The title of Samuel L. Myers was incorrect in a Style section story Saturday about a University of Maryland fund-raiser. Myers is a professor of economics. (Published 10/9/90)

They didn't serve Jell-O and they didn't serve Pudding Pops. But standing around looking famous last night at the University of Maryland-College Park's Adult Education Center, Bill Cosby appeared not to mind such commercial omissions. After all, this was not really supposed to be his night (although, let's face it, his presence certainly didn't hurt).

"It's really about {former university chancellor John} Slaughter, and it's about what he did when he was here," old friend Cosby said. "And you can see the results. I'm pretty sure tonight would have been sold out without a celebrity."

A blitz of camera flashes. "Can you believe all the cameras?"

"Mr. Cosby," gushed Ulysses Glee, the aptly named university financial aid director. "I see you every Thursday night, but I never thought I'd see you in person."

"And it costs, don't it?" countered the Cos.

It did cost: anywhere from $100 to $5,000 to come to the Chesapeake Ballroom for marinated shrimp, filet mignon or salmon and baby vegetables and dark chocolate cake with raspberry sauce. But mainly they came to see John Brooks Slaughter, now president of Occidental College in California. In fact, 600 of his friends, former colleagues and University of Maryland trustees turned out in full-strength black-tie to welcome him back to his collegiate turf and to support the John B. Slaughter Endowment in Science, Technology and the Black Community.

Last night was the official fund-raising kickoff -- although the endowment itself is two years old -- and University of Maryland President William E. Kirwan called it "an evening where we are taking a major step toward completing the endowment for this unique program."

The endowment will support four scholars each year in a course of study that combines science and technology with African American cultural studies. Added Kirwan, "I think {the program} will be emulated around the country. We're going in a direction where we are making certain that African American students can have careers in science and engineering and technology. It's important we create opportunities in technical areas, but still keep strong ties to the community and to African American culture."

Samuel L. Myers, junior professor of economics and director of the university's existing Afro-American studies program, said, "Tonight puts the university on record as supporting research and scholarship for minority communities. We are integrating science and the black community, two very important aspects of society for all people, particularly young people."

As folks waited for Slaughter -- whose plane was delayed -- to appear, Cosby and his in-laws Catherine and Guy Hanks of Silver Spring chatted with guests and displayed grace under flash pressure. Catherine Hanks said her daughter, Camille, "was a student here when she met Bill."

Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable looked formally funky in his ivory jacket, tuxedo shirt and navy blue slacks. In addition, he wore a pair of black-rimmed eyeglasses that lent him an appropriately professorial air.

Finally, and just in time, the truly celebrated man of the hour entered and was properly surrounded by old friends crying, "Welcome back! Welcome back!"

"Everybody gets their 15 minutes, don't they?" laughed Slaughter.

On a more serious note, he added, "People need to know African Americans have historically made tremendous contributions to the sciences, especially during the Industrial Revolution. When we bring together the feeling of community, we can make the whole country stronger. People are beginning to understand this in our society."

And how did this former engineer invent such an inevitable academic idea?

"I may have just anticipated the need for it before it came into vogue."