(UnitedVoice.com) – On September 19, the acting president of Temple University, JoAnne A. Epps, attended a memorial service for the noted historian, Charles L. Blockson. While she was on stage, she began to feel ill. Later that day, medical personnel pronounced her dead.
The university released a statement announcing Epps’ death. According to the school, she was transported to Temple University Hospital in Pennsylvania when she fell ill and was pronounced dead at 3:15 p.m. local time.
The statement from the university stated that there weren’t any words to describe the “gravity and sadness” of the loss. They said that Epps was a great friend and servant who spent almost four decades serving the Temple University community.
Epps was 72 years old when she died. Footage of the memorial service was online but later taken down. It reportedly showed the acting president slumping in her chair while the choir was singing. Papers fell from her lap onto the floor. It didn’t take long for people to notice something was wrong. Someone stood up and asked the audience for a doctor to come up and help. The live feed of the event was then cut off.
Epps’ death comes during a tough time for the university. In March, its previous president, Jason Wingard, resigned from his position. Epps took over and was a welcome change to the turmoil that had engulfed the school in the years prior. However, she’d made it clear that she only intended to hold the position temporarily because she’d planned to retire the year before.
At a news conference, Temple University Provost Gregory Mandel said Epps was “one of the most… compassionate and caring individuals [he’d] ever known.”
Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro (D) called the late president a “powerful force and constant ambassador” for the university. He called the loss “heartbreaking” and said he and his wife were holding Epps’ family in their hearts.
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