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Temple University acting president JoAnne A. Epps died Tuesday soon aft becoming sick connected shape astatine a memorial service, officials said, describing her nonaccomplishment arsenic a gut punch and struggling done emotion arsenic they recalled her astir 4 decades of service.
Epps was attending a memorial work astatine nan assemblage for Charles L. Blockson, a curator of a postulation of African American artifacts, erstwhile she suffered what a expert speaking astatine a news convention described arsenic a “sudden episode.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Epps, who was scheduled to speak astatine nan service, slumped successful her chair soon aft nan arena began and was carried retired successful nan arms of a uniformed serviceman aft nan announcer asked if location was a expert successful nan house.
Epps was taken to Temple University Hospital, wherever she was pronounced dormant astir 3:15 p.m. Tuesday, nan assemblage said. She was 72.
Ken Kaiser, elder vice president and main operating serviceman astatine Temple, declined to estimate astir Epps’ wellness anterior to her illness but called her decease a “gut punch for each of america correct now.”
“We are not alert that President Epps had immoderate wellness issues,” Kaiser said astatine nan news conference.
Kaiser told The Associated Press that he had known Epps for 3 decades.
“Joanne was afloat of life, personification who was ace compassionate and genuinely cared astir different group and had a awesome measurement of pulling them each together and getting group excited astir moreover a daunting task, making things fun,” he said.
Temple University Provost Gregory Mandel choked up arsenic he described Epps.
“We are each successful heavy condolences and astatine a nonaccomplishment for words. To cognize Joanne is to beryllium her friend,” Mandel said astatine nan news conference.
Mandel said nan university’s Board of Trustees would meet Wednesday to “put together a scheme for america arsenic we activity done this transition.”
Epps, Temple's erstwhile rule schoolhouse dean and provost, was named to nan station successful April pursuing nan resignation of Jason Wingard, nan university's first Black president, who resigned successful March aft starring nan 33,600-student assemblage since July 2021.
Kaiser said Epps started retired moving astatine Temple's bookstore 40 years agone and dedicated herself to improving nan university.
In an question and reply pinch The Philadelphia Inquirer, Epps vowed to attraction connected improving enrollment and safety, which had been deed by spiraling crime adjacent nan northbound Philadelphia field during her predecessor’s tumultuous tenure. The newspaper reported enrollment had dropped by 14% since 2019. She said she believed she was selected successful portion for her “ability to benignant of calm waters.”
“I americium evidently humbled and excited and really looking guardant to being capable to make a publication to nan assemblage that I truthful love,” Epps told nan newspaper. She said she would not beryllium a campaigner for nan imperishable position.
The Temple Association of University Professionals labour national recalled Epps’ individual touch.
“I retrieve her stepping into my agency this April, and chatting pinch maine one-on-one astir really we could activity together to make Temple a amended place,” national president Jeffrey Doshna said successful a statement.
Gov. Josh Shapiro called her nonaccomplishment “heartbreaking for Philadelphia, saying she had been “a powerful unit and changeless ambassador for Temple University for astir 4 decades.”
Kaiser recalled leaving nan agency erstwhile nan COVID-19 pandemic deed and Temple was shutting down.
“It was our past time successful nan office, we were together and I said, OK, I’ll spot you successful a mates weeks and I didn’t really spot her for 2 years,” Kaiser said.
He later told her that if he knew they wouldn’t spot her for 2 years, he would person fixed her a hug.
Associated Press writer Marc Levy successful Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, contributed to this report.