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March 26, 2018

Allegations of Inappropriate Behavior Prompt Early Retirement for MassArt Professor

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS—Nicholas Nixon, a photographer and professor at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, has abruptly retired following allegations of inappropriate behavior, Andrew R. Chow reports for the New York Times. Nixon began teaching photography at the Boston art school in 1975, the same year he began work on his most well-know series of photographs, The Brown Sisters, which document his wife and her sisters over forty consecutive years. The series is currently the subject of an exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston.

The announcement was made in a March 22 email to students from MassArt president David Nelson. The letter states, “We recently received allegations of inappropriate behavior concerning photography professor Nicholas Nixon and determined that a Title IX investigation was warranted. Nick subsequently announced his decision to retire, effective March 2, 2018, and he is no longer in the classroom or on campus. The Title IX investigation, which is being conducted by an external consultant engaged by the college will continue to its conclusion.”

Nelson’s letter also encouraged students to report instances of inappropriate sexual behavior and pledged the school’s “commitment to helping change the culture of the professions in which [its] students and alumni work.” The ICA Boston said that it was “truly disheartened by this news and takes it very seriously” and would respond accordingly once more information became available.

In a statement to the Boston Globe, Nixon’s lawyer Bruce A. Singal said his client “has received notice that the college will conduct an investigation into reports that he allegedly made inappropriate comments in the presence of students and staff members. Nick has been widely known for a provocative teaching style in a creative art school environment that he believed was inspiring to his students.”

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