Matthew Galtney was a kind soul who was always there for others, and that legacy is being expanded after his death in hopes of reaching other students struggling with addiction.
His parents, Christy and Matt Galtney, and his aunt and uncle, Elizabeth and Will Galtney, all of Houston, Texas, have given $100,000 to create the Pascal Matthew Galtney, Jr. Endowment at the University of Mississippi to develop a video peer-to-peer education program in the William Magee Institute for Student Wellbeing.
Matthew Galtney died of accidental poisoning in January 2023; he took one antianxiety pill that was laced with fentanyl.
“That wasn’t his plan,” said his dad. “Matthew had come home for his grandfather’s funeral. Our family had been out at a restaurant the night before, and he said, ‘I love you guys.’ He had such a big heart and was so full of life. Matthew was always the first person to help someone.”
His mom agreed, saying he would be the last person to leave someone who was hurting.
“He always was the friend who listened the most or when everyone else left, he was still right there,” she recalled. “He’s looking down on us and saying, ‘I’m so happy you all are doing something to help other people.’ He would love to have his name on this endowment that’s giving back to something that was really a struggle for him.”
In the video recording program, college students share their stories and struggles to let other students across the country know they are not alone. The videos will be uploaded to the Institute’s website and YouTube channel and posted on social media platforms.
“It always helps when you see someone who has had struggles and is now thriving,” said Christy Galtney. “Students need to hear someone say, ‘This is not the end of your world — this is just a piece of the puzzle. You are so much more than this addiction.’”
The William Magee Institute for Student Wellbeing was created at Ole Miss to become a recognized innovative education and stigma-reduction research unit to create new knowledge that helps students find personal contentment. The video peer-to-peer education program is in its preliminary development phase, with current peer-educator team members reporting they are excited to finalize content and start delivering messaging to students, said Meagen Rosenthal, interim director of the Magee Institute.
“The program’s goal is to provide a low-stakes way for students to learn about important wellness information from people like them,” she said. “Research evidence for the value of peer-to-peer is strong, and with this program, we are adding in a new modality (video) to deliver this information to more students.
“We at the William Magee Institute are incredibly grateful for the Galtney family’s support in developing this program. Thanks to their vision, we can explore this opportunity to improve students’ well-being,” Rosenthal said.
“The Magee Institute is a needed resource on all college campuses,” said Matt Galtney, who has been in recovery for 24 years. “If we can help any college student, high school student or anyone struggling with addiction, we would love to do that. Addiction is such a lonely path with lots of fear, shame, guilt and pain; it’s so isolating. That’s why so many adults and kids find it difficult to say, ‘I have a problem.’”
Ole Miss alumnus Will Galtney remembered his nephew fondly.
“Elizabeth and I are honored to participate in this worthy endowment in memory of Matthew. Matthew never missed a family gathering. He always had a huge smile and a loving heart for each of us. The Magee Institute is the type of organization that he would wholeheartedly support as it’s making a difference in the lives of our young people who are struggling with addiction and purpose,” he said.
The Galtney family has deep roots at Ole Miss, with Matt Galtney’s parents, brother Will and sister Ginny earning degrees on the Oxford campus. They are longtime donors to academic and athletic programs. Matthew Galtney attended Ole Miss briefly; his younger brother Charles is now a junior.
Matthew Galtney, who excelled in finance, was pursuing a degree from the University of St. Thomas at the time of his death and had completed an internship at the Fitzpatrick Group. He also enjoyed history and sports statistics.
He was described as an “all-in guy” and “all gas no brakes.” A competitive person, Matthew played football and baseball throughout his life and enjoyed watching college football. He also liked to work, said his family.
“He loved his family and was such a great brother to Charles and his older sister, Alexandra. And, he loved his friends; Matthew definitely had a passion for people,” said his mom. “We think about Matthew every day whether it’s something hilarious he did that makes us laugh or whether we’re heartbroken and cry.”
Christy Galtney said her son was at the best point in his life when his death occurred, sharing another perspective on addiction.
“It gives me peace to know Matthew was really happy when he passed away,” she said. “He lived in Aspen and had a great job first at the Roaring Fork Club and then at the Little Nell. He had a great sober coach. He was just really doing well. It just shows you that addiction can hit at unexpected moments.”
To contribute to the Pascal Matthew Galtney, Jr. Endowment, send a check to the University of Mississippi Foundation, with the fund’s name written in the memo line, to 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; or online here.
For more information on how to support the William Magee Institute for Student Wellbeing, contact Brett Barefoot, executive director of central development, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 662-915-2711.
By Tina H. Hahn/UM Development