EDITOR’S NOTE (Nick Stamatakis): In a letter dated January 14, 2022, addressed to HCHC President Mr. George Cantonis, the New England Commission of Higher Education accepted the report submitted by HCHC last year and recognized the progress made by the School. As a result of the progress, including the enrollment of 110 students (which fell short of the projections), and the Strategic Planning for the School. Because of this progress, the Commission decided to remove the Notation that the School is in danger but replaced it with a “Notice of Concern” which gives the Commission ample authority to oversee the planning for HCHC in the months and, possibly, years ahead.
But the big news comes towards the end of the 4-page letter where the Commission announces the sale of excess real estate owned by the Scholl and states: To achieve its goal to become debt-free, Hellenic College plans to “repay all remaining internal and external borrowing with the monetization of its land.” With respect to the sale of excess real estate, we are aware that proposals were received from potential buyers this past spring and that the institution expects to “begin negotiations on a sale during the first quarter of 2022.” We look forward to learning, through the Fall 2022 self-study, of the College’s success in finalizing the sale of its excess real estate with an emphasis on how the proceeds were used to strengthen the institution.
Helleniscope has noted in the past that the value of this real estate (59 acres!!) in the most valuable area of Boston, Brookline, Massachusetts is extremely high. Our sources calculate that the two pieces of land could likely sell for up to $500 million!!.. However, we are not certain regarding the obligations (mortgages, liens, etc); but we can estimate that they are a rather small fraction of the possible total value of the property. We will be updating our audience on those in the weeks and months ahead…
At the end of the letter, the Commission encourages HCHC’s president “to share this letter with all of the institution’s constituencies”, adding that after the Archbishop is notified in a few days the letter will become public information according to the laws of the State. As far as Helleniscope knows, this sharing never happened. For one more time, the leadership of GOARCH chose to follow their Neo-Ottoman habits instead of applying transparency to all of their institutions…
YOU CAN SEE THE LETTER HERE HELLENIC COLLEGE REAL ESTATE EXCESS PROPERTY FOR SALE
AND YOU CAN ALSO READ IT BELOW:
NEW ENGLAND COMMISSION OF HIGHER EDUCATION
January 14, 2022
Mr. George M. Cantonis
Hellenic College, Inc.
50 Goddard Avenue
Brookline, MA 02445
Dear President Cantonis:
I write to inform you that at its meeting on November 18, 2021, the New England
Commission of Higher Education considered the report submitted by Hellenic College,
Inc. and took the following action:
- that the report submitted by Hellenic College, Inc. be accepted;
- that the Notation that the institution is in danger of being found not to meet the
standard on Planning and Evaluation be removed and replaced with a formal
Notice of Concern;
- that the Notation that the institution is in danger of being found not to meet the
standard on Institutional Resources be affirmed;
- that the distance education review report scheduled for consideration in Spring
2022 be confirmed;
- that the comprehensive evaluation scheduled for Fall 2022 be confirmed;
- that, in addition to the information included in all self-studies, as well as the
matters specified in our letter of March 29, 2021, the self-study prepared for the
Fall 2022 comprehensive evaluation give emphasis to the institution’s progress
in addressing the matters that led to the Notice of Concern for Planning and
Evaluation and the Notation for Institutional Resources, and to its success in:
- 1. accomplishing the goals of its Strategic Plan 2021-2026 with attention to
developing plans to achieve the institution’s enrollment and financial goals
and finalizing the Academic Plan;
- 2. completing the sale of excess real estate with emphasis on how the proceeds
were used to strengthen the institution.
- The Commission gives the following reasons for its action.
- The report submitted by Hellenic College, Inc. was accepted because it was generally
responsive to the concerns raised by the Commission in its letter of March 29, 2021.The Commission acknowledges the report by Hellenic College, Inc. (HCHC) and welcomes the news of the institution’s continued progress to improve its financial stability. We support the initiatives being implemented to grow enrollment that in Fall 2021 totaled 110 FTE (undergraduate College, 38 FTE; School of Theology, 72 FTE) after the decision was made to again offer classes online to accommodate remote learners. These plans include developing a network of regional admissions representatives, new scholarships, and launching a Youth Camping Strategy in Summer 2022. We are also pleased to learn that several positions were added to “enhanc[e] the senior administrative team with … new qualified professional staff,” in particular the hiring of a
Director of Finance to serve as the institution’s CFO, as well as a Vice President of Academic Affairs, Vice President of Advancement, Director of Institutional Research and Assessment, and Director of Compliance and Equity.
- The Commission removed the Notation that the institution is in danger of being found not to meet the standard on Planning and Evaluation because the progress made over the past year provided sufficient evidence HCHC has made strategic planning a priority and that a public statement is therefore no longer warranted. While delayed by COVID, work to complete the institution’s Academic Plan (Honoring Our Past + Realizing Our Future) continued via Zoom with the full involvement of the faculty, and the plan was scheduled to be presented to the Board for approval in December 2021. We understand that this work involved both an examination of current programs and the generation of new program ideas that include offering School of Theology programs in online and hybrid delivery formats and, to address low-enrollment College programs, “a new approach to marketing and recruitment with increased urgency.” We also commend HCHC for the development of its Strategic Plan 2021-2026: Achieving the Vision that was approved by the Board in June 2021 following a three-year community-wide process led by the Strategic Planning Steering Committee. As reported by the institution, the plan’s “deliverables, with implementation dates, will be refined during the implementation phase of the strategic plan. ”A financial plan to determine the required investment needed to accomplish these deliverables and their resulting impact on the institution’s financial health was not included. As a result, a formal Notice of Concern was issued so that the Commission can continue to monitor HCHC’s work to ensure its compliance with our standard on Planning and Evaluation.
- We note with approval Hellenic College’s positive FY2021 financial results. Aided by $2.6
million in funding from the Archdiocese and $6.3 million of net assets being released from restrictions, the operating surplus grew to $3.4 million (from $1.4 million in FY2020). Going forward, HCHC has projected balanced budgets through FY2026 assuming “increased enrollment, increased unrestricted annual giving, and income from the endowment” that in FY2021 had grown to nearly $35.0 million (from $28.6 million in FY2020) as a result of $4.0 million in contributions and $3.9 million in investment returns. However, as recognized by the institution, enrollment growth remains a key element of its plan to achieve financial sustainability, and we therefore are concerned that Fall 2021 FTE fell short of its projected range of 120-132. And even though
endowment borrowing decreased in FY2021 from $7.6 million to $4.0 million, HCHC’s financial flexibility continues to be limited with negative net assets without donor restrictions of $2.1 million and the institution’s plans to fully repay amounts borrowed from the endowment yet to be realized. Therefore, to enable the Commission to continue to monitor Hellenic College’s progress in executing its plans, the Notation that the institution is in danger of not meeting our standard on Institutional Resources is affirmed.
- As requested in our letter of February 8, 2021, the report scheduled for consideration in Spring 2022 giving emphasis to the institution’s success in offering and assessing its current distance education courses and academic programs is confirmed.
The scheduling of a comprehensive evaluation in Fall 2022 is consistent with Commission policy requiring each accredited institution to undergo a comprehensive evaluation at least once every ten years. In addition to the information included in all self-studies and the items specified for attention in the Commission’s letter of March 29, 2021, the College is asked to give special emphasis in the self-study prepared for the Fall 2022 comprehensive evaluation to its progress in addressing the matters that led to the Notice of Concern for Planning and Evaluation and the Notation for Institutional Resources. In addition, the institution is requested to report on two matters related to our standards on Students, Planning and Evaluation, The Academic Program,
and Institutional Resources.
- As noted above, Hellenic College has begun to implement its Strategic Plan 2021-2026, and we understand Strategic Financial Planning and Enrollment Planning continue to be integrated “to ensure that financial and enrollment numbers are sound … [so that] the School has the necessary resources to fulfill its mission and planning goals.” We note positively that the Strategic Planning Committee of the Board and the President’s Cabinet will monitor progress toward achieving the plan’s deliverables on a regular basis. At the same time, Board approval of the Academic Plan is anticipated in December 2021. As expressed in our standards on Students, Planning and Evaluation, The Academic Program, and Institutional Resources, the Fall 2022 self-study will enable the institution to provide evidence that it is accomplishing the goals of its Strategic Plan, with attention to developing plans to achieve the institution’s enrollment and financial goals and
finalizing the Academic Plan:
- Consistent with its mission, the institution sets and achieves realistic goals to enroll
students who are broadly representative of the population the institution wishes to serve
(Students, Statement of the Standard).
- The institution demonstrates its success in strategic, academic, financial, and other resource planning and the evaluation of its educational effectiveness (Planning and Evaluation, Statement of the Standard).
- Planning and evaluation are systematic, comprehensive, broad-based, integrated, and
appropriate to the institution (2.1).
- The institution plans beyond a short-term horizon, including strategic planning that
involves realistic analyses of internal and external opportunities and constraints. The
results of strategic planning are implemented in all units of the institution through financial, academic, enrollment, and other supporting plans (2.3).
- The institution has a demonstrable record of success in implementing the results of its
- The institution undertakes academic planning and evaluation as part of its overall planning and evaluation to enhance the achievement of institutional mission and program objectives. These activities are realistic and take into account stated goals and available resources. Additions and deletions of programs are consistent with institutional mission and capacity, faculty expertise, student needs, and the availability of sufficient resources required for the development and improvement of academic programs. The institution allocates resources on the basis of its academic planning, needs, and objectives (4.7).
- The institution’s financial planning, including contingency planning, is integrated with
overall planning and evaluation processes. The institution demonstrates its ability to
analyze its financial condition and understand the opportunities and constraints that will
influence its financial condition and acts accordingly. It reallocates resources as necessary to achieve its purposes and objectives (7.14).To achieve its goal to become debt free, Hellenic College plans to “repay all remaining internal and external borrowing with the monetization of its land.” With respect to the sale of excess real estate, we are aware that proposals were received from potential buyers this past spring and that the institution expects to “begin negotiations on a sale during the first quarter of 2022.” We look forward to learning, through the Fall 2022 self-study, of the College’s success in finalizing the sale of its excess real estate with emphasis on how the proceeds were used to strengthen the institution. Our standard on Institutional Resources provides this guidance:
- The institution preserves and enhances available financial resources sufficient to support
its mission. It manages its financial resources and allocates them in a way that reflects its mission and purposes. It demonstrates the ability to respond to financial emergencies and unforeseen circumstances (7.4).
- The Commission expressed appreciation for the report submitted by Hellenic College, Inc. and hopes that its preparation has contributed to institutional improvement. It appreciates your cooperation with the effort to provide public assurance of the quality of higher education.
- You are encouraged to share this letter with all of the institution’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 Archbishop Elpidophoros of America. The institution is free to release information about the report and the Commission’s action to others, in accordance with the enclosed policy on Public Disclosure of Information about Affiliated Institutions.
- If you have any questions about the Commission’s action, please contact Lawrence M. Schall,
President of the Commission.
George W. Tetler
cc: His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America
Enclosure: Public Disclosure of Information about Affiliated Institutions