Tel Aviv University Quietly Swaps Out Sackler Name From U.S.-facing Medical Program

Still, the name remains on the medical faculty itself despite demands to remove it due to the family's contribution to the opioid crisis

Ronny Linder
Ronny Linder
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FILE: The Sackler building at Tel Aviv University.
FILE: The Sackler building at Tel Aviv University.Credit: Ofer Vaknin
Ronny Linder
Ronny Linder

Tel Aviv University has quietly rebranded its medical program for U.S. students to remove the controversial name Sackler, associated with the opioid crisis in the United States – although the university's overall medical faculty still bears the name.

After years of refusing to remove from its facilities the name of the infamous family, whose company has been held responsible for ruining the lives of hundreds of thousands of American families, this move is small yet significant. The change happened a few weeks ago without any fanfare.

“Same program, new name – The American Medical Program at Tel Aviv,” the university posted on Instagram in late February, without explanation for the change.

A student informed colleagues by email about the decision. The student noted that because the university decided that for now the name of the faculty itself would not be changed, the name Sackler would continue to appear on its website in order not to mislead any students. However, the student remarked, the rebranding of the program is a step in the right direction. 

Several prominent cultural and academic institutions, among them the Guggenheim Museums and Foundation, The Louvre Museum, The Tate Gallery and Yale University have removed the name Sackler from their buildings and publications, announcing they’d refuse to accept any more money from the family. The latest was the prestigious National Gallery in London, which announced Sunday that it was removing the name from the room known for the past 30 years as the Sackler gallery.

In contrast, Tel Aviv University hadn’t even debated the issue despite protests and appeals by groups including Physicians for Human Rights as well as faculty members, lecturers and researchers from various departments.

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