Letter to the Editor: On Hellenic College-Holy Cross 

To the Editor: 

 Re: “Hellenic College-Holy Cross Expectations (Gone Awry)” by Dan Georgakas (Jun. 23).   

I was Registrar and Director of Admissions from 1968-71 at Hellenic College (HC). I left a position at Northeastern University to go there. Other lay people left their college positions to go there, professors and administrators; I believe we were brought there just to get it accredited.  

After three years and accreditation, the laypeople were let go; a hardship. The clergy and some of the student body staged a “faux” strike. 

I never saw a serious attempt to turn HC into a viable institution – it was known at that time to only a few. We started to assemble a small student body. It appeared to be a good choice with 52 acres of land. Many Boston colleges would have loved having that type of facility, land wise. 

I believe the clergy there wanted to keep it a “private” club.  

Ironically, the Boston Celtics trained there. We brought them!  

We had a basketball team that gained a little notoriety. I got one of the players in Sports Illustrated “Faces in the Crowd.” People were starting to hear about the college.  

Anyway, there was no strong desire to develop HC. I anticipated a loss of accreditation a long time ago. I believe an opportunity was lost. 

A lot of small established colleges are phasing out due to today’s costs. It is time to move on. The concept of a Hellenic college is long gone. That situation pretty much ended my college administration experience, unfortunately. 

The seminary must survive as we need priests! If they keep the seminary, they have to teach the clergy how to speak better Greek. 

 William Pappas 

Weymouth Heights, MA 

7 Comments

  1. The school can be a viable institution but the current administration has been inept and closed. Trustees (of which I have been one for several years) used a lot of expertise from board members to try and work a viable solution for the school. All the efforts came to no avail and were ignored. The reason for this is not clear because it doesn’t make sense. After several attempts for action here are items in a letter dated April 11th, to his eminence from most of the trustees on the executive committee, which is supposed to meet monthly:

    ” • During the current academic year (Aug-present), all three Deans of HCHC have either left the institution (Fr. Belcher) or submitted their resignations effective at the end of June 2018 (Dean Skedros and, most recently, Dean Katos). In addition, our Director of Institutional Advancement, Kosta Alexis, resigned in December 2017. Thus nearly all of the Senior Managers have left or are leaving their positions. No searches have been planned to fill these core vacancies.

    • The December ‘16, Jan ‘17, Feb ‘17, April ‘17, Sept ‘17, Nov ’17, Jan ’18, Feb ’18, and Mar ‘18 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 EC meetings were held in July or August 2017. Thus, over the course of 20 months (Nov 2016-June 2018) a total of only 5 EC meetings have been held/are scheduled. According to our bylaws this should be 17. Only one meeting of the full Board (Jan 19, 2018) has been held over the past 11 months.

    • Our enrollment numbers are tracking behind last year’s numbers at this time, and last year’s numbers were sharply lower that projected (projected new students for Fall 2017 reported by Fr. Christopher to the Executive Committee in June 2018 = 85 students; actual new students for Fall 2017= 45 students). As reported by Fr. Christopher in his email on March 30. 2018, currently, HCHC has received deposits from only 4 students intending to enroll in Fall 2018; last year at this time, we had received 13 deposits. There is less than a month remaining before the national deadline for deposits at colleges and universities (May 1).

    • There has been no formal strategic planning during Fr. Christopher’s tenure as President. Developed strategic planning is a major part of accreditation review, and we will have a full site visit / review in Fall 2018.

    • As required by Fr. Christopher’s contract, a Presidential Evaluation/Review was to be conducted prior to the end of his 2-year contract. A committee was formed nearly one year ago, in May 2017, with Dr. Lelon appointed as Chairman. Despite the efforts of several committee members to proceed, the Committee has produced no evaluation.

    • To date, close to $9M has been borrowed from the “pooled accounts” of the Endowment, leaving only $2M of unrestricted funds. No plan for repaying these borrowed funds has been proposed, a point noted by our accreditation body, NEASC in their March 2018 report. The rapid and near-complete depletion of “pooled account” funds during the past three years is part of the reason a borrowing restriction was put in place, through a unanimous vote of the full Board in a face to face meeting on January 19, 2018, until a “recovery plan” is presented to the full Board, vetted, and accepted. This recovery plan has not yet been presented.

    • Cancelation of the March 20th meeting did not preclude Fr. Christopher from, at least, sending us all the details of his plan so that we could begin the review process. He did not invite the chairs of the major Board committees to collaborate on developing a “recovery plan.”

    • Furthermore, the lack of sufficient cash to make this week’s payroll, which prompted the last minute request for a special meeting tomorrow, has been a looming reality for months. Fr. Christopher and Dr. Lelon chose not to inform the full Board of the severity of the financial situation.
    As volunteers who accepted the invitation to serve on the HCHC Board of Trustees, we are motivated—first and foremost—by our commitment to Christ and to the Greek Orthodox Church in America. Our second commitment is to fulfill the fiduciary responsibility that comes with accepting a position on the board of HCHC Inc., a responsibility we share with all of you.

    We hope these facts will help guide us to protect the life and future of HCHC.”

    Many exemplary and knowledgeable educators on the executive committee have since resigned.

  2. Wow – is this true? Did the school really come close to missing payroll? Are students aware of this, especially the Hellenic College kids? Why would any non- seminarian attend this looming train wreck?

  3. Teach them Greek, are you serious? This is America, wake up and smell the flowers, teach them how to Evangelize, teach them Homiletics, Teach them how to relate to Our Country!!!!

  4. The board of trustees needs to be more independent. The chair of the board of trustees should not be the archbishop. And if the college survives the college should have its own board of trustees without any clergy members. The archdiocese, and the Greek-American community for that matter, have never seriously thought of the value of Hellenic College as an expression of the kallos of ancient Greece and the Orthodox faith as a beacon set upon the hill in Brookline. There has always been a lack of emotional support, certainly a lack of financial support and most certainly the disposition of the heirarchy and faculty to keep the institution small and parochial.

  5. repanidi1908, your wise proposals are too professional and adhere too much to proper accounting and administrative procedures for the GOA to ever consider seriously.

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