PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Temple University acting president JoAnne A. Epps died Tuesday shortly after becoming ill on stage during a memorial service, officials said, describing her loss as a gut punch and struggling through emotion as they recalled her nearly four decades of service.
Epps was attending a memorial service at the university for Charles L. Blockson, a curator of a collection of African American artifacts, when she suffered what a doctor speaking at a news conference described as a “sudden episode.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Epps, who was scheduled to speak at the service, slumped in her chair shortly after the event began and was carried out in the arms of a uniformed officer after the announcer asked if there was a doctor in the house.
Ken Kaiser, senior vice president and chief operating officer at Temple, declined to speculate about Epps’ health prior to her collapse, but he called her death a “gut punch for all of us right now.”
“We are not aware that President Epps had any health issues,” Kaiser said at the news conference.
Kaiser told The Associated Press that he had known Epps for three decades.
“JoAnne was full of life, somebody who was super compassionate and truly cared about other people and had a wonderful way of pulling them all together and getting people excited about even a daunting task, making things fun,” he said.