Billionaire investor Bill Ackman finds himself in the midst of controversy as he criticizes both Harvard’s former president, Claudine Gay, and his wife, Neri Oxman, over allegations of plagiarism. While Ackman vocalized his disapproval of Gay’s handling of antisemitism on campus, his wife, a tenured professor at MIT, now faces similar accusations.
Oxman, an American Israeli designer, is reported to have plagiarized portions of her 2010 doctoral dissertation at MIT, according to a Business Insider article. The report draws parallels between issues found in Gay’s academic work and Oxman’s dissertation, particularly in passages lacking proper quotation marks for citations. NBC News has not independently verified the claims.
Despite Ackman’s firm stance against Gay, stating she should not remain as faculty due to “serious plagiarism issues,” he came to his wife’s defense. Ackman emphasized the human aspect of making mistakes in a post on X.
In response to the plagiarism claims, Oxman issued an apology on X, acknowledging errors in omitting quotation marks but stressing her recognition of the contributions of her peers. She explained that she was unable to thoroughly check the claims due to some original sources not being available online.
The Business Insider report alleged Oxman’s plagiarism involved multiple paragraphs and at least one passage directly lifted from other writers without citation. Oxman pledged to review and correct the citations when she gains access to the original sources.
Oxman, who spent 15 years at MIT, enrolled in the Ph.D. program in 2005, obtained her doctorate in 2010, and joined the faculty the same year. She left the institution in 2020 after getting married and relocating to New York City.
Ackman’s scrutiny extended beyond Oxman, as he remained vocal in his criticism of Harvard and Gay. Ackman took issue with Harvard’s response to campus protests related to the Israel-Hamas war and Gay’s congressional testimony on antisemitism. Plagiarism allegations against Gay led to her resignation, but Ackman continued to express discontent with the board’s support for her, calling it a reputational disaster for Harvard.
As the controversy unfolds, Ackman maintains a consistent stance against plagiarism, supporting his wife while challenging academic integrity issues at both Harvard and MIT.