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William Magee Center for Wellness Education Offers Holistic Approach to End Substance Abuse

By Anna Grace Usery

With the opening of new, innovative drug and alcohol wellness center on campus, the University of Mississippi now gets to redefine how they mitigate addictions on campus. 

The University of Mississippi unveils the new William Magee Center for Wellness Education on Friday (Sept. 6). The alcohol and other drugs education and prevention facility is housed in the new South Campus Recreation Center and will strengthen wellness resources and support to Ole Miss students. Photo courtesy University Development.

The William Magee Center for Wellness Education celebrates its grand opening in the new recreation facility, located at the former Whirpool property, today at 4 p.m. The center’s namesake, William Magee, died of an accidental overdose in 2013 after graduating from the University of Mississippi. Aside from his genuine personality and dedicated work ethic, he was an honors student in the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, ran track for Ole Miss and garnered a spot early on on the SEC academic honor roll. He also was a brother in the Ole Miss Sigma Nu fraternity.

His death sparked the need for changing how the university community counseled its students with addiction issues. According to new research about drugs and alcohol on campuses across the country, alcohol use since the early ’90s has slowly declined but drug use has skyrocketed. The Magee family took notice, worked with the university and developed a plan to help end the rising trends. 

Kent Magee, William’s mother, said she is excited to bring a more holistic approach to drug and alcohol education to campus.

“It’s our hope that students leave more well-rounded than when they arrived, not just in their fields of study but that they establish healthy patterns for a healthy mind,” she said.

UM Administrators have a good idea what the research indicates when it comes to student drug use, Magee said, which propelled the Magee Center into fruition.

“Drugs and alcohol are not rites of passages for the ‘college experience’,” she said. “The Magee Center hopes to provide education and peer support for a better understanding of the dangers of these substances.

“We know the climate we have now did not happen overnight and it’s not going to be remedied overnight,” she said.

To combat this, the new center will offer evidence-based education, prevention and intervention initiatives. These measures will be in the form of support, counseling, treatment and outside referrals to assists students as they need. In turn, this helps foster accountability for outcomes related to substance-use decisions.

The Magee Center was funded, in part, by individuals members of the community and organizations who recognized the need for substance education. By October 2017, more than $340,000 had been raised through Ignite! Ole Miss, the university’s crowdfunding campaign. An addition $550,000 in gift previous to the Ignite campaign propelled the total to almost $900,000.

Donors included William’s parents Kent and David Magee, Diane and Dick Scruggs, and Cris and Jay Hughes, all of Oxford; Becca and Phil Mehlin of Little Rock, Arkansas; American Addiction Centers of Brentwood, Tennessee, owner of the Oxford Treatment Center’s residential center and outpatient clinics; and the Sigma Nu and Kappa Alpha fraternities.

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