Students gathered outside on Main Campus on a sunny spring day

President JoAnne A. Epps

JoAnne A. Epps, Temple University’s 13th President

The entire university community is mourning the sudden loss of JoAnne A. Epps, Temple University’s 13th president. President Epps stepped into the role of acting president in April 2023, and was leading the university toward a positive transformation. We encourage all to read more about her life and legacy at Temple.

Prior to serving as president, she was the dean of the Beasley School of Law, and senior advisor to the president. From 2016 to 2021, she served as the executive vice president and provost of Temple University. 

a headshot of Acting President JoAnne Epps

Commitment to Temple

As the university’s chief academic officer, Epps oversaw faculty affairs, student affairs, enrollment management and computer services, with an overarching student-focused approach. She worked with deans, faculty and university administrators on matters related to the curriculum, teaching and learning, and faculty research. During her tenure as provost, she continued to be an outspoken advocate for educational access and affordability. She was integral in helping lead Temple through the COVID-19 pandemic and was chair of the executive planning committee for the university’s strategic planning process.

From 2008 to 2016, Epps served as dean of the Beasley School of Law, during which time she was an outspoken advocate for legal education that emphasized institutional responsiveness over a one-size-fits-all curricular model. In 2017, The National Jurist named her among the top 10 most influential people in legal education, marking Epps’ fifth consecutive year on the list. Her commitment to curricular innovation garnered Temple significant praise, in particular for its innovative first-year courses and nationally recognized clinical opportunities. 

Under Epps, the law school surged in national rankings, moving into the U.S. News and World Report Top 50; expanded its experiential offerings; and significantly enhanced its business and transactional law curriculum, while retaining its status as a national leader in trial advocacy. Epps also championed the creation of the Stephen and Sandra Sheller Center for Social Justice at Temple Law School, a hub for social justice inquiry and advocacy. 

Leadership and Influence

Before teaching at Temple, Epps was an assistant U.S. attorney in Philadelphia and deputy city attorney in Los Angeles.

Apart from her roles at Temple, for more than three decades, Epps served the city of Philadelphia in a variety of capacities. From 2015 to 2017, she was the inaugural chair of Philadelphia’s Police Oversight Board, formed in response to a Justice Department report about Philadelphia police shootings. Appointed by the United States District Court, from 2011 to 2019, Epps served as monitor of the city of Philadelphia’s compliance with the settlement of Bailey v. city of Philadelphia, litigation challenging the city’s stop-and-frisk procedures. She has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Defender Association of Philadelphia since 1991, and from 1999 to 2006 served as board president. In 2001, Epps was appointed by Philadelphia Mayor John Street to serve as chair of the Mayor’s Task Force on Police Discipline.

She was a member of the Pennsylvania Judicial Independence Commission; the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Committee to Promote Fairness in the Judiciary; the Pennsylvania Commission for Justice Initiatives; the Advisory Council for the Pennsylvania Prison Society; and the Advisory Board of the Public Interest Law Center. She became an officer of the Pennsylvania Women’s Forum in 2010 and, in 2013, became the forum’s president. She also served as a member of the board of directors for the Committee of Seventy and as a member of the Salvation Army of Greater Philadelphia Advisory Board. For these and other significant contributions to the commonwealth, in 2012, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett named Epps a Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania. 

Epps’ professional leadership and influence extended far beyond Temple and Philadelphia. Long a champion for women and minorities within the profession, she served in numerous roles in service to the legal profession, including leadership roles in the American Bar Association, the National Association of Women Lawyers and the American Law Institute affiliate, ALI-ABA. In recognition of this service, Epps has been awarded a 2015 Spirit of Excellence Award by the American Bar Association, the 2015 M. Ashley Dickerson Award by the National Association of Women Lawyers and the 2014 Justice Sonia Sotomayor Diversity Award by the Philadelphia Bar Association. She was a three-time honoree by Lawyers of Color Magazine as one of the 100 most influential Black lawyers in the country. In 2009, the Philadelphia Bar Association recognized Epps’ efforts by honoring her with the Sandra Day O’Connor Award, conferred annually on “a woman attorney who has demonstrated superior legal talent, achieved significant legal accomplishments and has furthered the advancement of women in both the profession and the community.” 

A native of Cheltenham, Pennsylvania, Professor Epps received her BA from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut in 1973 and was a 1976 graduate of Yale Law School.