The Juilliard School has fired a composition professor accused of sexually harassing students after an independent investigation found “credible evidence” that he had engaged in misconduct, the school said in a letter to students, staff, faculty and alumni on Thursday.
Juilliard said the professor, Robert Beaser, 69, who served as chair of the composition department from 1994 to 2018, had behaved in a manner that was “inconsistent with Juilliard’s commitment to provide a safe and supportive learning environment for its students.” The school did not elaborate, saying only that the investigation had found evidence of a past “unreported relationship” and that Beaser had “repeatedly misrepresented facts about his actions.”
Richard C. Schoenstein, a lawyer for Beaser, denied that his client had misled his employer. He said the relationship in question took place three decades ago, had been known to Juilliard since then and had been the subject of previous inquiries. He called the school’s findings “unspecific and unattributed” and said that Beaser would “pursue his legal rights in full.”
“Dr. Beaser is shocked and dismayed by Juilliard’s conclusions and actions,” Schoenstein said.
The inquiry was ordered after an investigation in December 2022 by VAN, a classical music magazine, that detailed accusations against Beaser and other Juilliard composition teachers. VAN, citing interviews with unnamed former students, said that Beaser had made unwanted advances toward students and engaged in sexual relationships with them.
The accusations prompted an outcry among students, faculty and alumni, as well as prominent composers and musicians. Juilliard placed Beaser on paid leave during the inquiry.
Juilliard said that it had also looked into complaints against Christopher Rouse, another professor named in the VAN investigation. While the school determined that these allegations were also credible, it said that the complaints could not be fully investigated because Rouse had died in 2019.
In the letter on Thursday, Juilliard said administrators had previously investigated some of these accusations of sexual misconduct in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and again in the 2017-18 academic year. These investigations “were handled based on their understanding of the information provided at that time,” according to the school.
Juilliard said it had ordered the latest inquiry because of new information in news reports, and that the investigation had determined that “some students, especially women, experienced an environment in the department that did not live up to the school’s values and expectations.”
Juilliard’s leaders said they were “dismayed by the negative impact” the events had on students at the time. They vowed to strengthen oversight, with measures including banning all sexual relationships between students and professors, beginning this fall. While professors have long been barred from having romantic relationships with undergraduates, the school has sometimes made exceptions for relationships between faculty members and graduate students.
Juilliard said it would also seek to clarify channels for reporting harassment and bias.
“Juilliard is committed to providing a safe, supportive and welcoming environment for all members of our school community, and to addressing concerns past and present,” the letter said. “No form of discrimination or harassment is tolerated, and we take all allegations reported to us seriously.”