Vinod Menon began his day at City College of New York in Harlem as usual. After returning from in-person teaching, he found a pile of mail in his physics office on September 1. There was a box there, he said – along with a lot of junk.
“I opened it, there was a letter inside that said wonderful things about the education this person had received,” Menon stated to CBS News.
“That person wanted to give back in some way.”
According to CBS News, an anonymous letter gave a little identification to the funder as one from a City College student from “long ago” who attended Stuyvesant High School, a prestigious, competitive high school in New York City. At the college, the person earned an undergraduate degree, a master’s degree, and later a Ph.D. in physics and astronomy. Menon said that with all the information he had from the letter, the school was still unable to locate the person.
“I removed the bubble wrap and there was all this cash staring at me,” he stated.
“I had never seen money like that ever in my life except for in movies, so I was quite shocked.”
The dean of sciences was immediately contacted after Menon closed the package back. “She came down, we opened the box again, took the money out, and counted,” Menon expressed. The amount was $180,000 in the box.
A call was made to the school’s security and City College foundation. Also, the New York Police Department and FBI were involved in the investigation launched by the school concerning the stack of cash found.
NYPD officers took snapped photos of the box, which contained stacks of $100 and $50 bills totaling $180,000.
“That’s when it left our hands,” Menon communicated.
“I was getting occasional emails updating me on how things were going and maybe a month or two later, I came to know that the FBI cleared the money and there was nothing wrong with it, it wasn’t illegal or anything, so the college can keep it.”
Before the money could be used, the school board had to decide what to do with it. Menon said the money would be used for a scholarship, and the science department was granted approval to keep the money.
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For two students, $180,000 can cover a decade’s worth of tuition at the college, which is $7,500 a year. According to Menon, they are looking for an original name for the scholarship program.
“Now that the news has become public, I would say one of the highlights has been receiving emails from alumni and students, who were my own students over the last couple of years, telling me how they are a proud City College alumni, and while they may not have $180,000 to spare right now, they do value the education they received here and they are thankful for that,” Menon added.
Later, Professor Smith expressed his gratitude to the anonymous donor. “The fact that the person wanted to give back to the college that gave them the opportunity to get to where they are today, and as a City College faculty member, I am really honored the person picked City College,” he said.