The acting president of Temple University in Philadelphia, JoAnne A. Epps, died Tuesday afternoon at the age of 72 after collapsing at a memorial service, the university said, following a rocky period of change for university leadership.
Epps became ill and collapsed while attending a memorial service at Temple for Charles Blockson, curator of the on-campus art gallery the Blockson Collection, according to the university.
She was transported to Temple University Hospital and was pronounced dead around 3:15 p.m. Tuesday.
University board chairman Mitchell Morgan said, “There are no words that can describe the gravity and sadness of this loss.”
The university did not immediately provide a cause of death, but said her death was sudden.
Ken Kaiser, senior vice president and chief operating officer at Temple University, said at a news conference, “we are not aware that President Epps had any health issues,” according to the Associated Press.
Epps, who was previously Temple University’s former law school dean and provost and had been a member of the faculty since 1985, has been serving as the school’s president in the interim since April, when Jason Wingard, the university’s first Black president, resigned after leading the Temple University since July 2021. Wingard was facing a potential no-confidence vote over questions about hiring practices, public-safety concerns, problems in the ethics, compliance and research offices, and his perceived lack of on-campus visibility, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. He had the shortest tenure of any president in the school’s history. Before coming to Temple University, Epps served as an assistant U.S. Attorney in Philadelphia and as a deputy city attorney in Los Angeles.The university, based in Philadelphia, has about 33,600 students and was founded in 1884.
Gov. Josh Shapiro called Epps “a powerful force and constant ambassador for Temple University for nearly four decades” adding that “Losing her is heartbreaking for Philadelphia” in a post to X, formerly known as Twitter.
Temple University says acting president JoAnne A. Epps has died after collapsing on stage (The Associated Press)