Bishop State Community College President Dr. James Lowe has died, according to school officials. He had served in his current position since he was appointed in 2008 by U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne, during his tenure over Alabama’s two-year college system.

“My heart is full of sadness this evening because I’ve lost a personal friend and the entire Mobile community has lost a remarkable leader,” Byrne said in a statement. “I can honestly say that Jim Lowe was the most decent, honorable man I have ever known.”

Bishop State President, Dr. James Lowe.

Bishop State President, Dr. James Lowe.

Lowe specialized in fixing struggling systems, spending eight years with the two-year college system and more than 20 decades with the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE). Byrne, who has maintained a personal and political relationship with Lowe, went on to credit him with turning Bishop State around after finding it in “complete disarray” when he arrived in 2008.

“There was an ongoing corruption investigation by the Mobile District Attorney’s office, they were on Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) probation, and they literally had to run Bishop State week to week financially. Without his leadership, Bishop State would have had to close its doors,” Byrne said. “He has completely turned the school around and placed a real focus on boosting skills training, especially in terms of manufacturing.”

Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson also expressed condolences after the news of Lowe’s death.

“I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Jim Lowe,” Stimpson said. “Dr. Lowe served with distinction as a leader at Bishop State and in the Mobile community, where he will be missed. He was a true partner in the effort to improve education and workforce development in Mobile. We worked together to strengthen ties between Bishop State and the City of Mobile. Dr. Lowe was an enthusiastic supporter of a coalition formed between my administration and our local universities to expand their community service. On my behalf, and that of the Mobile City Council and the citizens of Mobile, I offer my sympathies to his family, colleagues and friends.”

No details have been released on the cause of Lowe’s passing, and as of now no funeral arrangements have been set.