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January 10, 2024

Higher Ed Attacks Crusading Bill Ackman’s Wife

The Left is using its media puppets in a transparent attempt to let MIT save face.

Bill Ackman, billionaire, hedge fund CEO, and Harvard alumnus who was a driving force behind the removal of Harvard’s president, is facing a witch hunt against his wife and family. Business Insider contacted the couple on January 5 with accusations of plagiarism in his wife’s work. Bill’s wife, Neri Oxman, worked for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for 15 years, where she was a professor whose body of work centered on architectural design, biology, invention, and innovation.

Ackman has a strong suspicion that the “story” (read: personal attack) was started by sources at MIT.

What was the plagiarism that Oxman supposedly committed? Well, according to Business Insider, she “stole sentences and whole paragraphs from Wikipedia, other scholars, and technical documents in her academic writing.” When one reads further down, though, the article cites only four instances in her dissertation where she forgot to put a paragraph in quotation marks or used Wikipedia as a dictionary to define her terms without attribution. Ergo, the writers call her a plagiarist.

Before we go further, let’s make a comparison to Harvard’s Claudine Gay, whose plagiarism ultimately took her down. Gay had only 11 academic papers to her name. In every one of them, the level of plagiarism was more than just forgetting quotation marks. For example, she stole entire ideas from scholar Carol M. Swain in her writings without reference or accreditation.

Now let’s compare that to Neri Oxman’s body of work. According to her husband: “She has published 74 peer-reviewed papers, 8 peer-reviewed book chapters, and numerous other journal papers and proceedings. But her written work is only a small portion of her life’s work. She has been awarded 15 patents for her technological innovations, not including recent patents pending.” Oxman has a far larger body of work over which to nitpick than Gay, and yet Gay’s plagiarism was so blatant and pervasive that it was enough to eventually get her removed as president of Harvard despite that organization’s best efforts to protect her. She does still have a faculty position at the university and an outrageous salary to go with it.

If the sources for the Oxman accusations did stem from MIT, what is the motivation? Is it revenge? Probably in part, but there is also that good old sports adage to take into account: The best defense is a good offense.

MIT President Sally Kornbluth is the last university head standing whose testimony before Congress was so despicable. Kornbluth is Jewish herself, which leaves the Jewish alumni and terrified Jewish MIT students with this question: Who will stand up for us when our fellow Jew won’t?

MIT has been one of the worst college campuses for anti-Semitism, and there has been little to nothing done about it on the leadership’s part. While Kornbluth’s support for MIT’s Jewish community seems to have been staunch until October 7, when Hamas attacked Israel, her actions in the wake of the massacre have been an utter betrayal.

Journalist and researcher Heather Mac Donald illustrates in a City Journal piece Kornbluth’s utter blindness to addressing the problems at MIT. Instead of seeking to curb the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) bureaucracy that has entrenched itself at most institutions of higher education, Kornbluth has doubled down and even hired more to that bloat. MIT has lost its mission. Instead, it has succumbed to the idea that diversity is key — and by diversity, it means race and skin color, not diversity of thought. Faculty have resigned over this.

The attack on Oxman and by extension her husband has shifted the focus away from Kornbluth, probably by design. Kornbluth and others in positions of power at our higher education institutions (particularly the elite ones) should be held to the standard that they purport to uphold. As president of an elite university like MIT, protecting all students from harassment, bullying, political attacks, and threats should be a priority, not this moral garbage that is DEI (i.e., Racial Marxism).

So no. You leftist elites who are enshrined in your seemingly protected ivory towers of the Ivy League are and should be the focus of scrutiny. The position you hold is too important.

You may have tarnished the reputation of Bill Ackman’s wife, but it is you who will ultimately need to answer for your words and deeds. Reformers like Ackman are not in charge of teaching, training, and leading the next generation of scholars, makers, and innovators. You are. The fact that you thought this would be a good strategy and not further make you an object of contempt by the public at large is a severe misstep.

But that is no surprise. This whole exercise — from the shameful public testimonies of the three presidents of MIT, UPenn, and Harvard before Congress to the later attempts to justify the poor choices of the same — is exactly why former alumni like Ackman and the greater public at large are hungry for reform.

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