Analysis: Painful Admissions about Holy Cross Theological School

The main administration building of Hellenic College and Holy Cross Greek-Orthodox School of Theology in one of the most prominent areas of Brookline Massachusetts. (Photo by TNH/Theodore Kalmoukos)

We have written about the dire situation at Hellenic College and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology recently and in the past. There are three reasons that I revisit the issue: 1) The recrudescence of the financial situation to the point that the school cannot even meet payroll and for this reason “secret” meetings and teleconferences are held about the possibility of leasing part of its real property. 2) The revelations made by Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco during …

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  1. Leadership 100 does not exist for the benefit of the Greek American community. It exists for the benefit of the Greek Orthodox church. Allowing the (new) archbishop to become chairman of the trustees will perpetuate one of the most glaring issues concerning the lack of growth at HCHC, namely that the archbishop, as declared in the by-laws of the school, automatically becomes chair of the trustees with absolute veto power. The school needs as president someone who has experience in higher education administration, experience gained at an institution other than HCHC. The Board of Trustees needs to be independent of the archdiocese and led by a chair who knows of the workings of boards of trustees at other institutions. If that’s a problem for the archdiocese and hierarchs (who all think they know how to run an institution of higher learning when in fact none of them do) then Holy Cross and Hellenic College should have separate boards of trustees but without the archbishop, whoever he might be, as chairman, even for the school of theology. Ironically, perhaps, is the fact that the school, both college and school of theology, experienced unmatched growth under the leadership of Dr. Thomas Lelon’s stint as president because he is the only president in the school’s history who had experience as an administrator in another institution of higher learning. His efforts were fought consistently by hierarchs and faculty who not only knew very little to nothing about growing a college and graduate school, but didn’t want it to grow, all of them preferring to be big fish in a little pond.
    The school was leasing the gymnasium and athletic field to Newbury College until Newbury’s recent closing.
    What else could be leased? Certainly not property for development. That idea has been shot down consistently, and rightly so, by the surrounding community.
    Closing Hellenic College will not save as much money as many people believe. It’s a big property, 52 acres, with many buildings that require a lot of upkeep. Look for the college’s closing, if it does, to knock no more than about 20-25% off the budget.

    A good example of waste and mismanagement is the construction of a bell tower adjacent to Holy Cross Chapel. Bell towers are not part of Orthodox tradition. Certainly the Church of the Holy Apostles, a 12th century Byzantine edifice in Athens, of which the Chapel is an excellent reproduction, does not have a bell tower. It would seem that the bell tower is being built because donors wanted one built and thus the present administration could point to the one million dollar donation as proof of doing good for the school.
    It is indeed a fine mess, years in the making, which, possibly, can be cleaned up in the future.

  2. What about millions spent on Iakovos Library? When this place folds and is sold, that’s lost as well. The GAO is the greatest group of losers ever assembled in one era, under one tent.

  3. Thanks to Mr. Theodore Kalmoukos for his work in publicly exposing the deep ills of the Archdiocese in the spiritual managing of the gems of Orthodoxy. I refer to HCHC which at this time is enveloped in severe financial constraints.

    And as an aspiring member of Leadership 100, I pray that this benevolent organization withhold any funds to HCHC and assist and until the schools clean up their bureaucratic mess by firing all personnel and making it independent as many Catholic universities have done. If necessary, let’s get outside assistance from those who have hard experience and knowledge on how to rebirth our beloved institutions.

    With the exception of Dr. Thomas Lelon, the schools have never had a president who knew how to manage and grow a university. We have had priests yes, hierarchy yes, and even Archbishop Demetrios, but no one who had the know how to do an excellent job. No reflection on our priests except that operating a university system requires professional experience.

    It seems that HCHC has become a refuge, a retirement center for elder academicians. It employs almost as many professors as it has students. Father Christopher Metropoulos, a fine priest, has been placed in a position he cannot conquer. The bureaucracy, the hierarchy, professors coming at him with requests read demands to keep on the payroll this or that person (s), blha, blha. Under these circumstances who would seek this kind of a job? The answer is the president should have few or no interference in the operations of HCHC.

  4. Fr. Chris “placed”in the position? No chance. He lobbied his koumbaro Lelon for the job thinking it would be a highly paid no show opportunity. When he realized he actually had to work and he had no idea how, it began to fall apart. Perhaps his two assistants ( yep – he’s got two ) can help get him out of this mess.

  5. Unfortunately, and sad to say, the Archdiocese is not fit to manage anything! They seemingly are successful in being a complete and total failure and its track record speaks for itself.

    The sad part is, in my humble opinion, first and foremost, it has failed as a “Church of Christ!”
    If it has failed at this, how can we possibly expect it to be successful at anything else?

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