Temple University’s acting president JoAnne Epps died unexpectedly Tuesday after collapsing on stage at a university event.
Officials of the Philadelphia-based university called her loss a “gut punch.” Epps was 72 years old.
As reported by UPI, the university said Epps became ill Tuesday during a memorial service at Temple for Charles Blockson, a curator of the Blockson Collection.
She was taken to Temple University Hospital for treatment and was pronounced dead at 3:15 p.m., the university said.
“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 university wrote Tuesday in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.
While the university did not disclose the cause for Epps’ death, a doctor at the hospital in Philadelphia said she suffered a “sudden episode” and could not be revived.
“It sounds like President Epps suffered a sudden episode during the event, was promptly attended to by emergency medical services, was transported here to Temple Hospital where resuscitation efforts continued but unfortunately were unsuccessful,” Dr. Daniel del Portal at Temple University Hospital told reporters.
“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,” the university said in a statement Tuesday.
During her time at Temple, Epps served as the dean of Temple Beasley School of Law between 2008 and 2016.
She became the university’s executive vice president and provost in 2016 before stepping in as acting president in April.
Condolences poured in over social media Tuesday following her death, including from the governor of Pennsylvania.
“JoAnne Epps was a powerful force and constant ambassador for Temple University for nearly four decades. Losing her is heart-breaking for Philadelphia,” Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro wrote in a post on X.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney wrote: “Heartbroken by the sudden passing of Temple University’s acting President JoAnne A. Epps. She was a passionate and steadfast leader who inspired many. I feel fortunate to have known her.”