Whites-only scholarship: Columbia tries to change it

Whites-only scholarship for Columbia University dates from 1920 – and is only for Iowans. Columbia is going to court to change race provisions of whites-only scholarship.

Keith Bedford/Reuters/File
Graduates from Columbia University's School of Journalism cheer during the university's commencement ceremony in New York in 2012. The university has filed papers in court to change the race provisions of a whites-only scholarship that has been around since the 1920s, but not awarded since 1997.

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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