Sackler Family Members Fight Removal of Name at Tufts, Calling It a ‘Breach’ - The New York Times
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Two weeks after Tufts University became the first major university to remove the Sackler name from buildings and programs over the family’s role in the opioid epidemic, members of the family are pushing back. A lawyer for some of the Sacklers argued in a letter to the president of Tufts that the move was unjustified and a violation of agreements made when the school wanted the family’s financial help years ago.
The letter described Tufts’s decision to remove the name as “contrary to basic notions of fairness" and “a breach of the many binding commitments made by the University dating back to 1980 in order to secure the family’s support, including millions of dollars in donations for facilities and critical medical research.”
Institutions that have accepted financial support from the Sacklers have in recent months faced growing cries to distance themselves from the family.
The forceful response by Sackler family members now may be seen as a signal to other institutions amid a flurry of announcements by major cultural organizations that they would no longer take donations from the family. The response also raised complicated legal questions about what room institutions have to unilaterally remove a donor’s name long after a gift has been accepted.
Several institutions that have received major support from the Sacklers, including Yale University, Tate, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, said this year that they would no longer accept gifts from some or all Sackler family members.
But decisions by major institutions to remove the Sackler name from existing facilities have been rare. This year, the Louvre in Paris removed the name from a wing that had been known since 1997 as the Sackler Wing of Oriental Antiquities. In that case, however, the Louvre said that its naming agreements lasted only 20 years.