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Accrediting bodies render decision on Hellenic College/Holy Cross

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Jun 24, 1998

GREEK ORTHODOX ARCHDIOCESE OF AMERICA

8-10 East 79th St.

New York, NY 10021

Tel: (212) 570-3500 Fax: (212) 570-3569

web: http://www.goarch.org

e-mail: archdiocese@goarch.org, observer@goarch.org

Contact: Press Office

PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release:

June 24, 1998

Accrediting Bodies Render Decision on Hellenic College/Holy Cross

NEW YORK.- The Archdiocese of America announces today that the accrediting agencies for Hellenic College/Holy Cross the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada (ATS) and the New England Association of Schools & Colleges, Inc. (NEASC), which had conducted a joint focused site visit to the School in response to a formal complaint lodged against the School, have issued rulings supporting the continued accreditation of the Institution.

Both agencies, citing historical problems and deficiencies in the School’s institutional documents, the bylaws, and policies and procedures manual, have asked that the School embark on a six month review and clarification of these instruments, in order to bring them further in line with accepted accrediting standards.

The rulings are of ATS and NEASC are consistent with the ongoing relationship between these agencies and the School. Highlighting that “the policies and procedures themselves are flawed as bases for effective institutional governance in keeping with the institution’s mission” (NEASC finding) and noting that “[d]uring the period within which the warning sanction is in force, the institution’s accredited status is affirmed” (ATS Procedures Related to Membership Accreditation VI.F.3., emphasis added), the period of six months will be constructively used as an opportunity to clarify the institutional documents of HC/HC. The School welcomes these rulings as being constructive admonitions and an opportunity to address long-standing institutional issues with ATS and NEASC.

In the spirit of full disclosure and openness surrounding the complaints made about the School, the Archdiocese is releasing the texts of each agency’s decisions, which were addressed to the president of the HC/HC, His Eminence Metropolitan Isaiah. It should be noted that even though both accrediting agencies coordinated their respective responses to the complaints, the decisions of each agency are independent. Furthermore, although the ATS does not publish warning status rulings, the Archdiocese is releasing the full text of the ATS decision, in the aforementioned spirit of full disclosure. Upon learning of the decisions of the agencies, His Eminence, Archbishop Spyridon said:

“I am pleased to report that the accreditation will not be affected in any adverse way by the actions of either body. On the contrary, the dialogue between the School and the accrediting bodies, necessitated by the complaints, has led to an illumination of some problems that still remain in the institutional documents and practices of the School. The weaknesses noted by the accrediting bodies concern the very issues surrounding last summer’s administrative and faculty changes. We owe a debt of gratitude to both agencies for their professional standards of fairness and their willingness to cooperate with the School to improve our methodology of operation.

We have been formally asked by both agencies, in a professional and collegial way, and in accordance with each agency’s standards and practices, to work over the next six months to review, clarify, and as a result of the review, make any necessary changes to the School’s bylaws and formally-adopted institutional policies regarding employment of faculty, particularly the definition in these documents of the relationship between ecclesiastical authority and institutional authority. This process of review, which relates to organization and governance issues, as well as faculty appointments, will address issues that have been present for many years and will require the full participation of the Board of Trustees, Board of Corporate Members and faculty of our Institution. We can only hope that the substantive dialogue we have commenced with these agencies will proceed favorably for the benefit of Hellenic College and Holy Cross, our two most important national institutions.”

A copy of the full text each of the NEASC and ATS decisions is attached to this press release.

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NEW ENGLAND ASSOCIATION OF SCHOOLS & COLLEGES, INC

COMMISSION ON INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER EDUCATION

JUNE 19, 1998

His Eminence Metropolitan Isaiah

President

Hellenic College Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology

50 Goddard Avenue

Brookline, MA 02146

Dear Metropolitan Isaiah:

I write to inform you that at its meeting on June 12, 1998, the Commission on

Institutions of Higher Education voted to take the following action relative to the

complains made against Hellenic College Holy Cross Greek Orthodox

School of Theology: that action be deferred on consideration of a motion to ask Hellenic College Holy Cross Greek Orthodox

School of Theology to show cause why it should not be placed on probation; that the institution submit a

report on February 1, 1999, demonstrating that it has in place policies and procedures for the effective

governance of the institution in keeping with the Standards for Accreditation; that the institutional

leadership be invited to meet with the Commission at its March 4-5, 1999 meeting as a part of its consideration of

the institutional report.

The Commission gives the following reasons for its action. While the Commission found the institution not to

fulfill several of the Standards for Accreditation, as outlined below, which would justify asking Hellenic College

Holy Cross to show cause why it should not be placed on probation, it also noted that the institutional leadership has given

evidence that it recognizes the urgent need to undertake a careful review of its governance documents and their implementation, both at the board and

administrative levels, this activity being energized by the events of recent months. It is our understanding that this review has begun and will be completed

in the months ahead. In acknowledgement that this effort reflects an apparent desire on the part of the institution to move away from a confrontational mode to one which honors the principles of self-regulation, and wishing to follow the most direct route to institutional conformity with its criteria, the Commission has chosen to defer action on any consideration of probation. Although we believe that our confidence in the institution’s desire and ability to address comprehensively its governance situation is justified, it must be noted that failure to effectively respond to our concerns will lead to an adverse action.

In our action of September 26, 1997 calling for a fact finding visit to the institution, the Commission sought additional information regarding Hellenic college Holy Cross’ fulfillment of several Standards for Accreditation. Based upon the results of that visit and our consideration of the original complaints, together with additional materials provided by the institution, we find that Hellenic College Holy Cross does not fulfill the following criteria:

The authority, responsibilities, and relationships among the governing board, administration, staff, and faculty are clearly described in a constitution, by-laws, or equivalent document, and in a table of organization that displays the actual working order of the institution. The board, administration, staff, and faculty understand and fulfill their respective roles as set forth in the institution’s official document. The institution’s system of governance involves the participation of all appropriate constituencies and includes regular communication among them (Organization and Governance, 3.2).

The faculty assures the academic integrity of the institution’s educational programs. Within the context of the institution’s system of governance, the faculty is accorded the right and exercises its responsibility to provide a substantive voice in matters of educational programs, faculty personnel, and other aspects of institutional policy that relate to its areas of responsibility and expertise (Organization and Governance, 3.7).

The institution employs an open an orderly process for recruiting an appointing its faculty members. Faculty participate in the search process for new members of the instructional staff (Faculty, 5.4).

Essentially, we conclude that the institution has not adhered to its governance policies and procedures in taking certain personnel actions in the Summer of 1997. The Commission makes no judgement as to the appropriateness of the actions themselves, but rather our concerns relate to their implementation. We also find that the policies and procedures themselves are flawed as bases for effective institutional governance in keeping with the institution’s mission. Among other things, their defectiveness is evidenced by the various and conflicting interpretations that can be given to them by reasonable people. The Commission also wishes to acknowledge that this circumstance, both in terms of practice and policy, has existed over some period of time predating the current board leadership.

As indicated, the Commission notes with considerable favor that the institution has recognized the need to undertake a thorough review of its governance documents. Doing so is in keeping with our standard on Organization and Governance which stipulates that &qout;The institution periodically evaluates the effectiveness of its system of governance using the results for improvement.&qout; (3.9). The institution, we assume, seeks through this activity, as expressed in our standards, to put in place

a system of governance that facilitates the successful accomplishment of its mission and purposes. Through its organizational design and

governance structure, the institution creates and sustains an environment that encourages teaching, learning, scholarship, and where functioning of each organizational component (3.1), and one which otherwise fulfills the Commission’s criteria, in particular those cited above.

We urge that as you undertake this effort you seek the assistance of the Commission’s staff and that of the Association of Theological Schools.

It is important that this review be fundamental and searching seeking to explicitly address a number of critical issues. Chief among these is the need to clarify the role and place of ecclesiastical authority within the governance of the institution. This is admittedly a difficult, but we believe not an

impossible, task given the need to preserve the institution as an instrument of the Greek Orthodox Church, which we

recognize and accept, while also wishing to safeguard accepted values and practices of American higher

education. Of particular concern here is the place and role of priests as faculty and administrators. Here there is a need to

be mindful of the related issue of academic freedom. However, in calling attention to its importance, we wish to

merely suggest it significance in any academic community rather than draw any conclusions regarding its observance

at Hellenic College Holy Cross.

We also ask that the institution give its attention to the need to seek greater separation and balance between the policy making functions of the board and their administrative implementation. At issue here is the role of the board chairman in the day-to-day affairs of the institution, a matter

not unrelated to the issue raised in the previous paragraph, as well as the functioning of the presidential office. In

addition, it is necessary to clarify the respective roles and ensure the proper functioning of the Board of Corporate

Members and the Board of Trustees.

More broadly, a goal of this review of institutional governance should be clarity, consistency, and

comprehensiveness in any resulting policies and procedures as well as consensus about and commitment to

their content. To this end, and in keeping with the Standards for Accreditation, the review process should be

participatory. We look forward to reviewing the result of this effort at our March meeting.

The Commission expressed appreciation for the report submitted by Joel C. Martin on behalf of the joint CIHE/ATS

visiting committee. It also welcomed the opportunity to meet Mr. John Mavroudis whose candor and directness were

refreshing and productive. That he conveyed a relationship with the institution, as well as an appreciation of the

Commission’s concerns, speaks to our willingness to engage in a process based upon encouragement and

self-regulation rather than censure and compulsion. We trust that our confidence is not misplaced.

You are encouraged to share this letter and the team’s complete report with all of the College’s constituencies. It is

Commission policy to inform the chairperson of the institution’s governing board of action on its accreditation

status. In a few days we will be sending a copy of this letter to His Eminence Archbihsop Spyridon. The institution is free

to release information about the evaluation and the Commission’s action to others, in accordance with

Commission policy.

In keeping with Commission policy, the complainants, Valerie Karras and John Collis, will be informed of this

action.

If you have any questions about the Commission’s action, please contact Charles M. Cook,

Director of the Commission.

Sincerely,

Adrian Tinsley

AT/scf

Cc: His Eminence Archbishop Spyridon

Visiting Team

Dr. Daniel O. Aleshire

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The Association of Theological Schools

IN THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA

10 Summit Park Drive * Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 152751103 * 412-788-6505 * Fax 412-788-6510

Website: www.ats.edu * E-mail: ats@ats.edu

June 16, 1998

His Grace Bishop Isaiah, President

Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of theology

50 Goddard Avenue

Brookline, MA 02146

Dear Bishop Isaiah:

The ATS Commission on Accrediting met in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in May 1998, and included on its agenda consideration of the complaint filed by Dr. Valerie Karras in regard to Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology.

The Commission carefully reviewed the following resources regarding the complaint filed by Valerie Karras against the School: the July 1997 complaint, the August 1997 letter from ATS summarizing the complaint and requesting a response from the School of Theology, the August 1997 letter of response from the School, the “Amended and Comprehensive” response submitted by the School in May 1998, the report of the ATS/NEAS&C; joint fact-finding visit conducted in May 1998, and the letter from Metropolitan Isaiah about the visiting committee’s report. In addition, in its morning session on May 29, the Commission received John Mavroudis, General Counsel to the Archdiocese, who reviewed the School’s response to the complaint and addressed issues in the visiting committee’s report, particularly what he identified as “material errors.” The Commission also noted, for the record, that the “Interim Report” to which Mr. Mavroudis referred in his comments was prepared for the received by the New England Association, and that it was not requested, received, or acted upon by the ATS Commission.

The complaint of Dr. Karras stated that the Rev. Dr. Alkiviadis Calivas had been removed from his position as President of Hellenic College and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology by Archbishop Spyridon on July 1, 1997; that two other priests in the institution, Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Clapsis and Rev. Dr. George Papdemetriou, were notified on or about the same date that their contracts at Hellenic College/Holy Cross would not be renewed and that they were to be reassigned to parishes; and that these actions were &qout;violations of the school’s Corporate Bylaws, its Policies and Procedures Manual, and several of the standards of accreditation of both the New England Association of Schools and Colleges and the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada, especially under the standards for governance and faculty.”

After its review of the materials listed above and its discussions, the Commission arrived at several conclusions on the basis of the information presented. First, as requested, the fact-finding committee presented information about several personnel actions: Fr. Calivas, a member of the institution’s faculty and administration since 1978, was appointed as its president in January 1996, and effectively removed from this office by Archbishop Spyridon on July 1, 1997, an action formally confirmed by vote of the Board of Corporate Members on August 13, 1997; Fr. Clapsis, a ranked but untenured member of the faculty since 1985, was reassigned; and Fr. Papdemetriou, who had served as Director of the Library and Associate Professor of Systematic Theology from 1981, was removed as Librarian in July 1997, but retained his position as Associate Professor. Second, these personnel actions reflect a sufficiently inadequate implementation of the school’s governing documents, as those documents were available and in force on July 1, 1997, that they constitute a failure to comply with ATS accrediting standards, specifically 6.1.5 and 8.3.3.1. Third, the Commission concluded that one critical factor contributing to this failure to comply with the ATS standards is that the governing documents of the school do not fully set forth nor provide sufficient guidance about the ways in which the ecclesiastical authority of the Archbishop is related to the institutional authority represented in the bylaws and formerly adopted procedures governing faculty promotion, tenure, dismissal, and faculty involvement in these decisions, and that these omissions are particularly evident in regard to clergy members of the faculty. The Commission concluded, moreover, that reasonable people can interpret and have interpreted the institutional documents of Hellenic College/Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology that relate to these personnel actions in more than one way. Finally, the Commission recognized that the personnel actions that occurred in summer 1997 have affected the work of the School of Theology, an accredited member of the ATS, but that faithful people who care deeply about their Church and its School differ on their perceptions of those effects.

On the basis of its conclusions, the Commission voted to place Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology on warning until January 1999. “Warning” is a status the Commission may impose when it “determines that an accredited institution has major inadequacies with regard to one or more standards.” As part of this action, the ATS procedures require the Commission to “describe its expectations regarding the changes necessary to meet the standards.” According to the Procedures, the Commission will, after the period of warning, “consider either removing the warning or authorizing a visit to determine if probation should be imposed.” (Cf. Bulletin 42, Part 3, p.15.)

The School of Theology must report to the Commission by January 15, 1999 with evidence that it has its reviewed, clarified, and a s a result of the review, made any necessary changes to the School’s Bylaws and formally-adopted institutional policies regarding the employment of faculty, particularly the definition in these documents of the relationship between ecclesiastical authority and institutional authority. The report should also provide information about the constituents who participate in the review process and the roles that they play. The ATS Commission will determine, on the basis of this report, either to remove warning or to authorize a visit to determine if probation should be imposed.

In taking this action, the Commission deliberated on the findings at considerable length, and sought to take an accrediting action that would be fair to the ATS standards of accreditation, sensitive to persons who have been affected by the events of last summer, and constructive for an ATS accredited institution. The Commission asked me, as staff, to convey its concern and hope for a remedy that strengthens the school and sustains its contributions to religious life in North America.

Sincerely,

[Signed]

Daniel O. Aleshire

Associate Executive Director

DA/sb

cc: Charles Cook

New England Association

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