School of Music, Theatre & Dance professor Stephen Shipps, who has been accused by multiple women of sexual misconduct over the past 40 years, will officially be retiring in May 2019, according to emails sent to his students and obtained by The Michigan Daily.
An investigation by The Daily, published on Dec. 10, uncovered multiple allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct against Shipps dating back approximately 40 years. An update attached to the article on Tuesday, Dec. 11 stated that Shipps was placed on leave, replaced as Chair of Strings and removed as faculty director of the Strings Preparatory Academy on Dec. 7.
In an email to his students sent on Wednesday, Dec. 12 at 1:40 p.m. with the subject line “Greetings to all of you,” Shipps writes that he will be retiring in May of 2019. A copy of this email was provided to The Daily by a student who received this email. The student studied with Shipps this past semester.
“Yesterday, I received a letter from Dean Gier thanking me for my years of service and placing me on Administrative Leave for the Winter Semester,” Shipps writes. “We agreed that my retirement date would be May 31, 2019.”
By the morning of Monday, Dec. 10, Shipps’s personal belongings had been removed from his office, as had his nameplate. A corkboard once covered with posters now stands bare.
The Daily then emailed Public Affairs the morning of Tuesday, Dec. 11 requesting information regarding Shipps’s employment status. Public Affairs responded by saying that Shipps was on leave, and that his leave began on Friday, Dec. 7. In subsequent emails, Public Affairs refused to comment on Shipps’s planned retirement.
“The university does not typically comment on personnel matters,” University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald wrote. “And, at this time, we have no additional information to share.”
The circumstances behind Shipps’s May retirement remain unclear. The Daily reached out to Public Affairs again after obtaining the emails Shipps sent to his students, but as per standard University policy, Fitzgerald would not confirm that the Office for Institutional Equity or the University of Michigan Police Department have opened investigations into allegations against Shipps.
The effects of Shipps’s planned retirement on these hypothetical investigations, furthermore, remains unclear — though the U-M Standard Practice Guide does state that “the University in its sole discretion may modify, amend, or terminate the benefits programs with respect to any individual receiving benefits.”
This is a developing story. Please check back at michigandaily.com for more information.