Vinod Menon, the head of the physics department at the City College of New York campus in Harlem, had to face the normally unpleasant task of going through almost a year’s worth of COVID-lockdown office mail one day last September.
He was stunned when he opened a 9-month-old package only to find that it contained $180,000. The package had been in COVID-lockdown for the previous year.
The package, which was addressed to the “Head of the Physics Department,” only contained stacked bills in denominations of 50s and 100s wrapped in paper bands, an anonymous letter, and a return address to an alias. All of these items were wrapped in paper bands.
According to statements made by Menon to CNN, “I’ve never seen this kind of money in real life in cash form.” “I’ve never seen it in real life; the closest I’ve come is in the movies.
As a result, I was completely taken aback, and I had no idea how to respond.”
The sender obviously had unwavering faith in the efficiency of the United States postal service because they wanted to send the money as a donation to financially disadvantaged kids who were interested in studying physics and other scientific fields.
The City College of New York is one of the public university systems that produces the most graduates overall in the United States, and the physics department has consistently demonstrated that it is stronger than its reputation would indicate.
There were three people who went on to win the Nobel Prize in Physics while they were students there, and Albert Einstein delivered one of his earliest lectures at the Harlem site in 1921.
“Assuming that you are a bit curious as to why I am doing this, the reason is straightforward,” the letter read, continuing on to explain that its generous writer had, many years ago, taken advantage of the “excellent educational opportunity” available at City College to study physics, earn a master’s degree, and pursue a “long, productive, immensely rewarding scientific career.” This was explained in further detail in the following paragraph.
The envelope included an alias return address to Kyle Paisley, a name that was missing from the university’s graduation logs.
The envelope was shipped to a property in Pensacola, Florida, whose owners obviously had no awareness or knowledge of the donation.
The money was initially handled as evidence, but after a two-month lengthy investigation turned up nothing that could link it to criminal conduct, the Board of Trustees took a vote to determine whether or not they would keep the money. The result of the vote was that they would keep the money.
It should not come as a surprise that they did. One of the chairs offered a suggestion that the worn-out old box should be “bronzed” and “placed in a show case.”
Dr. Menon, who was born in India and grew up there, mentioned that the gift would provide for two fully-funded scholarships each year for a decade. He also mentioned that he would try to see that it went into the hands of students who had the fewest means, such as immigrants who were in the same position as he was.