When the incident occurred, Epps had what a doctor characterized as a “sudden episode” at the university, attending a memorial ceremony for Charles L. Blockson, a curator of a collection of African-American artefacts. The doctor was addressing at a press conference.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Epps, who was supposed to give a speech at the event, became unresponsive and fell in her chair shortly after the ceremony started. A uniformed officer reportedly removed her from the building when the announcer inquired whether a physician was there.
Epps was transported to Temple University Hospital, and at around 3:15 p.m., a physician there confirmed that she had passed away. The institution announced on Tuesday. Her age was 72.
Temple University’s senior vice president and chief operations officer, Ken Kaiser, who refused to comment about Epps’ condition before her breakdown, referred to her passing as a “gut punch for all of us right now.”
At the press conference, Kaiser said, “We are not aware that President Epps had any health issues.”
Kaiser informed the Associated Press that he had known Epps for thirty years.
“Joanne was full of life, somebody who was super compassionate and truly cared about other people and had a wonderful way of pulling them all together and getting people excited about even a daunting task, making things fun,” he added. “Joanne had a wonderful way of pulling people together and getting people excited about even a daunting task, making things fun.”
While speaking about Epps, Temple University Provost Gregory Mandel became overcome with emotion.
Everyone here is in profound sorrow, and none of us know what to say. Mandel said during the press conference that to know Joanne is the same thing as being her buddy.
Mandel said the institution’s Board of Trustees will meet on Wednesday to “put together a plan for us as we work through this transition.”
Epps, Temple University’s former law school dean and provost, was appointed to the position in April after the retirement of Jason Wingard, the institution’s first Black president. Wingard stepped down in March after managing the 33,600-student university since July 2021. Epps was chosen to the office after Wingard’s departure.
According to Kaiser, Epps began her career at Temple University forty years ago working in the bookshop and has since devoted herself to enhancing the institution.
Epps made this pledge in an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer. During the turbulent term of her predecessor, violence had been on the rise in the area around the north Philadelphia campus, negatively impacting enrollment numbers and safety.
According to the article in the newspaper, enrollment numbers have decreased by 14% since 2019. She believed she had been chosen partly because of her “ability to sort of calm waters.”
He then confessed to her that he would have hugged her if he had known they wouldn’t see each other for two years.
She expressed her disinterest in being considered for the long-term position.
The Temple Association of University Professionals labor union remembered the personal touch that Epps provided.
Jeffrey Doshna, president of the union, said, “I remember her walking into my office this April and chatting with me one-on-one about how we could work together to make Temple a better place.” “I remember her walking into my office this April.”
Her passing has been described as “heartbreaking for Philadelphia” by Governor Josh Shapiro, who added that she had been “a powerful force and constant ambassador for Temple University for nearly four decades.”
Kaiser stated that he was leaving the office when the COVID-19 outbreak struck, and Temple was being evacuated.
“It was our last day in the office; we were together, and I said, OK, I’ll see you in a couple weeks, and I didn’t really see her for two years,” Kaiser recalled. “It was our last day in the office.”
After some time, he revealed that he would have hugged her if he had known they wouldn’t see her again for two years.