On September 19, Temple University’s interim president, JoAnne A. Epps, paid her respects during a memorial service for the late historian Charles L. Blockson. She started to feel sick while she was performing. In the afternoon of that day, doctors declared her dead.
The news of Epps’ passing was announced in a statement from the school. At 3:15 p.m. local time, she was pronounced dead at Temple University Hospital in Pennsylvania, where she had been taken by ambulance after falling ill, as reported by the university.
According to the university’s statement, the “gravity and sadness” of the loss cannot be expressed in words. Many at Temple University have spoken highly of Epps, describing him as a loyal friend and dedicated servant.
Epps’s age at death was revealed to be 72. Video of the funeral service had been posted online, but subsequently removed. The temporary president was apparently shown slouching in her chair as the choir performed. She dropped several papers on the floor from her lap. People quickly realized there was a problem. A member in the audience sprang to their feet and appealed for a doctor. Then the event’s live stream was abruptly terminated.
The death of Epps has hit the university at a difficult time. Jason Wingard, who had been president since March, stepped down. When Epps took charge, he brought stability to the institution after years of chaos. However, she had previously stated that she only expected to take the role temporarily before retiring the next year.
Gregory Mandel, provost of Temple University, called Epps “one of the most… compassionate and caring individuals [he’d] ever known” at a press conference.
Former Democratic governor of Pennsylvania Josh Shapiro eulogized the late president as a “powerful force and constant ambassador” for Penn State. The loss, he said, was “heartbreaking,” and he and his wife were thinking of Epps’ loved ones.