JoAnne Epps’ sudden death shocked the Philadelphia academic community. Epps, who was 72 years old, unexpectedly became ill at a memorial for Charles L. Blockson. This led to her premature death.
Decades of Service and Leadership
Epps has been associated with Temple University for nearly four decades. Epps began her career as a campus bookstore cashier. She climbed up the ranks and eventually taught law for more than thirty years. She took on many leadership positions, including that of provost and Dean at Temple’s Law School.
Epps made her mark early on as an Assistant U.S. attorney in Philadelphia and as the Deputy City Attorney of Los Angeles. However, her love of law didn’t just stop there: Epps was an outspoken supporter of women and minorities entering legal profession. She held key roles with organizations such as American Bar Association and National Association of Women Lawyers.
A Leadership Role Unplanned
Epps, who had planned to retire, was forced by duty to take on the role of acting president after Jason Wingard resigned earlier this year. Jeffrey Doshna of the Temple Association of University Professionals shed some light on Epps’ immediate impact as president. She changed the dynamic of the campus and also devoted herself to addressing critical issues such as student enrollment and campus security.
Tributes Pour In
Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro described Epps’ tenure at Temple University as “a period of great success”. Shapiro expressed his condolences for the loss of Epps, and extended them to her family.
Jim Kenney, the Mayor of Philadelphia, expressed his sorrow and praised Epps for her inspirational leadership. He also emphasized Epps unwavering commitment. He echoes the collective loss of many people who had the pleasure of working and knowing Epps.
A Void that’s hard to Fill
In their official statement, Temple University emphasized the magnitude of the tragedy. Epps was not only a member but also a symbol for what Temple stood for, according to the university. While the university grieves, they find comfort in one another, hoping to honor Epps legacy.
While the Temple community, as well as Philadelphia in general, mourn this sudden loss of Epps, her memory serves to remind us of her contributions to leadership, social justice, and academia. Her work will inspire future generations of educators, students and leaders.