Oxford University drops Sackler name from buildings and staff posts after review

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The University of Oxford will remove the Sackler name from its buildings and staff posts following a review into its ties with the family.

It comes after a number of institutions have ended their relationships with the Sackler family in recent years over its association with the US opioid crisis.

The Sackler Library in Oxford, as well as a number of galleries and staff posts at the Ashmolean Museum in the city, will be renamed following the review.

Controversy has followed the Sacklers over their links to Purdue Pharma, which produces OxyContin, a painkiller that has been at the heart of multiple lawsuits relating to the US opioid crisis.

The university said donations received from the Sackler family and their trusts will be “retained by the university for their intended educational purposes”.

The Sackler name will be removed from six university buildings, spaces and staff posts, but it will be retained on the Clarendon Arch and on the Ashmolean Museum’s donor board for “the purposes of historical recording” of donations.

The statement on the institution’s website said: “Oxford University has undertaken a review of its relationship with the Sackler family and their trusts, including the way their benefactions to the University are recognised.

“Following this review, the university has decided that the university buildings, spaces and staff positions using the Sackler name will no longer do so.”

The review outcomes were approved by the university council on Monday.

For many years, the Sackler name was synonymous with huge charitable donations made by the family to galleries and museums around the world.

The university has come under pressure in recent years to remove the Sackler name from one of its libraries, two galleries and several staff positions.

In March 2022, the British Museum announced it was removing the Sackler name from “galleries, rooms and endowments they supported”.

The National Portrait Gallery, Tate and the Roundhouse are the institutions in the UK to have cut ties with the Sacklers in recent years.

An international response has also seen venues such as The Louvre museum in Paris and New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art distance themselves form the Sackler family.

As part of the university’s decision, the Sackler library has been renamed the Bodleian Art, Archaeology and Ancient World Library.

A statement from the University of Oxford said: “The review outcomes have had the full support of the Sackler family.”

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