Temple University’s President JoAnne Epps has died after collapsing onstage during a university event Tuesday.
Epps, 72, was at a memorial event on the Philadelphia campus that she was slated to speak at when she appeared in distress and collapsed, the New York Times reported.
“Footage from a live feed of the memorial service that was later removed from Temple’s website showed a choir singing behind a row of chairs that had been set up on the stage. Ms. Epps appeared to slump in her chair as papers she was holding in her lap fell to the floor,” the Times reported.
“People seated next to her noticed that she was in distress, and someone stepped to the lectern and asked for a doctor to come and help. The live feed then cut out for several minutes before the memorial service resumed.”
The university later announced Epps had “suddenly passed away this afternoon.”
“Dear Members of the Temple Community, It is with deep heartbreak that we write to inform you that Temple University Acting President JoAnne A. Epps suddenly passed away this afternoon,” the school posted on X.
Her cause of death has yet to be announced.
Dear Members of the Temple Community,
It is with deep heartbreak that we write to inform you that Temple University Acting President JoAnne A. Epps suddenly passed away this afternoon. pic.twitter.com/lvzxcLud9E
— Temple University (@TempleUniv) September 19, 2023
Epps was the university’s acting president. She was at a campus memorial service for Charles L. Blockson, curator of the Blockson Collection, when she fell ill, the university said in a statement posted on its website.
“There are no words that can describe the gravity and sadness of this loss. 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,” it added.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Epps was “carried out in the arms of a uniformed officer after the announcer asked if there was a doctor in the house.”
Mitchell Morgan, chair of the board of trustees, said there would be an emergency meeting Wednesday.
“The school recently launched a search for a new president, but that could take the better part of a year. Epps had not intended to be a candidate for that job. She had planned on retiring before the board asked her to take on the interim role,” according to the Inquirer.
As The College Fix previously reported, Temple University’s former President Jason Wingard left his job this spring after only two years in the post and amid a campus crime spree.