Dr. Randall J. Webb, the longest-serving president in the history of Northwestern State University, has died in Shreveport after a lengthy illness. He was 72.

Dr. Webb held the position from July 1, 1996, to December 31, 2014, before handing the reigns over to current NSU President Jim Henderson.

"Tonia and I and the entire Northwestern family of students, faculty, staff and alumni extend to Dr. Webb's wife Brenda, his daughters, grandchildren and other loved ones our heartfelt sympathy in this time of grief," Dr. Henderson said. "We also express our deepest appreciation and gratitude for Dr. Webb's service, leadership and meaningful and beneficial influence on the university throughout his lifetime."

Henderson calls Webb an icon in the long history of NSU and the Natchitoches community. He says in Dr. Webb's 18 years as head of the university, he expanded and enhanced academic and athletic programs, spearheaded the most successful fund-raising campaigns in the history of the school and was at the forefront of dramatic growth in enrollment and expansion and improvement of physical facilities.

State Senator Gerald Long of Natchitoches met Webb when the two were undergraduates at NSU and maintained a friendship for more than 50 years. He praised Webb's dedication to the university.

"I have never known a person more passionate about his calling in life," Sen. Long said. "He was devoted to his school and was Northwestern State's most loyal supporter. The level of leadership he provided Northwestern State can never be measured."

We'll let you know as soon as funeral arrangements are announced.