NEW YORK - When Professor Vinod Menon checked his mail back in September at City College of New York in Harlem, he found a heavy box.
"There was a box sitting here with all my mail and then a box sitting on top of that," he said.
It was addressed to the chairman of the university's physics department and was sent through the U.S. mail from Pensacola, Florida, in November 2020.
But the physics professor was teaching remotely at the time. So the box sat in the campus mailroom for about nine months. Inside was a letter.
"The letter says the great things that City College did for this person and that they want to give back to the college," Menon said.
And under that letter was bubble wrap.
"I removed the bubble wrap and what I find inside is just cash," Menon said. "Now, I've never seen cash of that much ever in my life except in movies."
It was $180,000 in cash — an anonymous donation from a former student.
"I picked it up. I held it to me close because there was nobody in the office at that time," Menon said. "I called the dean, who was on the 13th floor upstairs, and she came down."
Menon said the donation amazed and excited everyone.
"I've had numerous alumni connecting with me saying that, 'Professor, I might not be able to send you $180,000 but let me tell you the education I got there was fabulous,'" Menon said.
City College had to do some due diligence first, though, to make sure the donation was legitimate. The FBI got involved to determine that the cash was clean, which it was. And now that money is going to be used for two scholarships for students in need who major in physics.
"I think it's a testament to the quality of education we are providing here especially to students who are immigrants, first-generation college-goers," Menon said.