Temple University’s Acting President Mysteriously Dies After Passing Out on Stage During Institution’s Memorial Service

by Xara Aziz
Temple University Beasley School of Law

The first Black woman to serve as Temple University’s Acting President mysteriously died shortly after passing out while on stage during a memorial service at the institution.

JoAnne A. Epps, 72, was scheduled to speak at the service in commemoration of Charles L. Blockson, an art curator, historian and author who organized the extensive Blockson Afro-American Collection at Temple’s Sullivan Hall. 

During the event, Epps suddenly slumped over in her chair and had to be carried out of the venue, prompting Kimmika Williams-Witherspoon, a professor and senior associate dean at the university to step in and complete her speech.

Williams-Witherspoon would later find out during the memorial service that Epps had died, according to a report in The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Epps was pronounced dead on Sept. 19 shortly after 3 PM. According to The Associated Press, the late esteemed educator suffered a “sudden episode.” It is unclear where her remains are being held.

Before Epps’ passing, she worked at Temple for almost half a century as the law school’s dean and provost. It was only earlier this year when she was appointed Acting President at the request of the school’s board, although she intended to retire. The university’s first Black president, Jason Wingard, had just stepped down, causing her to step in to assume the role.

“We are not aware that President Epps had any health issues,” Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Temple, Ken Kaiser, reportedly said during a press conference.

The university is scheduled to host a viewing at Liacouras Center on Sept. 28th for those who wish to pay their respects, according to NBC Philadelphia. The next day, the same venue will host a celebration of her life beginning at 8 AM.

Epps will be laid to rest on Saturday, Sept. 30.

Following her passing, Temple University will establish two memorial funds in the late scholar’s honor. The JoAnne A. Epps Beasley School of Law Scholarship and The JoAnne A. Epps Undergraduate Scholarship will be awarded to enrolled students who epitomize “the values Epps embodied.”

Related Posts

Crown App