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NYC's Columbia University seeking to change whites-only fellowship bequest from 1920

Columbia University is seeking to change the terms of a fellowship that can only be awarded to white students from Iowa.

The Lydia C. Roberts Graduate Fellowship stipulates that money be given only to "a person of the Caucasian race."

Roberts left Columbia most of her $509,000 estate when she died in 1920 and created the highly restrictive fellowship. In addition to the "whites only" rule, Roberts fellows must be from Iowa, must not study law or several other fields, and must return to Iowa for two years after graduating.

University officials filed court papers last week seeking to change the race provisions of the bequest.

The Daily News reports ( ) that Columbia hasn't awarded the fellowship since 1997.

A Columbia spokesman didn't return an email seeking comment Wednesday.

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