Lisle C. Carter Jr., the new president of the University of the District of Columbia, declared yesterday that the university would continue its policy of admitting all high school graduates, regardless of their academic records, but said the college intends to impose its won high standards for graduation.

Speaking at the university's first academic convocation, Carter said the open admission policy was necessary for the university to carry out its role as a "people's university," providing a college education for anyone who wants it.

But Carter said the university would have to develop into a "quality institution" by maintaining high standards for its degrees.

"Our admissions criteria do not bear on quality," Carter said. "But our requirements for degrees do bear on quality. . . . All of us (faculty and students) must ask: "Are we giving our best?"

Carter, a 51-year-old lawyer and former assistant secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, took office on Saturday as the new university's first president. He spoke yesterday to about 700 people at Constitution Hall.

The new university has been created by a merger of the city's three open-admissions public colleges - Federal City College, D.C. Teachers College, and the Washington Technical Institute.

Although the merger officially took place Aug. 1, the colleges are still operating separate academic programs this fall. Carter provided no details of how he thinks the academic merger should take place, but promised to listen carefully to faculty and students for advice.

At yesterday's convocation, D.C. school Supt. Vincent Reed told Carter that he is facing "an awesome task," but promised to try to make the job easier for him.

"We're going to do everything we can," Reed said, "to send you young people who can move on with college education rather than you having to give hem what they were supposed to get in high school."

Reed's statement drew warm applause from university faculty members, many of whom have to teach remedial work to incoming students, most of them graduates of D.C. public high schools.

Carter suggested that many students have academic problems because of "laziness and cynicism that are forms of lack of courage." He said students often don't work hard because they don't want to risk failure, and want to keep the excuse that any poor marks they get are the result of not putting in much effort.

"It is courageous to work hard," Cartter said."We must have the courage to be steadfast."