JoAnne Epps dies after collapsing at university event

The acting president collapsed while speaking at a university memorial event.

Acting President Epps, 72, died after collapsing at a memorial service for Charles L. Blockson on Sept. 19. | NOEL CHACKO / THE TEMPLE NEWS

This story is developing. Check back for updates.

Updated 9/19 at 5:06 p.m.

Temple Acting President JoAnne Epps has died after collapsing on stage at a university event Tuesday afternoon, according to an email from university leadership Tuesday.

At a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Dr. Daniel del Portal said that Epps experienced a “sudden episode” during today’s memorial service for Charles L. Blockson, the curator emeritus of the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection at Temple University. Blockson died at the age of 89 on June 14.

Epps was transported to Temple University Hospital where resuscitation efforts were continued, but ultimately unsuccessful.

A uniformed officer carried Epps, 72, off stage, at which point the ceremony was temporarily postponed, but then resumed with Kimmika Williams Witherspoon, former faculty senate president, stepping in to read Epps’ remarks, The Inquirer reported.

“There are no words that can describe the gravity and sadness of this loss,” wrote Morgan, Senior Vice President Ken Kaiser and Provost Gregory Mandel in the email. “President Epps was a devoted 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 her loss will reverberate through the community for years to come.” 

Morgan will hold an emergency meeting on Wednesday, The Inquirer reported.

Epps became Temple’s new leader after the Board of Trustees unanimously voted her the university’s acting president at a meeting on April 11. 

“The days ahead will be difficult, but we will lean on one another as President Epps would want us to,” the leaders wrote.

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