept the school afloat but provided scholarship relief for students. He also was a tremendous recruiter for the college and school of theology. But Fr. Metropoulos travels a lot, really a lot, and rumor has it that not all his travelling is for HCHC but also for OCN, which, according to his contract, he was supposed to give up. Does he still get a salary from OCN? Money has always been an issue for the school, primarily because it is an archdiocesan institution. Laity hesitate to donate in large amounts because they know the reputation of the archdiocese with money down over the years. Another problem is that the archbishop, whoever that might have been over the years since the school’s founding in 1937, has been the chair of the board of trustees, which is guaranteed in the by laws. What the archbishop wants, the archbishop gets. It is no secret that the majority of the trustees want Fr. Metropoulos removed but the archbishop refuses. He doesn’t want anyone to think he made a mistake with his choice, especially given the financial debacle at the archdiocese and St. Nicholas. Meanwhile Rome is burning and the powers that be move happily along. And since there is a shortage of money why not have the school make public the salaries of certain departments, especially the finance department, with its bloated personnel. You can’t expect to attract more students if you charge $40,000 a year and don’t have the academics in the college to make that kind of money worthwhile. As for the school of theology, anyone ever wonder why enrollment has fallen and more and more converts are enrolling as students in theology? Many Greek-American families discourage their sons from entering the priesthood because they see how priests are treated by the hierarchy and laity alike. As a serious archpastoral issue, parishes with 500 families should have 2 priests and larger parishes perhaps 3. Then you just might see growth instead of flight. But parishes can’t afford more clergy because of the annual assessment they must pay to the archdiocese. Sound like a financial broken record? For a start, it is time to demand the school’s by laws be changed and the archbishop no longer be the chair of the trustees. There are several trustees who could fill that position quite admirably. Then find the money to hire an Orthodox layman/woman who has experience in higher education administration to come in, clean house with a supportive board of trustees, and see if the school can grow. It’s time for those in charge to stop seeing the school as their little plaything as long as enough priests are produced.

  3. Father Nick left in 2015 so the attempt to disparage him is laughable and embarrassing. $7 million of losses in 3 years under the current president speaks to only one thing – his inability to lead. And to fire Drs Katos and Skedros is horrifying – what is the administration thinking?

    Close the college, hold current administration accountable for their incompetence, and save our seminary.

  4. I don’t know why that guy don’t realize that he ain’t God and let someone else try to fix the mess.
    Either way the man is too old to do the job he should realize that even if he was good on his younger days his mind is not in condition to run the church now. The only thing he may be able to handle is the recliner and rocking chair.

    1. It’s time to order a complete neurological work up for Demetrios. Perhaps, a guardianship petition, too, is appropriate after reviewing the results.

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