Funeral Joan A. died. Epps is acting president of Temple University and Joan A. Epps, Temple University’s acting president, died after falling ill during an event on campus Tuesday afternoon.
Epps was attending a memorial service at Temple for Charles L. Blockson, curator of the Blockson Collection, when she became ill.
The 72-year-old woman was taken to Temple University Hospital, where she was pronounced dead around 3:15 p.m., according to a news release. The statement was issued jointly by Mitchell Morgan, chair of the university’s Board of Trustees, Ken Kaiser, senior vice president and chief operating officer, and Gregory Mandel, senior vice president and provost.
“No words can describe the gravity and sadness of this loss,” the statement read. “President Epps was a loyal 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 that her loss will reverberate through the community for years to come.”
Morgan, Kaiser, and Mandel said their thoughts are with the Epps family and the entire Temple community.
“The days ahead will be difficult, but we will depend on each other as President Epps wants us to do,” the statement read.
Epps was a core member of Temple University’s Beasley Law School faculty, with more than three decades of teaching under her belt. She eventually became dean in 2008.
After eight years as dean, Temple appointed Epps to the position of executive vice president and provost.
The university was going through a turbulent period when Epps took on her current role.
Outside of higher education, Epps served as Assistant U.S. Attorney in Philadelphia and Deputy City Attorney in Los Angeles.
A Cheltenham native, Epps has held numerous leadership roles in various organizations including the American Bar Association and the Philadelphia Police Oversight Board, where she became the inaugural president.
“If we want to ensure that our time here means something, we must ensure that we hand over to those who come behind us a commitment — and a passion — to work for the best possible world,” Epps said in a statement. Her university’s CV page . “For me, this means inspiring young lawyers to understand the incredible opportunity our profession provides to serve our world while serving our clients and ourselves.”
Reactions are already pouring in from Philadelphia and beyond to her sudden death.
“Acting President Joanna Epps has dedicated decades of her career to the Temple University community – championing women and people of color in the legal profession and inspiring a generation of leaders,” said House Speaker Rep. Joanna McClinton. “Today’s news is a tragedy, and will be truly missed by the Temple community and beyond.”
The Temple Association of University Professionals (TAUP) issued a statement calling Epps “a true Temple icon.”
“Joan’s calming presence gave Temple a reset this spring when we needed it most,” TAUP President Jeffrey Duchna said in the news release. “I remember her walking into my office last April, and talking to me face-to-face about how we could work together to make Temple a better place. That kind of personal approach makes her loss even more profound.”
“Sad news for the education community,” said Greg Lyles, director of major gifts at Delaware State University. Lyles did not know her personally but was inspired by Epps’ work. She was loved, respected and a giant. Everyone knows her work in education.
A vigil for Epps will be held at the university’s bell tower at 12 noon on Wednesday. The entire Temple community is invited, the university said.
“This will be a time to reflect, remember and support each other during this time of grief,” temple officials said in a statement