Billionaire investor Bill Ackman, known for his vocal criticism of Harvard’s recently resigned president, Claudine Gay, over plagiarism allegations, is now facing a similar controversy involving his wife, Neri Oxman. A Business Insider report alleges that Oxman, an American-Israeli designer and former MIT professor, plagiarized parts of her 2010 doctoral dissertation.
The report claims Oxman “plagiarized multiple paragraphs” and provides side-by-side examples with passages from other authors allegedly lacking proper citation. Oxman acknowledged errors, admitting to omitting quotation marks in four paragraphs but asserting correct references at the end of each. However, the report highlights additional instances where proper citation seems lacking.
While Ackman continued his criticism of Gay, insisting she should not remain a faculty member due to “serious plagiarism issues,” he defended Oxman, stating, “part of what makes her human is that she makes mistakes.”
Oxman apologized for the issues raised in the report, citing difficulties in verifying claims due to some original sources not being online. She pledged to check citations and seek corrections once access to the sources is obtained.
The controversy unfolds amid Ackman’s ongoing scrutiny of Harvard and Gay. Ackman’s social media campaign against Gay, focusing on her response to campus protests and handling of antisemitism, resulted in her resignation. Despite an investigation finding inadequate citation but no violation of Harvard’s standards, Ackman continued to criticize the board’s support for Gay.
In response to accusations against Oxman, Ackman pledged to review the work of all current MIT faculty members, the university’s president, Sally Kornbluth, and its governing body. He also expressed intent to review Business Insider reporters’ work. The weaponization of plagiarism in university disputes raises concerns about its potential misuse in the age of A.I.
The situation remains tense, with Ackman defending both his wife and his stance on academic integrity, while Oxman faces scrutiny over her dissertation. Representatives for Ackman and Oxman have indicated no further comments beyond their statements on social media platform X.