Cleveland Institute of Music dismisses Title IX complaints against conductor
The Cleveland Institute of Music has completed its investigation of a professor accused of inappropriate behavior. The school had no comment on the allegations surrounding Carlos Kalmar, principal conductor and director of orchestral studies and the conducting program. In May, the school asked students to come forward if they had witnessed or experienced sexual harassment by Kalmar.
In a letter released Tuesday by CIM, acting Title IX director Dean Southern acknowledged the seriousness of the complaints but said "the specific allegations against Carlos Kalmar did not violate the Sexual Assault, Sexual Harassment, and Sex Non-Discrimination Policy Under Title IX."
About 30 students, faculty and staff were interviewed as part of the investigation by former U.S. Attorney Carole Rendon. In dismissing the case, Southern said "the conduct was not on the basis of sex, nor was it so severe or pervasive as to create an objectively offensive environment such that it denies anyone equal access to educational opportunities at CIM based on gender." The parties involved have five days to appeal.
Uruguayan-born and Vienna-trained, Carlos Kalmar was named director of orchestral and conducting programs at CIM in 2021, following a three-year search. He left the Oregon Symphony after 18 years as its music director to take the post. He has been artistic director of Chicago’s Grant Park Music Festival since 2000. At the time he joined CIM, the school said his responsibilities would include conducting student ensembles in addition to directing programs. The full letter from CIM is shared below.
Dear CIM Community,
Thank you for your patience as the Cleveland Institute of Music worked to conduct a thorough and fact-based investigation into Title IX allegations involving Carlos Kalmar. The investigation was led by Carole Rendon, a former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio and partner at the BakerHostetler law firm. Rendon was retained to ensure that the investigation was fair, impartial, and independent.
The Title IX investigation is now complete and earlier this afternoon I communicated my findings to the parties. While the findings of a Title IX investigation are not normally communicated beyond the parties, in light of the public attention surrounding this case, I have decided to share this update with you.
As CIM’s Acting Title IX Officer, I thoroughly reviewed the investigative report which included written reports, voluntary written statements, videos, interviews with more than thirty CIM students, faculty, and staff, and additional evidence provided by both parties. Based on the evidence found in the investigative report, CIM has concluded that the specific allegations against Carlos Kalmar did not violate the Sexual Assault, Sexual Harassment, and Sex Non-Discrimination Policy Under Title IX.
The investigation found that the alleged conduct could not constitute sex discrimination or sexual harassment as prohibited by Title IX because the conduct did not have “the purpose or effect of substantially or unreasonably interfering with a person’s participation in educational programs or activities…” Moreover, the conduct was not on the basis of sex, nor was it so severe or pervasive as to create an objectively offensive environment such that it denies anyone equal access to educational opportunities at CIM based on gender. Therefore, the Institute was obligated to dismiss the Formal Complaint of Sexual Harassment in this matter.
Mr. Kalmar and the complainants have been informed of the decision to dismiss this case. Each has five business days to appeal the decision. Grounds for an appeal can be found online.
President Hogle, Provost Harrison, and I, as well as the entire CIM administration, have always approached Title IX concerns with a high level of seriousness. As in this case, our goal is to conduct a thorough and fact-based examination leading to a determination consistent with CIM’s Title IX policy. That examination is only possible because of the courage and candor of all of the members of our community who were involved in this process.
Details regarding placement hearings, required of new students and optional for returning students, have already been distributed to orchestral students; scheduling, repertoire, and other class information will soon follow.
CIM will make sure that our students are fully supported to continue CIM’s tradition of empowering the world’s most talented classical musicians.
Dean Southern (he/him/his)
Acting Title IX Coordinator
Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs
& Dean of the Institute
Cleveland Institute of Music