Driving along Hampton Boulevard here, the campus of Old Dominion University comes in sight at 43d Street. Modern brick buildings line both sides of this main artery. Among the 48 buildings on campus are a planetarium, an engineering graduate laboratory, a nine-floor arts and letters building, an education building and an oceanography building. A new library houses 705,997 bound volumes.
Fewer than four miles to the east off a side street is the campus of Norfolk State College. The 16 brick buildings include an industrial and technical building, a fine arts building, a science building, which includes a planetarium, and a nursing education building. There are 201,996 books in the college library.
The contrast between the two state institutions extends beyond buildings and libraries to programs, degrees, and faculty training. But the most telling difference of all is in the students: Old Dominion is 94 per cent white, and Norfolk State is 94 per cent black.
Old Dominion and Norfolk State typify what the Department of Health, Education and Welfare describes as a dual system of higher education in Virginia.
For more than eight years, Virginia has been under pressure to further desegregate its colleges. HEW wants the state to increase the number of blacks enrolled at predominately white colleges (now 5 per cent), the number of whites at black institutions (now 2.4 per cent) and to strengthen academic programs at the state's two predominately black institutions. Virginia officials say they offer any qualified student the right to go to any university.
Members of the state NAACP and other black officials however, accuse the state of failing to make the colleges truly equal.
"What the State of Virginia has done is set up an apparatus to allow the white institutions to be the much more attractive institutions by giving them resources and programs," said Jack W. Gravely, executive secretary of the Virginia State Conference of the NAACP.
Old Dominion University, founded in 1930, and Norfolk State College, started in 1935, are roughly the same age, located in the same city, and draw many of their students from the same geographical area. Over the years, however Old Dominion has outgrown Norfolk State, and now has twice the number of students and three times more buildings than the predominately black college. Statistics provided by the State Council of Higher Education and college offical show other differences.
Old Dominion's faculty is almost all white, while Norfolk's is 72 per cent black. The average nine-month salary is $16,755 at Old Dominion, compared to $15,458 at Norfolk State. Virginia officials say the fact that Norfolk State professors have fewer advanced degrees explains much of the discrepancy.
The differences, too, are found in state expenditures on the colleges. Old Dominion got $45,903,085 in the state's last two year general fund budget, and Norfolk State got $25,198,600. The difference, state officials say, is based on Old Dominion's higher enrollment and its expensive advanced degree programs. Norfolk State actually receives more state money per students - $1,423 - than Old Dominion, which gets $1.197. State officials say this difference is accounted for by the higher overhead costs of administering a smaller school.
Compared with Norfolk State. Old Dominion University offers a more varied curriculum, more advanced degrees and more courses aimed at preparing students for professions than the black school.
Norfolk State has no doctoral program at all and confers master's degrees in only five fields. There are 33 master's programs and three doctorates offered at Old Dominion. The schools also offer duplicate courses in a number of areas.
HEW has cited as harmful the duplication of programs at traditionally black and white colleges that draw their students from the same geographic areas."Then, there is no reason for a white student to select a black institution," a HEW official said.
Roy A. Woods, vice president for academic affairs at Norfolk State, agrees. "They (whites) see no reason to come to Norfolk State College. It almost takes a crusader to come."
Most whites enrolled at Norfolk State are in programs that are not offered at Old Dominion University such as the master's program in social work.
Amy Jones, a 23-year-old white student who graduated from Old Dominion University in 1976, is studying journalism at Norfolk State College because there is no degree program in journalism at Old Dominion University.
"I decided I wanted to try journalism, so I came here," she said "They had the program I wanted and it was close to home." The Norfolk resident, who enrolled in the college last spring, said she was a little apprehensive about going to a predominately black college. "I don't know what to expect. I didn't know what black people were like . . . I'm a minority student here. The shoe is on the other foot."
Jones is satisfied with her experiences at Norfolk State. "I've had a better time here than I had at Old Dominion."
A total of 839 blacks are scattered among the 13,985 students at Old Dominion. Many of them go there because of the lack of programs at Norfolk State, according to students.
Charles C. Wilson is such as person. He selected Old Dominion University because it has the business program he wanted. "The business world is predominatly white," he said. "There are a lot of opportunities here (Old Dominion)."
The differences in the quality of programs at Norfolk State and Old Dominion have led some educators and students to rate the white university far above the black college.
"If I got a C in accounting here (Old Dominion) and a B in accounting at Norfolk State, I would feel better coming out with a C in accounting at Old Dominion," said Wilson. "ODU (which is how most students refer to Old Dominion University) has more prestige."
Norfolk State College doesn't provide "the same quality of programs or range of academic preparation for careers" as Old Dominion University, said Steven J. Rosenthal, a sociology professor at Old Dominion University. It is also far more difficult to get into Old Dominion than Norfolk State.
Students applying for admission to Old Dominion must be in the top 50 percent of their graduating high school classes and have a minimum score of 850 (out of a possible 1,600) on the college entrance examination.
Norfolk State students must have only a high school diploma or its equivalent. The college doesn't screen applicants on the basis of the college entrance examination scores because the scores "don't correlate very high with success in college," according to Woods, Norfolk State's vice president for academic affairs.
The annual tuition rate for Old Dominion University is $720 for state residents and $1,430 for out-of-state students. In-state students at Norfolk State pay $430 in annual tuition and out-of-state students pay $765. The great majority of students at both institutions are Virginia residents.
There is little interaction between blacks and whites at the two institutions, according to students.
Last month, a group of Old Dominion students calling themselves the "Committee Against Racism" charged that there is "no truly multiracial organization at ODU," and that academic and social life is "highly segregated."
Black students at the predominately white institution have formed an organization that sponsors programs and community service activities. There are also black fraternities and sororities, a dance group and choir.
The proliferation of activities for blacks prompted Steven Stone, news editor of the student newspaper, to remark when asked why there were no blacks on the paper's staff: "They're too busy with their activites - a dance group and choir."
"It's a cultural difference." said Ansell V. Hollowell, president of the black students' organization at ODU "I think some blacks don't go to ODU because it's such a big adjustment. There's a comfort factor at Norfolk State. You are with your friends."
"I think it's stupid to say that black students go to Norfolk State and white students go to Old Dominion," said Amy Jones, the journalism student. "But, I grew up with those attitudes. I don't think htings will change unless the attitudes change."