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NYC's Columbia seeks to alter whites-only bequest

NEW YORK (AP) -- 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.

Columbia hasn't awarded the fellowship since 1997. The university said in a statement Wednesday that does not follow gift conditions that violate anti-discrimination laws.