Bill Ackman vows plagiarism checks on MIT president


Bill Ackman ramped up his campaign against Massachusetts Institute of Technology president Sally Kornbluth, saying he will begin checks on the work of all of the school’s current faculty members for plagiarism.

The move, announced Friday in a post on X, comes after Business Insider expanded its allegations of plagiarism against Ackman’s wife, Neri Oxman, a former MIT professor. The billionaire investor said that faculty members, including Kornbluth and MIT board members, will be subject to checks using MIT’s own plagiarism standards.

“We will share our findings in the public domain as they are completed in the spirit of transparency,” Ackman said, adding that “it is unfortunate that my actions to address problems in higher education have led to these attacks on my family.”

Kornbluth has faced calls for her firing since a Dec. 5 congressional hearing over antisemitism, in which she and two other university presidents provided narrow legal responses to a question about whether calling for the genocide of Jews is against university policy. She is the last of the three to remain in her seat; University of Pennsylvania’s Liz Magill resigned days after the hearing, while Harvard University’s Claudine Gay quit earlier this week.

Harvard alum Ackman had been one of the most outspoken critics of Gay — first for her handling of campus antisemitism after Hamas’s Oct. 7 assault on Israel, and then for her scholarship, which came under scrutiny amid allegations of plagiarism. Gay acknowledged using inadequate citations in some of her articles and said she would fix them. Ackman also suggested that she was chosen to lead the school because of diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.

Read More: In billionaire brawl over DEI, Bill Ackman knocks Mark Cuban’s rebuttal to Elon Musk: ‘I fell for the same trap’ 

After Gay’s resignation, Ackman set his sights on Kornbluth, posting “Et tu Sally?” in an apparent reference to the cell biologist.

But the billionaire, who has been criticized for his involvement in the ordeal, soon found his wife in the spotlight when Business Insider published a report alleging that Oxman had failed to cite, and in at least one case, lifted directly, passages from other authors without citation in her doctoral dissertation at MIT. She acknowledged the issues, saying some sources had been improperly cited and apologized for the errors. The media outlet published another report about Oxman late Friday, alleging that at least 15 passages from her dissertation were copied from Wikipedia without citation.

In a post Friday evening, Ackman said that Business Insider had “just” contacted Oxman with the new allegations and left them with insufficient time to research the claims. He seized the opportunity to escalate his fight against Kornbluth, saying “this experience has inspired me to save all news organizations from the trouble of doing plagiarism reviews.”

In a statement earlier this week, Kornbluth gave no indication that she intended to step down, describing new efforts to review the school’s approach to handling complaints of student misconduct and announcing a new committee on academic freedom and campus expression.

“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,” Kimberly Allen, a spokeswoman for the school, said in an email responding to Ackman’s post.

In a follow-up post, Ackman called for help with his review, adding the email address of an employee at Pershing Square, the hedge fund he founded, as a contact.

Business Insider’s allegations may also have unleashed a tit-for-tat with Ackman, who in a later post said he will also “review the work of the reporters and staff at BI for completeness.”

— With assistance from Jim Silver and Janet Lorin

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