For Ole Miss, Oxford: It’s time to act

Published 9:11 am Thursday, August 17, 2017

This isn’t about me. It isn’t even about my late son, William.

This is about your children and grandchildren, and tomorrow’s children and grandchildren.

This is about everyone who loves Ole Miss and Oxford. It is about taking a big step forward in the name of helping students, and our community.

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Alcohol and drug abuse is a widely recognized problem on college campuses nationwide and Ole Miss is no different. We see it here in our community most every day.

That’s why it’s time to act.

Together, we can change lives.

You may have heard about our son’s story, which has now been read online by more than 1 million people. William excelled in academics and athletics and was a member of a fraternity. But he also suffered from substance use disorder, which ultimately claimed his life in an accidental overdose at the age of 23.

Students managing the normal stressors of college life — moving away from home for the first time, maintaining good academic standing, developing relationships and holding part- or full-time employment — can sometimes turn to alcohol and drugs for several reasons, including managing academic pressures, fitting in and sleep assistance.

We’re working to increase drug and alcohol education and prevention through creation of the William Magee Center for Wellness Education at Ole Miss, which will be located in the new South Campus Recreation Center. Open in 2018, the recreation center will be adjacent to hiking, running and biking paths, providing an ideal positioning to address holistic wellness for our students.

The Center for Wellness Education at Ole Miss will honor William and all those who have had lives and dreams disrupted by substance use. But it is so much more than that, since the center is about the commitment to educate the whole person — mind and body — so that our students of today and tomorrow can live their best lives.

Today, please give large or small at, or for more information, contact Brett Barefoot, development director for parents and family leadership, at or 662-915-2711.

Already, some of your friends and neighbors have stepped up to lend a helping hand.

Not long after receiving both a blessing and empowerment from strong Ole Miss leaders like Chancellor Jeff Vitter, Vice Chancellor Brandi Hephner LaBanc and Assistant Vice Chancellor Leslie Banahan I reached out to friend Dick Scruggs, seeking guidance about how we could get this done.

Over the course of many months we met and talked and talked to others. He had good ideas, like Ole Miss hosting a national symposium on substance misuse. And why not reach for national excellence?

We are Ole Miss, after all.

Dick and his wife, Diane, also committed funds that are helping us see this could become a reality.

Soon, others join us in the movement, including The Oxford Treatment Center (American Addiction Centers), Cris and Jay Hughes, Becca Rasco Mehlin, and the Sigma Nu and Kappa Alpha fraternities.

Now, we are taking the movement to another level, since this is about the future of Ole Miss and the future of our community. Few things matter more than the wellness of our students and community and it is exciting to see so many people who care.

We hope you will join us in this important step for our great university and for our community by contributing in some way large or small.

David Magee is Publisher of The Oxford Eagle. He can be reached at