EVANSTON, Ill. -- Officials of Northwestern University say a journalism professor accused of misconduct by former students and employees is taking a leave of absence.

University spokesman Alan Cubbage on Thursday said Alec Klein is stepping away from teaching investigative journalism and as director of the Medill Justice Project while an investigation takes place.

Eight former students and two former Medill Justice Project employees released an open letter Wednesday alleging misconduct by Klein dating back to 2011. Among the allegations is that Klein gave unwanted neck massages, tried to kiss a prospective employee and asked a worker if she was a stripper.

Klein denied the accusations, saying many of the claims came from a "disgruntled former employee."

Klein worked for The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal before joining Northwestern's faculty.