Former students bring decades of accusations against University of Michigan music professor

Stephen Shipps (Photo: University of Michigan)

ANN ARBOR – A recent Michigan Daily investigation details mounting allegations against University of Michigan professor of violin Stephen Shipps by former students, some dating back to 1978.

According to the Daily, Shipps' former students accuse him of sexual assault, unwanted touching, sexual relationships with teenage pupils and making sexist and misogynistic comments.

The most recent accusation was from a student who attended a summer music program sometime in the last five years.

Shipps was first hired by the university in 1989 as an associate professor of music. Over the years, he has enjoyed a decorated academic career, serving as chair of strings, the faculty director of the Strings Preparatory Academy, a member of the Executive Committee of the School of Music, Theatre & Dance and the associate dean for academic affairs. 

According to the report, another faculty member was aware of the allegations:

"The Daily also found reports that at least one faculty member in the Music, Theatre & Dance school, Prof. Yizhak Schotten, was made aware of some of these allegations soon after Shipps’s hiring was announced and before he started teaching. It is unclear whether he communicated these concerns to the University at the time, or if the University has ever been made aware of these concerns."

The Daily got in touch with former students of Shipps' who allege he made unwanted advances or had ongoing sexual relationships with them while they were in high school and he was in his late 20s and 30s.

These specific accounts date before Shipps' time at the University of Michigan, when he was a concertmaster of the Omaha Symphony, a professor at the University of Nebraska-Omaha and later a professor at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

In some cases, the girls said they knew of each other's relationships with Shipps. Some compared stories.

In conversations with current and former UMSMTD students and staff, the Daily was presented with numerous instances of Shipps making misogynistic comments.

Read the full Michigan Daily report.

University spokesperson Kim Broekhuizen told A4 Wednesday that Shipps is on leave. The school has no further comments at this time.

This is the second story to arise this year about sexual misconduct by a UMSMTD professor. In August, U-M professor and opera singer David Daniels and his husband Scott Walters were accused of rape by baritone Samuel Schultz.

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About the Author:

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.