MIT professor Neri Oxman apologizes for plagiarism in her PhD dissertation

Neri Oxman, a former MIT professor and the wife of billionaire hedge fund manager Bill Ackman, has admitted to plagiarizing parts of her PhD dissertation at MIT, following a report by Business Insider.

Business Insider found that Oxman, who is an architect and artist, had multiple instances of plagiarism in her PhD dissertation, which she completed at MIT in 2010. According to the report, Oxman lifted paragraphs from other scholars’ work without including them in quotation marks, which is a violation of MIT’s academic integrity handbook.

The report identified four sources that Oxman plagiarized from, including two Israeli scholars, an NYU historian, and a German physicist. The report also provided screenshots of the original sources and Oxman’s dissertation, showing the similarities in the text.

MIT professor Neri Oxman apologizes for plagiarism in her PhD dissertation
MIT professor Neri Oxman apologizes for plagiarism in her PhD dissertation

Oxman regrets and apologizes for her errors

Oxman responded to the allegations on social media, saying that she omitted quotation marks in four paragraphs out of her 330-page dissertation. She said that she regretted and apologized for her errors, and that she recognized the importance of crediting the work of her peers and predecessors. She also said that she planned to request that MIT make any necessary corrections to her dissertation.

Oxman left MIT in June 2021, after becoming a tenured professor there in 2017. She now leads an eponymous company, Oxman, focused on innovation in product, architectural, and urban design.

Oxman’s husband Bill Ackman has been vocal against plagiarism

The irony of Oxman’s plagiarism is that her husband, Bill Ackman, has been outspoken against plagiarism in academia, especially in the case of former Harvard president Claudine Gay. Ackman, who is a major Harvard donor, called for Gay to resign after revelations that she had plagiarized portions of academic articles, publicized by far-right activist Christopher Rufo.

Ackman said that Gay had mishandled the student protests against Israel’s war in Gaza and created a culture of antisemitism at Harvard. He also said that Gay’s plagiarism showed her lack of fitness to lead or teach at Harvard, and that it was a “very serious” offense.

Gay resigned this week, after facing pressure from Ackman and other conservative media pundits. She was the first Black president of Harvard, and had been in office since 2018.

Oxman’s plagiarism raises questions about academic integrity and accountability

Oxman’s plagiarism, along with Gay’s, raises questions about the standards and practices of academic integrity and accountability in higher education. How common is plagiarism among scholars, and how is it detected and punished? How do institutions handle cases of plagiarism involving their faculty or alumni? How do plagiarism allegations affect the reputation and credibility of scholars and their work?

These are some of the questions that may arise in the wake of Oxman’s and Gay’s plagiarism scandals, which have exposed the flaws and challenges of academic integrity in the 21st century.

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