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Oxford to remove Sackler name from buildings and faculty positions

The University of Oxford has decided that it will remove ties to the Sackler family, following an internal review. The announcement involves a range of changes to the names of University buildings, spaces, and staff positions that currently operate under the Sackler name.

The Sackler family owns Purdue Pharma, the pharmaceutical company which played a role in the US opioid epidemic which killed over 500,000 Americans alone since 1999, according to Bloomberg News. OxyContin, a prescription painkiller and opioid introduced and heavily promoted by Purdue Pharma, had many side effects including potenital for misuse resulting in addiction, overdose and death.

Since 1991, the University has received over £11 million in donations from the Sacklers’ trusts and from the family themselves. These funds went towards building the Sackler library and  funding the Sackler Keeper of Antiquities at the Ashmolean.

Whilst the University states that it has not received any donations since January 2019, all the donations received will be ‘retained for their intended educational purposes’,  according to a Univeristy spokesperson.

The University has previously denied reconsidering renaming the buildings supported by the Sackler funds, even after the SU had submitted a motion to lobby for the changes.

In a statement, the University states that it will remove the Sackler name from Sackler Rome Gallery (Ashmolean Museum), Sackler Gallery of Life after Death in Ancient Egypt (Ashmolean Museum), Sackler Keeper of Antiquities (Ashmolean Museum), Sackler Learning Officer (Ashmolean Museum) Sackler Library, which will now become the Bodleian Art, Archaeology and Ancient World Library Sackler-Clarendon Associate Professorship of Sedimentary Geology.

The decision was approved by the Univeristy Council at a meeting on May 15 2023 and has ‘the full support of the Sackler family’.
The Sackler name will be retained on the Clarendon Arch and Ashmolean Museum’s donor board.

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