The Lead

Temple University Acting President JoAnne Epps dies suddenly

By: - September 19, 2023 4:54 pm

Temple University in Philadelphia (Image via Temple University)

Temple University acting President JoAnne Epps died suddenly on Tuesday, after collapsing at an event on campus, the university said in a news release. She was 72.

“There are no words that can describe the gravity and sadness of this loss,” Mitchell L. Morgan, chair of Temple’s Board of Trustees said in a statement. “President Epps was a devoted servant and friend who represented the best parts of Temple. She spent nearly 40 years of her life serving this university, and it goes without saying her loss will reverberate through the community for years to come.

JoAnne Epps (Photo via Temple University)

Epps was attending a memorial service on campus for historian and author Charles L. Blockson when she became ill, according to the university, and she was taken to Temple University Hospital. She was pronounced dead at 3:15 p.m.

The former dean of Temple’s Beasley School of Law, Epps replaced Temple’s former president Jason Wingard in April, after Wingard resigned after less than two years at the helm. His tenure was marred by a graduate student strike, and rising concerns about crime near the school’s north Philadelphia campus.

Epps served as Temple’s law school dean from July 2008 until her appointment as executive vice president and provost of Temple University in July 2016. She left Temple in 2021 as part of a senior management shakeup by Wingard. When she was appointed acting president, Morgan wrote in a news release that Epps’ first job as a teenager had been as cashier at the university bookstore.

Gov. Josh Shapiro said in a statement posted to social media on Tuesday that losing Epps was “heartbreaking for Philadelphia,” and offered his condolences. “JoAnne Epps was a powerful force and constant ambassador for Temple University for nearly four decades,” Shapiro said.

Pennsylvania House Speaker Joanna McClinton (D-Philadelphia), said the news of Epps’ death was a tragedy. “Acting President JoAnne Epps dedicated decades of her professional life to the Temple University community – championing women and people of color in the legal profession and inspiring a generation of leaders,” McClinton said. “She will be truly missed by the Temple community and beyond.”

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Kim Lyons
Kim Lyons

Kim is a veteran western Pennsylvania journalist who has covered people and trends in politics and business for local and national publications.