Archbishop Elpidophoros of America and his aides have suceeded in maintaining the accreditation of Hellenic College and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School Of Theology (HCHC), the Orthodox liberal arts college and theological seminary in Brookline, Massachusetts.
On Wednesday, the New England Commission on Higher Education (NECHE) voted to remove the probationary status HCHC had been under since December 10, 2019.
Academic, administrative and economic missteps in the past had led the institutions to an impasse and the danger of their losing the ability to bestow academic degrees was imminent. The reaffirmation of their accreditation had been one of Elpidophoros’ main goals when he assumed his duties in June 2019.
On learning of NECHE’s decision, Elpidophoros said, in an online message: “My heart is filled with joy upon hearing that HCHC is no longer on probation and is continued in accreditation. I especially want to thank the President of our beloved School, Mr. George Cantonis. His role in leading the movement to achieving this status through his service, dedication, and tireless hard work cannot be underscored enough. I also would like to thank the HCHC Board of Trustees, the Prime Minister of Greece, Mr. Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Leadership 100, and all the supporters and donors of our School who have helped make this a reality, so that we can continue to offer a high standard of excellence in education for the Greek-American omogeneia and for the future clergy and lay leaders of our Archdiocese.”
Mitsotakis got his mention for his decision to provide an annual subsidy of €2 million to the School of Theology.
HCHC President Cantonis, on his part thanked “His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, Chairman of our Board, Fr. Jon Magoulias, Vice-Chairman, and the entire Board of Trustees for believing in and supporting our leadership.”
In the fall of 2019, Cantonis, then Vice-Chairman of the Board of Trustees, along with two other officials, represented HCHC at a NECHE Show Cause Commission hearing to discuss HCHC’s status. The Commission subsequently placed Hellenic College, Inc., on probation for a period not to exceed two years. NECHE also reiterated its plan to undertake a fall 2020 site visit to HCHC.
“Since December 2019, when Cantonis became President, he and his team have worked closely with NECHE to address key issues. This entailed a disciplined approach to managing finances, improving the operation, and bolstering academics. HCHC produced multiple reports for NECHE and kept in close contact with them to demonstrate the School’s steady and continuous improvement,” according to a statement.
The site visit team reviewed many aspects of HCHC in October 2020 and produced a report citing concerns. From then until the beginning of February 2021, Cantonis led an effort to address the issues; this work culminated in a voluminous update report sent to NECHE on February 15, 2021, that detailed every facet of improvement in these areas and more.
“This report, together with the positive meeting on March 4, demonstrated that HCHC is on the road to financial, organizational, and academic planning recovery. The School was represented at the meeting by President Cantonis; Diana Demetrulias, VP for Academic Affairs; Dn. Gary Alexander, VP for Administrative Affairs; and Nick Papakyrikos, HCHC’s contracted CFO,” the statement says.