BOSTON – Florida businessman George Cantonis was unanimously elected president of Hellenic College and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology at the meeting of the Board of Trustees on December 10 under the chairmanship of Archbishop Elpidophoros of America. The only one who voted against Cantonis was the interim President Metropolitan Methodios of Boston, because he wanted to remain permanently as President.
Methodios did not even go to the meeting in person despite living a very short distance from the School of Theology and not even five hundred feet from the Metropolis offices.
Archbishop Elpidophoros shortly after the completion of the meeting and the election of Cantonis made the following statement to The National Herald: “With great joy I ratified the decision of the Board of Trustees of our Theological School [to elect] Mr. George Cantonis to the presidency of the School. He is an exceptional person with deep faith and a spirit of diakonia and sacrifice for our Church. He has ecclesiastical ethos and exemplary respect for the clergy and the hierarchy. I think with this choice of the Board of Trustees and with such an overwhelming majority, a new era begins for our Theological School with changes which are necessary to be done, if we want to advance its level to where it deserves to be and where our faithful people want it.”
Cantonis was Vice-Chairman of the Board since last April after the ouster of Fr. Christopher Metropulos from the presidency and the subsequent departure of Thomas Lelon from the vice chairmanship.
It is noted here that Archbishop Elpidophoros, with the cooperation of George Cantonis, saved the at the last moment the academic accreditation of the school. Cantonis assumed full responsibility for communication with academic agencies as well as for the economic purging of the School, which was struggling in recent years as millions were taken from the endowment fund for operational expenses.
Cantonis succeeds Interim President Metropolitan Methodios. Attempts made behind the scenes by the interim Dean of the Theological School Fr. Thomas Fitzgerald – as The National Herald had revealed on October 31, 2019 – to secure the permanent appointment of Metropolitan Methodios of Boston as President, but they were not successful. Specifically, The National Herald had revealed that “Fr. FitzGerald sent a letter to His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros urging him to shut down the search committee seeking a new president and to appoint to the position Metropolitan Methodios, praising him for his gifts. He stressed the need for “stability” at the School.
Sources close to Fr. FitzGerald told TNH that he echoes, apparently, the opinion of a clique from the faculty and other employees who act as “advisors” to Methodios, and that FitzGerald spoke to the Archbishop during one of his visits to the School.
It is reminded here that Metropolitan Methodios had served in the past as president of Hellenic College and Holy Cross, but the late Archbishop Iakovos of America ousted him after the intervention of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. He returned to the administration of the School temporarily as interim president after the ouster of Fr. Metropulos.
From the many candidates who applied, the search committee settled on two finalists are evaluation process was concluded: Cantonis and Demetris Papacostas, both successful in their fields.
The National Herald learned that the faculties of both Hellenic College and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology voted in favor of Cantonis’ candidacy. Also, the members of Eparchial Synod during a conference call on December 9 under the presidency of Archbishop Elpidophoros gave their consent to Cantonis election with two exceptions, Metropolitan Methodios of Boston who kept silent, and Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey, who assumed the role of defender of Metropolitan Methodios regarding administrative issues that Cantonis was resolving; he was the only one present at the school all these recent tumultuous months who was working hard and agonizing about the dire situation of the School.
Biographical reports that Cantonis, “met privately with dozens of faculty, staff, and students over 5 months; worked closely with consultant and chair of strategic planning effort, Chair of strategic planning finance subcommittee; oversaw budget development and cash flow monitoring with management team, staff, [and with] great faculty cooperation, and Elaine Allen. From a $3.5 mil loss June ‘18, June ‘19 was slightly better than break even and budget for June ‘20 is positive. Actual financial performance through October is slightly ahead of budget projections.”
Additional biographical information follows:
“Cantonis was Born in Chicago, Illinois 1948. He has an AB from Princeton University, 1970, and an MBA, University of Chicago, 1972
BUSINESSES: President, Director – The Cantonis Company, Inc
Was responsible for strategic planning and finance for the holding company and its subsidiaries.
Exec. V.P., Director – Acme Sponge and Chamois, Inc.
Manufacturer and distributor of natural and synthetic sponges and chamois to the mass merchants, automotive and hardware chains, and the bath and beauty, hobby, and paint trades.
Managed chamois raw material purchasing, byproduct sales in Europe and Asia, cash flow, and strategic planning and logistics of distribution in Tarpon Springs, FL and manufacturing in Christchurch NZ and Izmir Turkey.
Oversaw the sale of both the chamois and sponge businesses in 2017-2018
President – MGC Hotel Group – West Palm Beach Corporation – 2 locations.
Fort Pierce Corporation
Palm Harbor Corporation
Led the entry into hospitality with the purchasing, finance, and operations of the hotels, and their subsequent sales.
Group focus was the purchase and turnaround of distressed properties.
Past Director – Madison Bank – Palm Harbor, Florida (acquired by Whitney Bank, 2005) (acquired by Hancock Bank, 2017)
Director – Michael G. Cantonis Foundation. He is an Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and a member of Leadership 100.”