Bill Ackman said academics will improperly cite others’ work ‘near certainty’, after his wife admits to plagiarism


Bill Ackman, the billionaire hedge fund investor, modified his stance on academic dishonesty when Business Insider discovered that his wife, Neri Oxman, plagiarized portions of her doctoral dissertation.

Ackman, who led the crusade to get Harvard President Claudine Gay to resign over plagiarism allegations, said in a lengthy, 5,139-word post on X on Saturday evening that it is “a near certainty that authors will miss some quotation marks and fail to properly cite or provide attribution for another author on at least a modest percentage of the pages of their papers.”

“Some plagiarism is caused by the author’s laziness.” “Laziness is not a good excuse for a member of the faculty, but it does not appear to me to be a crime,” Ackman wrote. “It is more a reflection of the faculty member’s competency and motivation.” Employees can be fired for being indolent in the real world, but this can be difficult to achieve under the tenure system.”

Ackman’s representative failed to reply to BI’s questions concerning his plagiarism claims.

Hiss softer attitude on plagiarism contrasts sharply with his recent pronouncements, in which he branded suspicions of plagiarism against Gay “a scandal and a stain on the reputation of Harvard.”

Similar claims have been leveled against Gay and Oxman

Bill Ackman said academics will improperly cite others' work 'near certainty', after his wife admits to plagiarism

Gay was accused of plagiarizing portions of several scholarly works, including her political science dissertation, in mid-December. Conservative activist Christopher Rufo and American Conservative Contributing Editor Christopher Brunet, as well as the Washington Free Beacon and the New York Post, reported on portions of her writing that required quotes but lacked adequate citations or quotation marks in a series of Substack posts and published news articles.

Harvard exonerated Gay of “research misconduct” on December 12 before discovering two further instances of “duplicative language without appropriate attribution” on December 20.

Gay admitted to making citation errors and requested that her writings be corrected. She did, however, say after resigning that she stands by her work, adding that she “never misrepresented” her research findings or “claimed credit for the research of others.”

Oxman, Ackman’s wife, is now facing similar allegations when BI discovered many occasions in which the previously tenured MIT professor stole lines and full paragraphs from Wikipedia, fellow scholars, and technical materials in her academic writing without proper reference.

Oxman has since admitted to the plagiarism, apologized, and promised to investigate her sourcing and make any necessary changes to her work.

“Gay was accused, accurately in at least some of the cases, of using verbatim text from outside sources and, though in most cases the source was cited, it was not marked as quoted text,” Jonathan Bailey, a plagiarism specialist, previously told BI when comparing the two events. “That seems to be pretty much what happened here with Oxman.”

The actual beef between Ackman and Gay

Ackman’s obsession with removing Gay from Harvard did not begin with the plagiarism allegations that eventually led to her resignation.

Following the October 7th Hamas strikes on Israel, the billionaire first targeted the academic leader. Ackman launched his now months-long fight against antisemitism on campus by submitting a 3,138-word letter to Gay, urging Harvard officials to give penalties and suspensions for students engaged in antisemitic and pro-Palestinian actions on campus.

Bill Ackman said academics will improperly cite others' work 'near certainty', after his wife admits to plagiarism

However, the feud between the two erupted during a congressional hearing on December 5 in which Gay and other heads of prominent institutions testified about how they handled accusations of antisemitic harassment.

In response to pointed questions from New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, Gay stated that calling for a “genocide of Jews” may violate the school’s code of conduct “depending on the context.”

She later apologized, claiming she was “caught up in what had become, at that point, an extended, combative exchange about policies and procedures.” Nonetheless, Ackman claimed that her remarks were an “ethical failure” that forced her, as well as the other university presidents who replied similarly, to “resign in disgrace.”

University of Pennsylvania President Elizabeth Magill, who told Congress that if antisemitic speech “turns into conduct, it can be harassment,” resigned. There were no known claims of plagiarism leveled against her prior to her resignation.

During the same hearing, MIT President Sally Kornbluth testified before Congress that she had not heard anyone on her campus call for the murder of Jews, drawing outrage from critics, including Ackman.

MIT has not responded to the allegations against Oxman or Ackman’s campaign against Kornbluth. According to a university spokeswoman, “Our leaders remain focused on ensuring the vital work of the people of MIT continues, work that is essential to the nation’s security, prosperity, and quality of life.”

Kornbluth did not respond to BI’s request for comment. She has remained in her position thus far, though Ackman has turned his attention to her removal now that Magill and Gay have both left their positions.

Following the announcement of Gay’s resignation, Ackman made a foreboding post on X: “Et tu Sally?”

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