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Gathering at the construction site of the South Campus Recreation Facility where the William Magee Center for Wellness Education will be housed are (from left) Brett Barefoot, UM development officer for parents and family leadership; Billy Young, co-founder and CEO, Dr. Stephen Pannel, medical director from the AAC-owned Oxford Treatment Center; Jay and Cris Hughes, Kent and David Magee, and Diane and Dick Scruggs, all donors; and Brandi Hephner LaBanc, vice chancellor for student affairs. UM photo by Bill Dabney
American Addiction Centers (AAC), parent company of Oxford Treatment Center, is partnering in new efforts to help college students avoid addiction to drugs and alcohol.
AAC is among initial donors for a new wellness center at the University of Mississippi. The university wants to be more proactive in educating students about addiction, as well as providing early intervention for students who develop drug or alcohol problems.
AAC is supporting that goal with a $100,000 gift toward the William Magee Center for Wellness Education. The UM Office of Development announced its fundraising campaign on Aug. 16. It is seeking to raise $1.5 million by the fall semester 2018, when the center is expected to open. More than a third of that goal has already been reached.
AAC CEO Michael Cartwright said support for the Magee Center was a natural fit for the company. AAC’s Oxford Treatment Center has four locations in Mississippi, including an outpatient center just six miles from the Ole Miss campus.
“Helping college students break free from drug and alcohol problems, especially in our home communities, is something we believe in,” Cartwright said.
At Oxford Treatment Center, residential programs include a tailored treatment track and dedicated clinical staff for young adults ages 18-25. Its Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP) provide continuing care. For less acute problems, after-hours IOP offers a way to stay in school while receiving treatment in the evenings.
Oxford Treatment Center has also provided support for the Collegiate Recovery Community at Ole Miss. The CRC helps people in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction go back to school successfully. It offers scholarships, academic support and sober activities.
Billy Young, co-founder and CEO of Oxford Treatment Center, said addiction affects young people from every background.
“In the work we do, we see the ways drugs and alcohol can hijack the future of young people,” he said. “The University of Mississippi is taking a bold step to intervene, and we’re committed to supporting this effort in every way we can.”
The new wellness center will bear the name of an Ole Miss student athlete and honors college graduate who succumbed to drug overdose four years ago at age 23. William Magee’s parents, Kent and David Magee of Oxford, are spearheading the initiative to help save other lives through their son’s legacy.
“We don’t want other students to suffer like he did, or other families to suffer like we have,” David Magee wrote in a 2016 newspaper column that’s been read more than 1 million times.
“I wish I could reach out and touch every freshman to tell them William’s story, to tell them that alcohol and drug binging and abuse isn’t a collegiate rite of passage, or a contextual excuse,” he wrote. “It can be a dangerous if not deadly path that is hard to escape.”
Learn more about plans for the William Magee Center for Wellness Education at the University of Mississippi
Give to the effort online