Name & shame: Shermans come under fire for COFA gift - Art Collector

27 October 2010 | In September philanthropists Brian and Gene Sherman announced a $2 million gift to the College of Fine Arts. The money was earmarked for construction of the new COFA Gallery on Oxford Street, with $1.5 million going towards a gallery named after the Shermans and $500,000 for a gallery named in honour of the late curator Nick Waterlow.

Chancellor David Gonski praised the Shermans, saying their gift “signals their commitment to the future of visual arts and art education in this country”. However students were less impressed with some of the strings attached to the donation – particularly the naming of COFA’s School of Art History and Art Education after the Shermans – and staged a campus protest.

Speaking to the
Sydney Morning Herald about concerns over the emergence of a “cash for titles” culture at the university, the president of the student representative body Osman Faruqi said: “Students are concerned by what this deal means for the integrity and reputation of a public institution like UNSW … Students want to see quality education placed before private interests.”

Responding to concerns, Gene Sherman told the paper the decision to attach naming rights to the gift was prompted by the desire to encourage others. “If your name is publicly attached to a gift, it encourages others and starts the ball rolling,” she said.

Jane O'Sullivan

Share this page: