Billionaire investor Bill Ackman has vocally criticized Harvard University’s former president Claudine Gay over allegations of plagiarism and her handling of antisemitism. Now his wife, Neri Oxman, faces similar plagiarism claims regarding passages of her MIT doctoral dissertation.
A Business Insider report published Thursday alleged that Oxman, an American-Israeli designer, plagiarized parts of her 2010 PhD dissertation at MIT. The report cited several examples of passages that lacked proper attribution, though NBC News hasn’t independently verified the claims.
Oxman was previously a tenured MIT professor before leaving the university in 2020. The new scrutiny comes just months after Ackman publicly rebuked Gay over her academic integrity and Harvard’s response to campus issues.
The Business Insider article highlighted four paragraphs in Oxman’s dissertation that were missing quotation marks around passages from other sources. Oxman acknowledged the errors in the specified sections and apologized in a post on her husband’s social media platform.
While she included references to original sources, Oxman admitted she “did not place the subject language in quotation marks, which would be the proper approach for crediting the work.” The report also alleged at least one instance of possible inaccurate attribution.
Oxman left the door open to further corrections pending a full review of her sources. She enrolled in MIT’s PhD program in 2005, earned her doctorate in 2010, and joined the faculty that same year before departing in 2020.
Ackman’s Scrutiny of Harvard and Gay
Meanwhile, Ackman aggressively criticized Harvard and specifically Gay over the university’s handling of campus protests and antisemitism complaints. After plagiarism claims surfaced regarding some of Gay’s published works, she resigned as president though Harvard opted to keep her as faculty.
Ackman blasted that decision and called for board members who supported Gay to also resign. Yet he defended Oxman after she faced similar scrutiny, saying “part of what makes her human is that she makes mistakes.”
Representatives for Ackman and Oxman declined further comment beyond their posted statements. The recent questions about Oxman’s dissertation come on the heels of her husband’s forceful rebukes of Harvard and its former president over academic integrity concerns.