Six years after grave loss, the Ole Miss community is coming together to build a culture of care.
In 2013, William Magee died of an accidental overdose; he was 23 years old. Magee was a student in the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and the Croft Institute for International Studies, as well as a member of the Ole Miss Men’s Track team, the SEC academic honor roll and Sigma Nu fraternity. Magee’s family stated he was a strong source of light, laughter and love in every life he touched.
David and Kent Magee, William’s parents, began sharing their son’s story and started fundraising campaigns for the William Magee Wellness Center in 2017. Ten University of Mississippi Greek organizations are Magee Center donors, as well as many university alumni, students and the Magee family themselves. Six years following William Magee’s passing, the William Magee Wellness Center officially opened on Friday.
The William Magee Wellness Center is dedicated to serving as a source of information for students about substance misuse prevention, while also providing support and research opportunities in a collegiate environment.
“As an institution of higher learning, we have a great responsibility,” said Larry Sparks, Interim Chancellor. Chancellor Sparks called the Magee Center a model for universities throughout the nation.
Brandi Hephner LaBanc, vice chancellor for student affairs, said several students have already sought out help at the center.
“We witness the immediate impact and future opportunity and are committed to building a culture of care,” LeBanc said. “The program style is apathetic, not confrontational, in order to build this community of care.”
William’s father, David Magee, gave a heartfelt dedication at the ribbon cutting.
“Tears of hopes and dreams of helping the people around us have been poured into a puddle before us,” Magee said, speaking of the opening of the center during its dedication ceremony. Magee expressed sincere gratitude for those involved in the grassroots movement that helped create the Magee Center.
Many students stand steadfast alongside the center’s purpose, and expressed their hopes for its success in terms of being a helping hand among the student body.
Sarah Schofield, an Ole Miss law student, believes that “more universities should prioritize mental health and holistic wellbeing.”
“It’s great that Ole Miss is dedicated to supporting its students in every way possible,” Schofield said.
The William Magee Wellness Center is open daily, located in the new South Campus Recreation Center.
“The greatest resource at the University of Mississippi is our student body,” said Seth Dickinson, an Ole Miss law student. “Our Creed boldly states our commitment to good stewardship of our resources, and I am confident that the center will contribute to the wellbeing of our greatest one.”