Oxford University had a Sackler Library, two Sackler galleries, a Sackler officer and a Sackler keeper of antiquities.
But after the family’s name — an acknowledgment to the dynasty’s generous donations — came under scrutiny because of some of its members’ ties to the opioid crisis in the United States, Oxford announced on Monday that it would drop mention of it from several of its buildings and staff positions.
Oxford “has decided that the university buildings, spaces and staff positions using the Sackler name will no longer do so,” it said in a statement.
Oxford said it had received donations from the Sacklers and related trusts that ranged from 10 to 15 million pounds (about $12 million to $19 million) since 1993.
The elite British university has become the latest in a long series of institutions to publicly distance themselves from the family, a philanthropic giant whose members led Purdue Pharma, the now bankrupt company that made OxyContin. The drug fueled an opioid crisis that has killed hundreds of thousands of people in the United States.
In 2019, the Louvre in Paris became the first major museum to remove the name of the family from its walls. Tate museums in London decided that they would no longer accept gifts from the family, and Britain’s National Portrait Gallery canceled a planned $1.3 million donation.
In the United States, institutions such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, and the American Museum of Natural History also distanced themselves from the family.
Last year George Osborne, the chair of London’s British Museum, said that the Sackler name would be removed from the galleries, rooms and endowments the family supported. But last February, an investigation by The Financial Times revealed that Oxford had continued to extend invitations to a Sackler family member in the past two years.
The University said it came to the decision to remove the family’s name after a review of its relationship with the Sacklers and their trusts, “including the way their benefactions to the university are recognized.”
The Sackler Library will be renamed the Bodleian Art, Archaeology and Ancient World Library, the university said.
A spokesman for the family of Dr. Mortimer Sackler, one of Purdue Pharma’s founders, was not immediately available for comment.
In the statement, Oxford said that it would keep donations it received from the Sackler family and their trusts “for their intended educational purposes,” and that no new donations have been received from the family since January 2019.
Oxford University said that the Sackler name will be kept on the Clarendon Arch, a slate tablet near the entrance of the Bodleian Library, and on the Ashmolean Museum’s donor board that is displayed for “the purposes of historical recording of donations to the university.”
- Oxford University Removes Sackler Name From Buildings
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