Foundation Gift to Help Students Face Substance Abuse Challenges

Major commitment to benefit Magee Center efforts

The Triplett siblings – (from left) Lou Ann Woidtke, Liz Walker, Suzy Fuller, Diane Holloway and Chip Triplett – have made a generous gift to the William Magee Center for Wellness Education Endowment at UM to fund alcohol and drug education programs. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – Alcohol and drug education programs at the University of Mississippi 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,” said Chip Triplett of the Dr. and Mrs. Faser Triplett Foundation. “We must help them and their families obtain current information on the effects and consequences of alcohol and drug abuse.”

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, is managed by their children: Chip Triplett and Diane Holloway, of Ridgeland; Suzy Fuller, of Greenwood, South Carolina; Liz Walker, of Jackson; and Lou Ann Woidtke, of Madison.

The Magee Center, expected to open this year, is a tribute to William Magee, an alumnus of the university’s Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College who lost his life 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,” Barefoot said. “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. 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 staff members, working in conjunction with other wellness staff, will be responsible for managing the center’s alcohol and other drug, or AOD, prevention, intervention and outreach.

The team also will help facilitate RebelADE, a program for students who have been sanctioned because of a substance abuse violation. Additionally, it will manage a student organization of wellness ambassadors trained to help 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 allow 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 Brandi Hephner LaBanc, vice chancellor of student affairs.

“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. 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 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 UM 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, part of the new South Campus Recreation Center, accepts gifts from individuals and organizations. Donors can mail a check with the center’s name in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; or give online at

For more information, contact Brett Barefoot at or 662-915-2711.