Massachusetts College of Art and Design is conducting a Title IX investigation of former photography professor Nicholas Nixon, following “recent allegations of inappropriate conduct,” according to a letter the school’s president sent to faculty, students, staff and alumni on March 22. The letter gave no details.
Nixon, a celebrated photographer and 40-year veteran of teaching at MassArt, retired, effective March 2, when he was informed of the investigation. MassArt president David Nelson says the investigation of the allegations will continue, and is being carried out by “an external consultant engaged by the college.”
Title IX, a federal civil rights law, protects students in higher education from discrimination and harassment on the basis of sex. It also requires schools receiving federal funding to investigate allegations of discriminatory behavior, sexual harassment or sexual assault of students. In his letter, MassArt President Nelson wrote, “We take reports of any form of sexual harassment, inappropriate behavior, or misconduct seriously.” He added, “If you have experienced sexually inappropriate behavior at MassArt, or if you know of someone who has, please report it to us,” and promised to investigate and take action “to maintain a healthy living and learning environment at MassArt.”
MassArt did not respond to requests for comment.
A lawyer for Nixon told the Boston Globe, “Nick has been widely known for a provocative teaching style in a creative art school environment that he believed was inspiring to his students.” He said the investigation will determine “whether or not Nick made inappropriate comments in the classroom. In fairness, we hope the investigation can be completed before any conclusions are drawn.”
Nixon, 71, is best known for his series “The Brown Sisters,” in which he has photographed his wife and her sisters every year since 1975. He is represented by Fraenkel Gallery, and is currently the subject of a retrospective exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. Regarding the investigation of Nixon at MassArt, a representative of the museum told the Boston Globe, “We are truly disheartened by this news and take it very seriously. We do not currently have adequate information to fully understand the scope of these allegations.”
Nicholas Nixon Exhibition (2013)
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