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Oxford University wipes the Sackler name from its buildings

<i>Christopher Furlong/Getty Images</i><br/>Oxford University will remove the Sackler name from its buildings. A view of All Souls College
Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
Oxford University will remove the Sackler name from its buildings. A view of All Souls College

By Anna Cooban, CNN

London (CNN) — Oxford University will remove the Sackler name from its buildings following a review of its relationship with the family that recently expressed regret for its role in the US opioid crisis.

The 900-year old university said in a statement that it would remove the Sackler name from some of its most prominent landmarks, including parts of the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology and the Bodleian Library. It will also remove the family name from the title of a professorship.

Oxford declined to provide further details on the contents of the review.

The university said the decision had “the full support of the Sackler family,” adding that it would keep the Sackler name on two donor boards “for the purposes of historical recording of donations to the university.”

The Sackler Trust did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.

Oxford’s review comes years after the family’s role in promoting OxyContin, a highly addictive and deadly prescription painkiller, to doctors and patients through its pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma, prompted other world institutions to break off ties, following pressure from campaign groups and victims.

The Louvre Museum in Paris removed the Sackler name from its walls in 2019. New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art did the same in 2021, two years after it said it would no longer take donations from the family. A collection of UK galleries and museums, including the British Museum, have also severed links to the Sacklers since 2019.

Oxford said in its statement that it had not received any new donations from the Sackler family or its charitable trusts since January 2019.

But an investigation by the Financial Times in February said that the university had extended invitations to a member of the Sackler family for special events, and had accepted money for an ongoing research position, over the previous two years.

In March, a US judge approved a $6 billion settlement paid by the Sackler family and Purdue Pharma to several US states as well as victims of the opioid crisis. The family did not admit any illegal behavior or wrongdoing as part of the settlement.

As part of the deal, agreed last year, the Sacklers will allow any US institution or organization to remove the Sackler name from physical facilities and academic, medical and cultural programs, scholarships, endowments so long as they are notified first and public statements announcing the removals do not “disparage” the family.

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