WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) _ Trustees of Purdue University have reversed an earlier position and approved a posthumous degree for a woman who died of stomach cancer before her class graduated last spring.

Jacqueline Aldrich, 38, died in April, 20 credit hours short of a degree in special education. Despite pleas from friends and relatives, her name was not called at graduation in May.

''A few months ago there was some concern over her eligibility for a degree because she had only completed 71 1/2 semesters,'' Varro E. Tyler, Purdue executive vice president for academic affairs, told the trustees Friday. ''But she also had two summer schools, which brought the total to the necessary amount.''

In August, Purdue received an anonymous grant of $5,000 to establish the Jacqueline Walters Aldrich Memorial Fund, to provide scholarships for students 25 years or older.

The degree ''was something that she really wanted,'' said Ms. Aldrich's father, Eugene Walters of Delphi.

''I can hardly wait to call her little boy, Brock. He'll be ecstatic,'' Ms. Aldrich's mother, Carlee Walters, said Friday. ''He knew how much it meant to his mother.''

Mrs. Walters said Brock, 12, also plans to enroll at Purdue eventually. His sister Kelti, 19, is a sophomore there.