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.
Epps, 72, was speaking at a memorial service for Charles L. Blockson, the curator emeritus of the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection at Temple University, according to Temple News. Blockson died at the age of 89 on June 14.
“I am devastated by this loss,” Mitch Morgan, chair of the Board of Trustees, told The Inquirer. “She was our light at the end of the tunnel. Temple University will survive it. I’m not sure I will emotionally survive it.”
A uniformed officer carried Epps 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.”
Epps was transported to Temple University Hospital for further treatment, where she was pronounced dead at 3:15 p.m., university leaders wrote.
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.