JoAnne A. Epps, acting president of Temple University in Philadelphia, collapsed on stage during a celebration of life ceremony for Charles L. Blockson on September 19, where she was scheduled to speak. She was taken from the stage to Temple University Hospital, where she was pronounced dead. President Epps was 72 years old
Epps was the first Black woman to lead the university. In April she took over from Jason Wingard who resigned in March after serving less than two years in the position.
In a statement, university officials said “we are all devastated by the sudden passing of Temple University Acting President JoAnne Epps. She was an extraordinary leader, teacher and friend to all. Her commitment to this institution was unwavering.”
Professor Epps was a native of Cheltenham, Pennsylvania, and the daughter of a Temple University employee. Her first job at the age of 16 was as a cashier at the Temple University bookstore. Epps went on to earn a bachelor’s degree at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, and a law degree at Yale Law School.
Early in her career, Epps served as an assistant U.S. attorney in Philadelphia and a deputy city attorney in Los Angeles. Professor Epps joined the Temple faculty in 1985. She was named associate dean of academic affairs at the law school in 1989. She was promoted to full professor in 1994.