Voithia - July 25, 1997

A Reply To Father Theodore Stylianopoulos

Father Stylianopoulos' reply to my posting is inaccurate in places and is shallow in its logic. Kindly allow me to respond here on behalf of myself and my siblings:

First of all, our father (Rev. Nomikos Michael Vaporis) did NOT "request" to be retired--he was FORCED to retire; that is, he was fired. To claim that he asked to be retired, as Father Stylianpoulos does, is patently absurd and disturbing. In fact, our father sought every possible means to overturn the decision of the former President, Father Calivas, to retire him against his will before resorting, in desperation, to a civil law suit. Our father loved the School and its students and devoted a great part of his adult life to it--he would be deeply saddened by the recent turmoil and all the bad publicity it has brought Hellenic.

While it is true that he was offered emeritus status, including office space, as Valerie Karras has patronizingly taken to remind me, the termination of his contract resulted in a drastic cut in income, the loss of his health insurance plan, and forced him to change doctors (no small thing for a man sick with a heart condition). According to Karras, for this he should have been grateful. Granting him the paliative of emeritus status would not have changed the fact that his retirement was forced. The effect of this act was to silence one of the lone dissenting voices at Hellenic College. My father was never a "yes man" and suffered no fools; this earned him the enmity of a small minority, but more importantly the love of many others. Better to live and die an honest man.

Father Stylianopoulos writes of the necessity of "observing the institutional policies and procedures which alone can be the foundation of a viable academic community free of arbitrary interventions." He still fails to understand that those very institutional policies are at issue and the source of most of Hellenic's problems. The policies and procedures of Hellenic College cannot violate federal law, which prohibits mandatory retirement at any age.

If any administration is free to make arbitrary policies in contravention to federal law, then what is to stop it from making rules to get rid of professors deemed undesirable? What is to stop an administration from excluding female professors from faculty meetings or forcing still-active scholars to retire based on any arbitrary decision? The argument that Hellenic does not have to obey federal law because it is a religious institution is also spurious--it accepts federal funds and must abide by federal law.

Perhaps more to the point is Father Stylianopoulos' equally shallow argument that our father should have been retired to make way for new faculty. Although others are more qualified to judge my father's contribution than we are, we believe that my father was one of the church's leading historians. He was an active scholar and editor of religious texts; in fact he was working on an upcoming volume on the neomartyrs during the Ottoman period the very morning he passed away. We don't believe that there was a more qualified teacher than he available to teach Modern Hellenism, Byzantine History, or History of the Patriarchate. The illegality of forcing him to retire aside, what sense did it make to replace him with someone without the same qualifications? It certainly did no justice to the students at Hellenic. They deserve the best education possible.

We are glad to see that Father Stylianopoulos acknowledges a relationshiop with our belated father. It is true that our families socialized (a very long time ago); that we have admiration and affection for his Presbytera and children; but this makes his decades-long antagonism towards our father all the more regrettable and disturbing.
We do agree with Father Stylianopoulos that a time of healing is necessary. The steps that Archbishop Spyridon has taken to resolve the turmoil at Hellenic College are positive and appropriate ones.

Constantine, Michael, John, and Theodora Vaporis


From Voithia staff: Having been told by Dr. V. Karras and Fr. Stylianopoulos that they have no further commetary on the matter for this address, Voithia does not seek further commentary on this topic.

[ Voithia - - July 25, 1997 ]