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Columbia University Seeks to Amend Legacy Whites-Only Fellowship

by Jamal Watson

Source:  Diverse Issues In Higher Education 

When Doug Gross was awarded a fellowship in 1976 to study at Columbia University’s prestigious School of International Affairs, he thought he had been selected for the052013_Doug_Gross award simply because he hailed from the Hawkeye state.

But as it turns out, Lydia C. Chamberlain, an Iowa native who donated her $500,000 estate to Columbia University shortly before she died in 1920, insisted that her funds be used to endow graduate and traveling fellowships for recipients born in Iowa who were exclusively “of the Caucasian race.”

“I had no idea,” says Gross, in an interview with Diverse. “If I had known, I never would have accepted it.”

Gross, a prominent Iowa attorney and former Republican gubernatorial candidate who faced off against then Governor Tom Vilsack in 2002, says that he fully supports Columbia’s decision to petition a Manhattan Supreme Court to do away with the outdated requirement that only Whites should receive the fellowship.

“I think they ought to change it,” he says. “It’s ridiculous to have this kind of provision in place, and it should be eliminated right away.”  Read more.

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