Roanoke Times and World News
January 20, 1983

Colleges Get Three Years to Integrate

U.S. Approval Reported on Virginia's Proposal

by Charlie Hite

RICHMOND - Federal officials have approved a new plan for desegregating Virginia's public colleges that would give the state another three years to assure blacks have equal access to higher education, the Robb administration is expected to announce today.

While the administration had proposed in September that five more years would be needed to meet the goals of a 1978 desegregation agreement, the new plan sets the deadline in the spring of 1986, education sources said Wednesday.

The new plan is expected to cost $1.8 million in 1983-84, exactly the amount Gov. Charles Robb outlined in his new budget proposals earlier this month, according to one source. Just how much the plan will cost in 1984-86 is unclear, the source said.

The plan, sources said, will contain many of the proposals outlined by Robb in September and a few new programs. One new program is a summer institute at five colleges for black high school graduates. The institute is to be modeled after a program at the University of Virginia in which black students are given special academic instruction before their freshmen year in college.

State Education Secretary John Casteen has been negotiating with officials of the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education for several weeks in an attempt to come up with an acceptable plan. The specifics of the plan apparently have passed muster with most OCF officials and will be accepted officially today when Harry Singleton, assistant U.S. secretary of education for civil rights, signs the plan, according to one source.

OCR officials ordered the Robb administration in June to come up with new desegregation proposals, saying Virginia was failing to meet the goals of the five-year plan that expires at the end of this academic year. The officials noted that there was a widening gap in the rate that black high school students entered college when compared with white high school students. They also pointed to a minuscule increase in the proportion of black students at white colleges, higher graduation rates for white college students and a failure to adequately upgrade the facilities of the state's two predominantly black colleges.

The new plan is more specific than the September proposals on how programs and facilities at the black institutions are to be upgraded, a source said. The new plan also will alter the way white colleges are to meet goals for recruiting black freshmen and transfer students, the source said.

Casteen and other state officials have said that one of the major goals of the state should be to increase the pool of the number of black high school students who are qualified to attend college. The Robb proposals in September called for money to print and distribute booklets and classroom charts informing black students in elementary and junior high school of the courses they need to take in high school to prepare for college.

The proposals also establish $1000-a-year grants to blacks transferring from community colleges to predominantly white four-year public colleges. They also establish a number of programs that would help attract black faculty members to state colleges and to encourage distinguished white scholars to teach at black institutions.