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Richard Englert returning as Temple University president following loss of JoAnne Epps

Temple University names Richard Englert as president after passing of JoAnne Epps
Temple University names Richard Englert as president after passing of JoAnne Epps 00:36

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- A former Temple University president is stepping back into the role as the school weathers a sudden loss.

The university's Board of Trustees appointed Richard Englert as Temple's transitional president on Tuesday, saying he will carry on the work that the late President JoAnne Epps started "and provide a steady hand of leadership while the search for Temple's next chief executive continues."

Epps, 72, died suddenly last week after becoming ill at a memorial service for a historian. A former federal prosecutor and dean of the Beasley School of Law, Epps was said to be a "calming force" at the university. Her loss was particularly felt in the legal community.

"During this time of deep sorrow, we are immensely grateful to Dr. Englert for answering the call, as he always has, to lead the Temple community forward," Mitchell L. Morgan, chair of the Board of Trustees, said in a letter to the community.

RELATED: Funeral arrangements for late Temple President JoAnne Epps announced

In a vigil last week at the university's Bell Tower, Englert paid tribute to Epps, noting she displayed humility, brilliance, warmth and compassion, kept to her faith and often said "God is good."

"JoAnne Epps was small in stature, but she had broad shoulders and an even bigger heart," Englert said. "She had the knack of being able to inspire all of us to higher levels."

Englert was Temple's 11th president, serving from 2016 to 2021 after the resignation of Neil Theobald. The university hired Jason Wingard, the school's first Black president, to succeed Englert. 

Englert then continued as chancellor.

He first came to Temple in 1976 as an assistant to the dean in the College of Education.

Morgan's letter says the search for the next president should be completed in the spring of 2024.

Englert sent a statement to the Temple community on Tuesday morning.

Our hearts are heavy with the sudden loss of President JoAnne A. Epps, whose legacy and contributions to Temple University will continue to inspire us. I hope you will be able to attend the celebration of her life planned for 10 a.m. Friday in the Liacouras Center.

I am honored to again lead this outstanding institution. I have witnessed the unwavering passion and resilience of our students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends. It is these qualities that make our university exceptional, and I am eager to work alongside you to further our mission of access, academic excellence, research and community engagement.

In the coming weeks and months, I look forward to engaging with you, hearing your perspectives and working together to achieve our shared goals. Let us harness our strengths, foster scholarship and learning, and build a brighter future for Temple University.

Thank you for all you do and your commitment to our beloved institution. Together, we will continue to rise.

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