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JoAnne Epps named Temple University's acting president

JoAnne Epps hopes to help enrollment and address crime concerns as Temple's acting president
JoAnne Epps hopes to help enrollment and address crime concerns as Temple's acting president 02:03

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- JoAnne Epps was named Temple University's acting president, the Board of Trustees announced Tuesday. She will begin serving in the role immediately. 

"It means so much to me to be offered this opportunity to be continue to lead this great institution," Epps said. 

Epps, 71, joined Temple's faculty in 1985. 

Epps was appointed dean of Temple Beasley School of Law in 2008 and named provost in 2016. She served as the provost until August 2021 after she was replaced by Gregory Mandel.

"I am going to be focusing on safety, I'm going to be focusing on enrollment but my way of starting and my way of leading is going to be to listen," said Epps, whose mother worked at Temple as a secretary.  

Epps temporarily replaces Jason Wingard, the university's first Black president who resigned last month in less than two years amid a tenure filled with criticisms from students, faculty and alumni, including facing a no-confidence vote by Temple's faculty union.

The Temple faculty union still plans to hold the vote of no confidence on Mandel and Board chair Mitchell Morgan Friday. 

Before Temple, Epps was the assistant U.S. Attorney in Philadelphia and a deputy city attorney in Los Angeles. 

Epps has requested that the Special Committee of the Board continue its work and support her admnstatraion as it seeks to address enrollment falling and crime increasing in the surrounding areas around the North Philadelphia campus.  

Earlier this year, Temple Police Sgt. Christopher Fitzgerald was fatally shot on the job, and Temple student Samuel Collington was killed in a shooting in 2021 north of campus. 

Epps' interim job likely will last through the fall semester but could go longer. She said she wouldn't be a candidate for the permanent position.  

The Board of Trustees said Epps has agreed to serve until a new president is appointed. The university plans to launch a national search for a new president over the next few weeks. 

Students said they welcome the change at Temple, hoping Epps can improve safety. 

"Almost every single night there is an alert, like there is a robbery or shooting," Brianna Edwards, a senior, said. 

Epps said she didn't campaign for the job, but said she will do her part to leave the school in a better place for her successor, hoping to spur a next generation of leaders in the process. 

"I grew up at a time when girls weren't encouraged to dream this big and I really hope that one of the things I can continue to do is inspire young people coming behind me to dream about what you might want to do," Epps said.

Who is JoAnne Epps, Temple University's new acting president? 02:16
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