Posted September 22, 2023

The media and community honor the legacy and leadership of President JoAnne A. Epps

Government leaders and journalists from Philadelphia and beyond came together to remember President Epps.

Image of President Epps.
Photography By: 
Ryan S. Brandenberg

The passing of Temple President JoAnne A. Epps brought members of the media and the community together in remembrance of her contributions to the university and beyond. 

Journalists, government officials and the Temple community shared messages of love and respect for Epps through social media channels and in the news. Friends and colleagues expressed heartfelt messages honoring her indelible impact and spirit. 

Here is a snapshot of how President Epps was recognized and celebrated in recent days. 

The Philadelphia Inquirer remembered JoAnne’s “long distinguished career” while also highlighting remarks from individuals in the Temple community, such as Mitchell L. Morgan, chair of the Temple Board of Trustees, and Jeffrey Doshna, president of the Temple Association of University Professionals.  

“A lot of us came to know her as a colleague and friend,” said Doshna. “She absolutely changed the tone and tenor of things on campus.” 

“She was our light at the end of the tunnel,” added Morgan. 

In the same article, Speaker of the Pennsylvania House Joanna McClinton celebrated Epps’ dedication to “championing women and people of color in the legal profession and inspiring a generation of leaders.”

She was one of the most remarkably compassionate and caring individuals I’ve ever known,” Temple University Provost Gregory Mandel said as he choked up while describing Epps, reported 6ABC. “To know JoAnne is to be her friend.” 

CNN highlighted a statement from Temple University’s senior vice president and chief operating officer, Ken Kaiser. 

JoAnne embodied everything that is great about Temple University, rising from working in the bookstore more than 40 years ago to the office of the president,” said Kaiser. ”No one was more beloved at our university than JoAnne was.” 

JoAnne A. Epps is remembered as a leader, mentor and icon,” headlines a remembrance piece by The Philadelphia Business Journal

“She was tireless and passionate about the issues she held dear,” Jacqueline C. Romero, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, said in the piece. “[JoAnne] was an icon in the legal community, dedicating her life to public service, the rule of law, experiential legal education, equity and diversity in the profession, and the advancement of civil rights.” 

Several other leaders from the Pennsylvania and local governments joined in the remembrance and celebration of Epps’ life.

During her time as dean of Temple Law School, she was a strong partner in our judicial education efforts, working to prepare the next generation of legal professionals to join us as active members of the organized bar,” Chief Justice of Pennsylvania Debra Todd commented in a press release by the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts. “She served the students, faculty and our legal community with honor and distinction and was well known and widely respected for her commitment and dedication to Temple University and the practice of law.” 

A news release from the Pennsylvania House Democratic Caucus included remembrances and appreciations from Reps. Danilo Burgos, Morgan Cephas and Malcolm Kenyatta.  

“Her dedication to propel excellence in education for our community was unparalleled,” Rep. Burgos said. 

“JoAnne A. Epps was more than just a leader to the community, but was a friend and mentor,” said Rep. Kenyatta. “The world is missing one of its bright lights with the loss of JoAnne. I will miss her always.” 

“Epps’ contributions and legacy in the field of education will be remembered and continue to influence many,” added Rep. Cephas. 

The Mount Rushmore of social justice change agents must now carve out a space for her,” Chad Dion Lassiter, executive director of The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, said in a statement. “Even in her new role as president, I was always amazed at how she would respond to my texts and emails, given the demands on her. Her emails, her encouraging texts and how she touched so many will never be forgotten.” 

KYW Newsradio reported that the community remembers Epps as an “unwavering and steady voice of reason and a champion for the success of her students” and included a statement from former Temple President Richard Englert, which he shared during the vigil held for Epps on Sept. 20, 2023. 

“Even in her passing she brought all of us together in love and common purpose,” Englert said. 

Social media swarmed with messages. Here are some highlights. 

  • JoAnne A. Epps was a powerful force and constant ambassador for Temple University for nearly four decades,” posted Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro.
  • She was a passionate and steadfast leader who inspired many. I feel fortunate to have known her,” posted Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney.
  • [President Epps] was an excellent public servant. Beloved by all who knew her. Her legacy will never be forgotten,” posted Senator John Fetterman. 
  • Such a tragic loss. As the home for many students in Chester and Berks, @TempleUniv is a valued institution in our community,” posted Representative Chrissy Houlahan.
  • JoAnne A. Epps was a pillar of strength, inspiration and compassion for Temple University,” posted Lieutenant Governor Austin Davis.
  • [President Epps] stepped up at a time of upheaval to help bring stability and hope,” posted Philadelphia City Councilmember Kendra Brooks.  
  • Of all her accolades, power and position never meant more than connecting with people,” posted Senator Sharif Street. 
  • [President Epps] was an amazing woman and educator and this is a terrible loss. May she rest in peace and may her memory be a blessing,” posted political activist and journalist Victoria Brownworth. 
  • My heart is heavy hearing the loss of @TempleUniv acting President Epps,” posted Congress Representative Madeleine Dean. 
  • I’m saddened by the loss of Temple University’s acting president, Dr. JoAnne Epps, and offer my sympathies and prayers to her family and the Temple community,” posted Congressman Dwight Evans. 
  • JoAnne Epps leaves an indelible mark on @TempleUniv, on the field of law and on the Philadelphia region,” posted state Sen. Nikil Saval. 
  • I met JoAnne Epps when I was a 17-year-old freshman at @TempleUniv. Though our titles have changed over the years one thing never did, and that was she was always a friend and a mentor,” posted state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta.
  • The Phillies extend our heartfelt condolences on JoAnne's untimely passing,” posted the Philadelphia Phillies.  
  • We are deeply saddened by the loss JoAnne A. Epps ’73, acting president of Temple University, who passed away today,” posted Trinity College. 
  • We extend our sincere condolences & deepest sympathy to the family of Acting @TempleUniv President JoAnne Epps & TU family on the loss of a powerful leader in law and education,” posted the School District of Philadelphia. 
  • CSD mourns the loss of Dr. JoAnne Epps, CHS Class of 1969 and venerable member of our Hall of Fame,” posted Cheltenham School District.