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September 23, 2023

Funeral for JoAnne A. Epps, Temple University's president, to be held on Friday

A 'celebration of life' will be held at the Liacouras Center on Sept. 29; the longtime educator died Tuesday after falling ill during a campus event

Funerals Temple University
JoAnne Epps Funeral Details Source/Temple University

Funeral details for Temple University president JoAnne Epps, who died on Tuesday, have been announced. There will be public viewings followed by a 'celebration of life' at the Liacouras Center at 10 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 29.

Funeral arrangements have been made for JoAnne A. Epps, Temple University's president who died earlier this week after falling ill during a campus event, the university announced on Friday. 

Epps' family and the Temple University community will honor the longtime educator's life and legacy during public viewings at the Liacouras Center on Thursday, Sept. 28 from 1 to 7 p.m. and Friday, Sept. 29 from 8 to 10 a.m. Immediately after Friday's viewing, Temple will hold a "celebration of life" at the Liacouras Center, officials said in a post on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

All undergraduate and graduate classes will be canceled on Friday, while some medical students should check with their schools regarding planned clinical activities, The Temple News reported. Complimentary parking will be offered in the Liacouras Center Garage and 15th Street Lot, according to university officials. 

On Wednesday, more than 1,000 people attended a vigil for Epps at Temple's campus. Students, faculty, staff and alumni gathered to mourn and remember Epps' contributions to the Temple community. There, Epps' colleagues talked about her unwavering spirit and dedication to mentoring law students, young lawyers and recently-hired academic administrators. 

"We have all admired how she cared about the dignity of of every human being," Temple Chancellor Richard Englert said during the vigil. "We loved her passion for social justice for everyone. We were attracted to her humility and her brilliance — a combination few people have. Her compassion for the most vulnerable persons in our society is legendary and she had the knack of being able to inspire all of us to higher levels. JoAnne would not want us to simply grieve. She would want us to carry on, to push Temple to new heights." 

Epps, 72, died on Tuesday afternoon after falling ill during a campus memorial service for Charles L. Blockson, the curator of one of the most prestigious collections of African American artifacts in the country. After suffering a "sudden episode," Epps received emergency medical services before being transported to Temple University Hospital.

Once she was taken to the hospital, resuscitation efforts continued but her unsuccessful, said Daniel del Portal, an emergency physician at Temple Health. Epps was pronounced dead around 3:15 p.m. 

Earlier this year, Epps was named acting president of the university following the resignation of Jason Wingard. During a scheduled meeting on Oct. 1, the university's Board of Trustees will remove the "acting" from Epps' title and recognize her as the 13th president of the university. An emergency meeting will also be held next week to determine the university's next steps in choosing its 14th president. 

Epps, who graduated from Yale Law School in 1976, taught in Temple's Beasley School of Law for more than three decades. She acted as dean of the school from 2008 until she was appointed to executive vice president and provost of Temple University in 2016. Prior to that, Epps served as an assistant U.S. attorney in Philadelphia and a deputy city attorney in Los Angeles. 

"Like this special university that loved and shaped her, JoAnne Epps defies description," Marylouise Esten, Temple's chief of staff, said during Epps' vigil. "She was a woman with intellect, integrity, good instincts and good judgement. She was also a person of great humility. She knew her strengths and recognized her limitations. She trusted and inspired those who worked with her to live up to her example." 

Two scholarship funds — the JoAnne A. Epps School of Law Scholarship and the JoAnne A. Epps Undergraduate Scholarship — will be created to honor Epps' legacy at Temple and support students living out the university's mission, NBC10 reported.