University’s Acting President Passes Away Onstage at Memorial Event

( – In June, 89-year-old Charles L. Blockson died. He was a historian and the curator of the Blockson Afro-American Collection at Temple University. The famed school recently held a memorial service for him but tragedy unfolded at the event.

On September 19, Temple University released a shocking statement announcing the death of Acting President JoAnne A. Epps. She passed away earlier that day after falling ill during the memorial for Blockson. Reports indicated that she slumped in her seat while the choir was performing at one point. She was holding papers in her lap at the time and they fell to the floor.

Someone who was on stage with Epps spoke to the audience and asked for a doctor to help. The school president was rushed to Temple University Hospital where staff pronounced her dead at 3:15 p.m. local time. It’s unclear what killed her.

The statement from Temple was signed by Senior Vice President and Provost Gregory Mandel, CEO Ken Kaiser, and Board of Trustees Chairman Mitchell L. Morgan. They said Epps’ death was one that would impact the university for years. She served the school for almost four decades, becoming the acting president in April after the previous president resigned the month before.

Epps never intended to run Temple University and made it clear that she was only holding the position temporarily while the school found a new president. She was going to retire before she was asked to lead the school.

Josh Shapiro, the governor of Pennsylvania, issued a statement on X, formerly Twitter. He said that he and his wife were holding the late president’s family in their hearts, calling her a “powerful force and constant ambassador” for the school.

Mandel spoke about Epps’ death during a press conference, Fox News reported. He said the school was “in deep grief and at a loss for words.” He went on to say she was one of the most compassionate people he’d ever known.

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