Billionaire CEO gifts 1,200 UMass grads 'envelopes full of cash' totaling about $1.2 million — but there's a catch

  • CEO Robert Hale Jr. spoke at UMass Dartmouth's commencement ceremony on Thursday.

  • The telecom billionaire gave each graduate two $500 payments.

  • Hale gifted the second $500 payment on the condition it goes to charity or someone in need.

A billionaire gifted graduating students at UMass Dartmouth with "envelopes full of cash" totaling $1,000.

Robert Hale Jr., the CEO of Granite Telecommunications, made the announcement during the school's commencement ceremony on Thursday. The school shared a video of the ceremony online, showing the moment Hale told the 1,200 graduates and their families.

"These trying times have heightened the need for sharing, caring and giving," Hale said. "Our community needs you and your generosity more than ever."

A UMass Dartmouth press release said security brought onstage two large duffle bags "packed with envelopes full of cash."

Hale told graduates that he had two envelopes to give them: one reading "gift" and the other reading "give."

Graduating students.
UMass Dartmouth graduates received $1,000.LawrenceSawyer/Getty Images

Hale explained that each student would receive $1,000 but added there was a "stipulation."

"The first $500 is our gift to you," Hale said. "The second $500 is for you to give to somebody else or another organization who could use it more than you."

If all 1,200 students received the $1,000, Hale's giveaway amounted to about $1.2 million.

During the ceremony, Hale also received the UMass Dartmouth Chancellor's Medal for his philanthropy work.

"The greatest joys we have experienced in our lives have come from giving," Hale said in a statement to Business Insider. "We want the graduates to share in the gift of giving and we are so happy to share in celebrating all that they have accomplished."

College graduation season in the United States this year has been rife with controversy, mostly due to the ongoing conflict in Gaza. Several schools, including Columbia University, have canceled school-wide commencement ceremonies, citing security concerns. And several schools have called in the police to disperse pro-Palestinian protest camps, a move that one expert on dissent told Business Insider would ultimately backfire.

Students at Duke University walked out during a commencement speech by comedian Jerry Seinfeld last weekend. Seinfeld has become a vocal supporter of Israel. Some students held Palestinian flags as they left the ceremony.

A representative for Duke University told BI that "we respect the right of everyone at Duke to express their views peacefully, without preventing graduates and their families from celebrating their achievement."

Read the original article on Business Insider