Aaron Dworkin stepping down as UM music dean

Michael H. Hodges
Detroit News Fine Arts Writer

Correction: This story has been updated to correct how long Aaron Dworkin served as dean.

Aaron Dworkin, the first African-American dean of the School of Music, Theatre and Dance at the University of Michigan, is stepping down after two years, effective in August.

Dworkin, a violinist who founded Detroit’s nonprofit Sphinx Organization that works to boost minority numbers in major orchestras, became dean in August 2015. At that time his wife, Afa, took over as Sphinx executive director.

In an email to the entire university, Dworkin said he’d arrived at his decision to resign with “intensely mixed emotions.”

He said he needed the opportunity “to focus more on my family, and this step reflects a joint family decision on our part. I appreciate your understanding about this,” Dworkin added, “and my need for privacy on this matter.”

He will remain a member of the UM faculty, teaching courses next fall in Creative Entrepreneurship and Arts Leadership.

Dworkin is credited with breathing new spirit into the school, creating a chamber-music department, and launching a new international chamber competition, MPrize, to be held annually in Ann Arbor with a top prize of $100,000.

U-M Provost Paul Courant said he’d prefer Dworkin stayed on, since he felt he’d led the school “with vision and energy.”

All the same, he added, “I respect his decision and his commitment to his family.”


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