The mysterious gift a physics professor in the United States received when he returned to university to teach face-to-face

Professor Vinod Menon (NYTIMES)

Vinod Menon, professor of physics of the New York City College in Harlem, he encountered a big surprise in your mail when he returned to teach face-to-face classes in July of this year.

The large box was addressed to the “Chairman of the Department of Physics”, his title.

The first thing the teacher thought was that it could be a gift from a student. The stamp was dated November 10, 2020. In other words, it had been in storage for more than nine months, first in the campus mailroom and then in the physics office.

Opening the huge cardboard box, the professor found inside 50 and 100 dollar bills wrapped in paper bands, totaling $ 180,000.

An accompanying letter addressed to Professor Menon explained that money was a donation to help needy City College math and physics students.

“It was a total shock: I know a lot of academics and I had never heard of such a thing. I didn’t know if the university accepted cash, so I didn’t know if they would keep it. “Venon said, in an article published in The New York Times.

Professor Vinod Menon
Professor Vinod Menon (ccny)

The letter explained the donor’s motivations. “Assuming you are a little curious as to why I am doing this, the reason is simple,” wrote the sender, who said that “a long time ago” took advantage of the “Excellent educational opportunity” to attend both Stuyvesant Institute and to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree in physics from City College, helping him develop a “long, productive, and immensely rewarding” scientific career.

The note was not signed and the sender’s name, Kyle paisley, was not listed as a graduate in the records of the educational establishment.

For Menon, the value of the gift represents “What the physics department has been providing all these years”, according to affirmed to The New York Times.

The authorities of the City College, as of the entire system of the City University of New York (CUNY), do not remember a similar type of donation. “Kyle Paisley” seemed to be a fake name., He said Pat Morena, who heads the City College Department of Public Safety.

They also emphasize that the donation is destined for the department of physics, with a long and distinguished history. In 1921, Albert Einstein gave one of his first lectures in the United States there. The department has long been among the most prestigious, with three of its former students awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics.

The box appears to have remained in the university’s main mail room as “a normal parcel” only to be taken with other bundles to Dr. Menon’s office, most likely in March.

City College New York
City College of New York (NYTIMES)

The professor, who was conducting research in a laboratory across campus from his principal’s office, he didn’t check his office mail until late summer.

“It’s crazy that it stayed in the mailroom, or even that it was mailed: the person trusted the system so much”Said Dr. Menon, who was wary of even touching the money when he opened the box, according to The New York Times.

The money was “treated as evidence” and was kept in a safe at the public security office., whose officials contacted federal authorities “to see if it was possible that it was the product of criminal activity”Chief Morena said.

Based on information about the gangs that grouped the cash, federal agents determined that it had been withdrawn from various Maryland banks in recent years and what was not related to criminal activitysaid the boss.

The address of the package, a real home in Pensacola, Florida, did not lead to anyone related to the donation.

After the university authorities determined that the sender was impossible to trace, they decided to accept the donation.

Menon said that money would have a great impact for the Physics department, and that it would be used to finance two full-tuition scholarships each year for over a decade. In line with the spirit of donation, the scholarship would require students to “return the favor in some way,” for example, by mentoring their peers.


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