Alcohol and drug education programs will be expedited with a generous gift to the William Magee Center for Wellness Education Endowment.
“We believe there are a lot of students affected by substance abuse, whether that is personal use or suffering with family members’ or friends’ addictions. We must help them and their families obtain current information on the effects and consequences of alcohol and drug abuse,” said Chip Triplett of the Dr. and Mrs. Faser Triplett Foundation.
The Triplett Foundation awarded the center $750,000 to support the hiring of a health-education specialist, fund the planning of a national symposium at Ole Miss and cover expenses associated with the startup.
The foundation, named for the late Jackie and Faser Triplett of Jackson, Mississippi, is now managed by their children: Chip Triplett and Diane Holloway of Ridgeland, Mississippi; Suzy Fuller of Greenwood, South Carolina; Liz Walker of Jackson; and Lou Ann Woidtke of Madison, Mississippi.
The Magee Center, expected to open in 2019, is a tribute to William Magee, an Ole Miss Honors College alumnus who lost his life at 23 years of age to an overdose in 2013.
“We knew the story of William Magee, and it was especially moving to hear the story from his parents, Kent and David Magee,” Triplett said. “It is remarkable that while dealing with such sorrow they are trying to prevent this tragic loss from happening to another member of the Ole Miss family.
“Substance abuse is a national problem, and we want those who come here to be cared for in the best possible way. We all have nieces, nephews, children and grandchildren at Ole Miss.”
Triplett said he and his siblings believe the Magee Center is uniquely positioned to provide this service.
“We know the Magee Center will reach young students at Ole Miss and guide them in a positive direction so they’ll become the best young adults they can be.”
Brett Barefoot, the development officer who worked with the Magee family to secure more than $2 million in cash and pledges for the center, is grateful for the response from the Triplett family and others.
“The issue of substance abuse is a concern on every college campus and across our society. Some aspect of this issue is literally reported daily on the national news.
“The Ole Miss family always responds to the needs of young people, but reaction to this issue has been especially strong and truly inspiring,” Barefoot said. “Our university is deeply committed to helping our students live their best lives, and we ask others to consider making a gift to help continue building resources for the Magee Center.”
To reach students, the center will use a portion of the Triplett Foundation gift to hire a certified health-education specialist who will oversee two graduate assistants. This team of three new staff members, working in conjunction with current wellness staff, will be responsible for managing the center’s alcohol and other drug (AOD) prevention, intervention and outreach.
The team also will help facilitate RebelADE, a program for students who have been sanctioned due to a substance abuse violation. Additionally, it will manage a student organization of wellness ambassadors trained to help their peers understand issues related to AOD, physical and sexual health, nutrition, and more.
Another portion of the Triplett Foundation gift will be used to implement and host a biannual national symposium designed to enable institutions of higher learning across the nation to exchange ideas regarding substance use, prevention, intervention and recovery.
“I think the most important piece of that is just bringing knowledge from experts who are having similar challenges on their college campuses,” said Erin Cromeans, UM assistant director for wellness education. “Maybe they’re doing something a little differently or more innovatively than what we’re doing; that shared information is going to be crucial to keeping up with the trends that will help meet our students’ needs.”
Lastly, the Triplett gift will enable the center to buy education materials, programming and technology.
“Our efforts to educate students about the risks of alcohol and other drugs are always a top priority as wellness education is never ending and is deeply rooted in student success,” said UM Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Brandi Hephner LaBanc.
“On behalf of the university, I want to thank the Tripletts for their generosity; their gift will help us educate students and serve those in need,” she said. “Above all, their support will help us magnify William Magee’s story so other students can make healthy decisions and excel academically.”
This recent gift to alcohol and drug education reflects the Triplett family’s strong commitment to improving the lives of others. Last year the siblings directed a $1 million gift to the Campaign for Children’s of Mississippi at the University of Mississippi Medical Center to support the expansion of Children’s Hospital. They also helped establish the R. Faser Triplett Sr. Chair of Allergy and Immunology in honor of their father.
The William Magee Center for Wellness Education – which is part of the new South Campus Recreation Center (SCRC) – accepts gifts from individuals and organizations by mailing a check with the center’s name in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; or online at give.olemiss.edu.
For more information contact Brett Barefoot, development director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 662-915-2711.
By Bill Dabney