The University of Oxford will cut its ties with the Sackler family, whose wealth comes from addictive opioid drugs, removing the family’s name from buildings, galleries and positions funded by their donations.
The university’s governing council approved the move to remove the Sackler name from two galleries at the Ashmolean Museum and a university library as well as several staff positions, following an investigation earlier this year by the new vice-chancellor. – chancellor of Oxford, Prof Irene Tracey.
The move follows continued criticism of Oxford’s retention of names, as major institutions such as the British Museum and the V&A removed the Sackler titles after recognizing that the fund was connected to the family’s current ownership. bankrupt Purdue Pharma, makers of the addictive OxyContin painkiller. .
The university said: “Oxford University is undertaking a review of its relationship with the Sackler family and their trusts, including how they recognize their benefits to the university.
“Following this review, the university has decided that university buildings, spaces and staff positions using the Sackler name will no longer be created. These review results have the full support of the Sackler family.
As part of the decision, the Sackler library was renamed the Bodleian Art, Archeology and Ancient World Library. Three staff posts supported by family donations will also drop the Sackler title, including keeper of the Ashmolean’s antiquities.
The university also said that “all donations received from the Sackler family and their trusts will be held by the university for their intended educational purposes. No new donations have been received from the family or their trustees since January 2019.”
However, the university will continue to recognize the Sackler gifts on a plaque in the university’s Clarendon building and on the donor board in the Ashmolean museum “for the purpose of recording the history of donations to the university”.
Tracey, a professor of neuroscience specializing in pain perception and anaesthetics, launched the review after the Financial Times revealed in February that the university had maintained its links with the Sackler family, providing invitations to events such as in the Oxford-Cambridge boat race, and on. to accept donations even as Purdue is embroiled in legal action over its role in the deadly opioid addiction epidemic in the US.
In 2019 the Louvre in Paris removed the Sackler title from the museum’s oriental antiquities wing, while the Serpentine Gallery said it would no longer accept donations from the Sackler trusts. Other institutions will follow, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 2021.
Last year George Osborne, the chair of the British Museum, announced that the Sackler name would be removed from all galleries, rooms and endowments supported by family trusts, saying it was time to move “to a new era”.