More details are emerging about the discrimination against Dean Alexander Atty by the St. Tikhon’s Seminary Board of Trustees. While Dean Atty still serves the seminary, his contract has been altered so that he will not be returning as Dean for 2013. This is the latest blow to St Tikhon’s Seminary and may serve as it last opportunity to stay operational.
The Sons of Job has learned that at the Board Meeting of August 18-19, 2011, St. Tikhon’s organization hierarchy was changed to subordinate the Dean’s position to the Chair of the Board of Trustees (Bylaws and Board Minutes attached below). Bp. Tikhon served as Rector and President at the time.
Previously the Dean served as the Chief Operations Officer with full voting rights and reported only to the Rector of the Seminary who always is the presiding bishop. If no bishop filled the office, authority passes to the Dean. Under the new bylaws the Dean is no longer Vice President (the Board elects a Vice President) and reports solely to the Board Chairman and Rector. The Board of trustees used the occasion of Dean Atty’s hospitalization to make these changes to the contract under which he was hired.
In effect Dn. Atty becomes an employee of the seminary thereby requiring that his contract be renewed annually. He has already indicated that the Board has not retained his services for 2013 under the provisions of the contract that he agreed to when originally hired. His immediate directors have become Michael Herzak who serves as Chairman of the Board and Bp. Michael who serves as Rector and President.
The Minutes of the August 18-19, 2003 reflect this change:
…The Dean/COO directly reports to the Chair of the Board and of the Board and Rector and President of the Seminary and that the By Laws should be amended to reflect this motion.
The reason given for the change was Fr. Atty’s illness (cancer). Fr. Atty was not present during the meeting. The changes occurred under the direction and leadership of Bp. Michael who serves as Rector and President.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) of the US Government has determined that the Board of Trustees and Bishop Michael has committed an act of discrimination on the basis of illness when changes were made to remove Dean Atty from the seminary. If that proves to be the case, St. Tikhon’s faces severe financial penalties and puts its 501c3 status in jeopardy.
Sources close to the Board of Trustees report to the Sons of Job that Dn. Atty was challenging Herzak’s business relationship with the Seminary. Herzak sells insurance products to the seminary and has for many years. The sources allege that the only products the Seminary bought were those offered by Herzak and that no independent review of other products was ever made. Herzak has made no attempt to remove himself from the budgetary process, which then approves the expenditure for the very product he is selling.
These sources also report that other questionable practices have been uncovered at the seminary that will be reported in due course.
If the allegations that Dn. Atty’s contract was changed in part because of his concern of insider sweetheart deals, then Herzak, Bp. Michael and others are in clear violation of Article XIII of the Bylaws that states:
…A trustee shall be considered to have a conflict of interest if such Trustee has existing or potential financial interests, which impair or might reasonably appear to impair such member’s independent, unbiased judgment in the discharge of his responsibilities to the Institution.
The Bylaw further states:
…no trustee shall vote on any matter under consideration at a Board or committee meeting in which the board member has a conflict of interest.
If the seminary were to close all land and property would be given to the monastery, which explains the voting of its representatives on the Board of Trustees. Bishop Michael made the motion to adopt the bylaw and Fr. Sergius seconded. This constitutes two conflicts of interest as both would benefit in the removal of the Dean. The bylaw further states that two-week notice must be given for bylaw changes. This also was not done.
Dean Atty was originally hired based on his success as a parish priest taking a 200-member community and building it to over 1000. He has been active in building a senior citizen home, special needs home, a daily use chapel, and renovated all the buildings at the Seminary. Our sources describe him as dedicated, honest and above all transparent. Apparently that is not what we need in the OCA.
Dean Atty would offer no comment when phone calls were made to his office. We are hoping to hear from him sometime in the future.
Our sources in Syosset report that a private memo has been sent to all Board Members with instructions not to publicly discuss the impending EOCC suit. Syosset is worried that the reasoning behind the bylaw change is so transparently obvious that there is little chance they can win any suit the Federal Government may launch. At this stage it appears that even if Syosset manages to avoid a trial, the fines will be hefty and the rescinding of the non-profit status of St. Tikhon’s a distinct possibility.
St. Tikhon Seminary Bylaws (November 18, 1993 (pdf)
St. Tikhon Board Minutes Authorizing the Bylaw Change (August 18-19, 2011) (pdf)
The Sons of Job