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Temple University acting president JoAnne Epps died Tuesday after collapsing on stage at a memorial service for a Temple scholar. Epps, aged 72, was rushed to Temple University Hospital but did not survive.

“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,” university officials said in a joint statement.

The cause of her death was unclear as of publication.

Epps was appointed acting president earlier this year when Jason Wingard stepped down in March, after less than two years on the job, amid mounting pressures over safety and other issues. Epps joined Temple as a law professor in 1985 before becoming associate dean of academic affairs in 1989 and then dean of the university’s Beasley School of Law in 2008.

Temple will likely name an acting president at a Board of Trustees meeting on Wednesday.

At a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Ken Kaiser, senior vice president and chief operating officer at Temple, said Epps would be remembered for her “kind heart” and as a “calming force in troubled waters” who had been “steering the Temple ship in the right direction.”

Epps is one of several college presidents to die in office in recent years. Others include Sister Candace Introcaso, president of La Roche University in May; Jeffrey H. Barker of Converse University in 2021; Irving McPhail of St. Augustine’s University and Mark Ivester of North Georgia Technical College, both of whom died in 2020 shortly after contracting the coronavirus.

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