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Tragic Loss Strikes Temple University: Acting President JoAnne A. Epps Passes Away During Memorial Service

September 20, 2023

In a heartbreaking turn of events, Temple University’s acting president, JoAnne A. Epps, passed away on Tuesday during a memorial service. University officials expressed their deep sorrow as they recounted her nearly four decades of dedicated service.









Epps had been attending a memorial service at the university in honor of Charles L. Blockson, a curator renowned for his collection of African American artifacts. Tragically, she experienced a sudden and unexpected medical episode during the event.

Witnesses reported that Epps, who was scheduled to speak at the service, slumped in her chair shortly after it began. In a moment of urgency, a uniformed officer carried her out of the venue after an announcement for medical assistance.

Efforts were made to save her life as Epps was rushed to Temple University Hospital, but she was pronounced dead around 3:15 p.m. on Tuesday. She was 72 years old.

Ken Kaiser, Temple’s senior vice president and chief operating officer, declined to speculate on Epps’ health prior to the incident but expressed the profound impact of her passing: “We are not aware that President Epps had any health issues. … JoAnne was full of life, somebody who was super compassionate and truly cared about other people.”

Temple University Provost Gregory Mandel was visibly moved as he spoke about Epps, describing the collective grief the university community was experiencing.

The university’s Board of Trustees announced plans to meet the following day to address the transition in leadership. Epps had taken on the role of acting president in April, succeeding Jason Wingard, Temple’s first Black president, who had resigned in March.

Epps had a deep history with the university, having started her career at Temple’s bookstore 40 years ago. Her dedication to improving the institution was evident, as she vowed to focus on issues such as enrollment and campus safety during her tenure.









The Temple Association of University Professionals labor union also remembered Epps for her personal touch and commitment to making the university a better place.

Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro described Epps as “a powerful force and constant ambassador for Temple University for nearly four decades.”

In the wake of her sudden passing, the Temple University community and Philadelphia at large mourn the loss of a remarkable leader who dedicated her life to the betterment of education and her beloved university.

Credit: AP


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