Analysis: A Good Beginning

His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America with the newly elected president of Hellenic College and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology George Cantonis. (Photo by HCHC)

As of last week the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, our School, has a new president, businessman George Cantonis from Florida.

The headline “A good beginning” that I chose for my reportage has a dual meaning: On one hand it is a wish for Mr. Cantonis to succeed in his position and on the other hand it signifies the developments that will follow because the School has reached a dire condition after all these years due to the inabilities …

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  1. All well and goo, Mr. Kalmoukos, as far as most of what you have said. But you ignore history. First, the school, as Holy Cross only and then as Hellenic College Holy Cross, has never been supported financially in a way that the Greek American Community, one of the most socio-economiclally successful groups in the US, is certainly capable of. This is not entirely due to succeeding administrations but rather more the fact that the Archdiocese has always had a stranglehold on the school. There is an inherent conflict of interest having the Archbishop automatically be the Chair of the Board of Trustees, as is mandated by the by-laws.

    Mr. Kalmoukos mentiions Dr. Thomas Lelon, who was President at one time and grew both schools but was fought every step of the way by factions inside and outside the school because these factions did not want the school to expand. And, of course, he was never supported financially, as well. But he made progress because he was the only person with experience in higher education administration, having been a dean at another college.
    The college and the school of theology should be separate entities, each with its own board of trustees. Each school must have its own dean. The college must expand its curriculum. The college must offer an education that enables its graduates to find jobs. Let’s face it, Greek studies doesn’t do that.

    Mr. Cantonis is a successful business man who will undoubtedly be wholly committed to the job. (cont’d)

  2. Hopefully he will be able to put the school on a firm financial footing. It’s about time that he and the trustees decide to look outside the school for academic leadership. Look for an Orthodox person (not necessarily Greek Orthodox) who has experience as an administrator in an institution of higher learning to be provost, being responsible for all things academic in order to free up Mr Cantonis for fund raising and overall responsibility for the direction of the school. And each school must continue to have its own dean. It will probably be best if the college dean is also recruited from outside, an Orthodox person who has experience in higher education administration. The college, if it is to survive, must look to making the educational experience appealing to Orthodox youth from all backgrounds, including converts, and not just Greek Americans. The school of theology is such a specialized entity that it will survive. But it should also grow, not just in numbers of students, but also in service to the greater community, with educational outreach to parishes.

    The Archbishop, Mr. Cantonis and the Board of Trustees have an exceptional opportunity to do the right thing and grow the two schools in many ways, not just keep it an idealized example of Hellenism.

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