College Physics Professor Is 'Shocked' After Receiving $180,000 Cash for Scholarships From Secret Donor

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It was soon discovered that the sender, who was anonymous, was a former student who graduated CCNY and majored in physics and mathematics.

A Manhattan college professor catching up on his mail after he returned to in-person teaching earlier this semester said he was “shell shocked” when he opened up a cardboard box that contained stacks of $50 and $100 bills totaling $180,000.

“I’ve never seen this kind of money in real life in cash form," Vinod Menon, the chair of the physics department at City College told CNN, “I’ve never seen it except in the movies,” he said.

Menon said when he found the cardboard box, it was beat-up had and was postmarked Nov. 10, 2020, and had no name on it, instead, he said it was addressed to “the chair of the physics department at CCNY.” Along with the cash was a note that contained written instructions on how the large sum of money should be spent. 

It was soon discovered that the sender, who was anonymous, was a former student who graduated CCNY and majored in physics and mathematics, The New York Times reported. 

They went on to share that they went to CCNY after attending Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan, and later earned a master’s degree, and a Ph.D., as part of a “long, productive, immensely rewarding to me, scientific career.” 

The sender requested that the money be used towards any “deserving junior or senior physics major in the Department who is also doubling mathematics major- and in need of financial support to continue their studies,” the news outlet reported. 

It was later learned that the package’s return address was in Pensacola, Florida, but the name on the package did not show a record that the person was a graduate of the school. The return address didn’t solve the mystery either, Menon told CNN.

Menon told the Times, he “didn’t know if the college accepted cash, so I didn’t know if they’d keep it.”

Before he could accept the donor’s request, Menon said he had to clear it with campus officials to ensure that there was no sort of criminal activity involved. It was eventually cleared by the investigators from the school, the City University of New York (CUNY) system, NYPD, US Postal Service, and the FBI and Department of Treasury.

CUNY’s Board of Trustees members were elated and voted on Dec. 13 to accept the gift. Board Chairman, William C. Thompson, said “this is absolutely astonishing, $180,000 in a cash box,” as he introduced the vote, the Times reported. 

Menon, who explained that tuition at CCNY is about $7,500 a year, expressed how “proud he was to be part of an institution which made a difference in that person’s life.”

He said the generous gift will be used to fund two full scholarships every year for the next 10 years and may become available as soon as the fall semester of 2022.

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