Reductions, Changes and Dismissals Are Expected at Hellenic College & Holy Cross as Crisis Deepens

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

BOSTON – The administration of Hellenic College and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology will start implementing reductions and dismissals of personnel due to the dire financial situation of the institutions, The National Herald has learned. Directives were given to the President, Fr. Christopher Metropulos by the Board of Trustees during their meeting on January 25 presided over by Archbishop Demetrios according to a news release issued after the meeting.

TNH has also learned that there were have been some critical attacks from professors who are former deans against Fr. Metropulos. Presently there are at least three different factions at the School fighting each other while each tries to protect “its own people.”
Discussion took place at the Board meeting about the viability of Hellenic College and its possible elimination. Two opinion trends were manifested. One is in support of keeping Hellenic College, arguing that the priests who study at both Hellenic College and Holy Cross for seven years are better equipped than those who only study three years at the School of Theology. The other trend maintains that there are graduates who studied for seven years and were ordained but were still completely unprepared.

It is widely believed that the release which was issued after the Trustees meeting indicates a negative predisposition about the future of Hellenic College because it makes reference to the closing of small colleges in the United States.

The release states among other things that, “a full presentation on the state of the school was presented by Trustee committees as well as the President, Rev. Christopher Metropulos. This included, but was not limited to, the financial condition of the school as well as past and expected enrollments for the fall of 2019.”

It was also emphasized that, “throughout the United States, numerous small liberal arts colleges are facing closure or planning to close or to shutter programs in light of decreasing enrollment across the country. HCHC functions in this environment. The Trustees reiterated their commitment to the strengthening and growth of the school, but also directed the leadership of the school to ensure that we live within our means and offer programs which create and nurture future leaders for our Church and society.”

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

The announcement also stated that, “it was decided by the Trustees to authorize the administration to begin immediate modifications of the operating budget in order to strengthen the school’s mission and to bring about a more balanced budget. In addition, the Board of Trustees directed the President to form a committee of Trustees, Faculty, and Administration to seek new ways to strengthen the institution and re-imagine education on the Hill of Hope. Updates will be provided as plans take shape.”

It is reminded here that last year Archbishop Demetrios of America, who is also Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Hellenic College-Holy Cross School of Theology, dismissed most of the trustees and replaced them mainly with obedient priests and some laypersons. The dismissed Trustees had challenged both Archbishop Demetrios and Fr. Metropulos on accountability, because they could not defend the spending and the School’s dire financial situation.

In June of 2018, TNH published the entire contents of a confidential letter to Archbishop Demetrios by 11 Trustees, including some from the Executive Committee, warning that the College faced the danger of closure and the School of Theology of losing its accreditation, even as its own future was doubtful.

They wrote about “the very serious state of the institution” and requested Metropulos’ immediate removal: “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 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)

The letter’s authors revealed that, “The overall financial trend is alarming and is not sustainable. Over the three-year period, 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. 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.”

They emphasized the oversized faculty. “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.”

14 Comments

  1. So, what else is new? His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios continues to state all is well at Hellenic College and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. I guess just as good as the overall status of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America is! Lord help us and have mercy on us!

  2. Look, these guys—all sides, are in denial, deceit, and defeated. When they exhaust the last of the “endowments “, they’ll make a last ditch attempt to throw themselves at the mercy of the L100 remaining pot of gold.

    If the “ Greece Above All “ and “ Olympic Pizza Parlor” cash-in-a-rubber band guys are in control of the funds, it may work.

    Contemporaneously, assets have to sold—damn near everything.

    If all that fails, they can offer sainthood or “Equal to the Apostles” status, like they did to the late Angelopoulos who rebuilt the whole Phanar after a fire leveled the whole place.

    After that, it’s lights out.

  3. Sell HCHC property along with the Archdiocese and move everything to St Basils. There is plenty of land available and only a few children. Pride would be swallowed but financial security would be established.

  4. By now aren’t we sick of being lied to by the “Leaders of our Faith”?

    Here is what I wrote to one of those leaders that sums up our collective dysfunction:
    “1. HC/HC must be given autonomous status and independence if it is to grow and become successful. We as Greek Orthodox Christians claim to have one and a half million adherents in the United States. We have one affiliated institution of higher learning, HC/HC. The Quakers, for example, have less than 100,000 adherents in the United States. In fact, they have about 86,837 adherents. Yet, they have founded, operate or allowed to go fully autonomous 18 colleges and universities, including Bryn Mawr College, Haverford College, John Hopkins University, Swarthmore College and William Penn University, just to name a few. If we are being honest, in contradistinction, HC/HC is stagnant. Does this not trouble you and your brethren?”

    We opened Holy Cross in 1937. We opened Hellenic College in 1968. Compare that to Brandeis University that opened in 1948. Today they have about 3,600 Undergraduate students and about 2,000 Postgraduate students. 361 full time facility and 150 part time. Their endowments are approximately $976 Million Dollars. We, on the other hand have a near bankrupt institution with people lying to us. Our lay leadership, the so called “Archons”, “Leadership 100” (sadly, in reality they act in a manner that is the opposite of their name) and the Faith endowment are mainly composed of egomaniacal…

    1. Even the Mennonites have a college in Ohio. When was the last time you bumped into a Mennonite. Also, Hellenic College was founded in 1961 with the first class to be admitted under the 4 year college and 3 year school of theology programs. The entering class of 1962 was the first to go the seven years and get a BA and an MDiv, although the BA was delayed until 1968. That was the year that Hellenic College received preliminary accreditation to grant the BA. It is commonly thought the college was founded in 1968 because that was when accreditation was gained.

    2. repanidi1908 Thank you for the clarification about the founding date versus the accreditation data. An important correction. It does make it worse, the fact that they have had a longer period of time to effectively manage and grow the institution. Personally I hope they completely shut it down. The clergy graduates we get in the Metropolis of Chicago are generally “carriers” of the cult of Ephraim.

    1. Basil 320, one of the problems is that if a priest is conservative he tends to get lumped in with the Ephraimites. Most priests are rather liberal and many of the converts haven’t shed some of their subtle Protestant ways. For example, how many priests teach fasting on Wednesday and Friday? How many do the impossible and do a Matins service in 1 hour? How many talk about confession? It’s true that some things that go on associated with the Ephraimites are just not right. As for HCHC, the school of theology shouldn’ close. Most of the students aren’t Ephraimites, they are far too liberal. It’s a great campus with all that a good school needs. Close the college and make Holy Cross not just a aschool of theology but a seminary once again. One thing that can be done is to make the theology students more responsible and accountable. They need to be present 24/7, literally and figuratively. Nothing to distract them except academics and the spiritual life. But I don’t see that happening.

    2. repanidi1908, I am not, nor have I ever personally lumped conservative Priests with the Ephraimites. We have many conservative clergy in the Metropolis of Chicago who are not Ephraimites. Followers of the cult of Ephraim are a completely different “breed”. I can tell you that,because the Metropolis of Chicago overrun by Ephraim worshiping clergy, we have a high number of “spiritual sons” of infected clergymen going to our seminary. They come back and reek havoc in our Parishes. The support for our seminary by local Greek Orthodox adherents is nonexistent. People believe it has become a factory turning out clergymen spewing out heresies. Personally I think that it will close due to financial mismanagement no matter how you or I feel about it.

  5. There are those who know the difference and those who don’t. Student quality has been an issue for a while. I am curious though, about heresies. It’s one thing to espouse some of the strange practices that come from the Ephraimites and it’s quite another to be a heresy. So, the question remains. What to do with Holy Cross? Forget about the college. Close it as soon as possible. But where would priests come from? St. Vladimir’s? No way. Greece? Bad to worse. I once heard it proposed that anyone who wanted to be a seminarian should have to go through a series of in person interviews, on campus, over the course of several days, to hopefully get some sense of who they are. My understanding is that was rejected. Looks like the only solution is an outright revolution. But……the hierarchs……..

    1. The often strange and worse yet sometimes heretical teachings of the Ephraimites are a problem.

      I agree that the college must close ASAP. There is zero reason to keep it open, it is a failure. The more the men in Black ask for money to support failed initiatives such as Hellenic College or the St. Nicholas Shrine in New York, the less they are trusted by the laity. Here in Chicago, whether you like or support the new Metropolitan, or dislike him, all wallets are closed! People no longer want to be abused by our Hierarchs. They fail to understand that central to their role, as a Hierarch is to protect the Faith. On the issue of what to do with seminarians, how about if Leadership 100 and the Faith Endowment actually “LEAD” for a change and demands that there must now be autonomy for the seminary. Cut it away from the Church and not make it accountable or answerable to weak men. They are going to get talked into paying the bills anyway. Why not ask for radical change.

  6. Basil,
    What a great idea! Unfortunately, Leadership 100 and Faith Endowment seem to be there strictly for the betterment of the hierarchs of the Archdiocese. They wouldn’t dare think to go against the hierarchs. That would be their kiss of death. Let’s not kid ourselves, they are there to do as the hierarchs want.

    God forbid they think on their own and do what is proper and just. These groups seem to be “yes” people and cater to the hierarchs every whim, and to the so called elite. Sadly, in actuality, it seems to be a club disguised in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

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