Reports of cheating by students seem to be on the upswing at the University of Maryland. Five students were suspended at College Park last week for "academic dishonesty," The highest one-week figure in five years, according to Gary Pavela, the university's judicial programs director.

So far this academic year, school officials said, 46 students have been accused of cheating. Two of them were expelled and nine suspended. The others were absolved or reprimanded.

In the entire 1979-80 school year, only three students were reported for cheating, Pavela said.

Pavela said the number of students disciplined was increasing rapidly because teachers were heartened by the administration's tougher stance on cheaters and now report them more frequently. A strengthened conduct code was imposed in the fall of 1980.

Pavela would not disclose the academic departments in which the cheating incidents occurred.

Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker (R-Tenn.) will be the featured speaker at the Virginia Republican Party's Commonwealth Day dinner March 27. The $75-a-plate dinner will be held at the John Marshall Hotel in Richmond.

"I can think of no more fitting speaker at a time when we will be working hard to elect a second Virginia Republican to the Senate than the majority leader of that body," state GOP Chairman Alfred B. Cramer said. Rep. Paul S. Trible Jr. of Newport News is the party's almost-certain candidate to succeed retiring independent Sen. Harry F. Byrd Jr.

Minnie McClendon loved her neighborhood but hated the clutter of weeds and trash that made an eyesore of the small triangle of land where 14th Street, Webster Street and Arkansas Avenue converge in Northwest Washington. So she took it upon herself to keep the plot clean and to plant flowers and shrubs.

A few years ago, impressed neighbors began holding an annual Minnie McClendon Day at the tract. Last year, on "her" day, Minnie McClendon was hospitalized with a fatal illness.

Now the D.C. City Council, with support from the Sun Oil Co., which owns the land, has adopted a resolution officially designating the triangle as Minnie McClendon Park.

Local 400 of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union has offered a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those who painted swastikas on Shapiro's Food Town, a grocery in Silver Spring.

The appearance of the swastikas Tuesday evening provoked a dispute between the newly opened store's proprietor, Howard Shapiro, and the union, which is maintaining an informational picket line calling attention to below-union wages paid to store workers.

On a television news program, Shapiro suggested that the picket line was "anti-Semitic." That led Tom McNutt, the union local's president, to assert its strong stance against prejudice and announce the reward.

Virginia's new attorney general, Gerald Baliles, wants "truth in packaging" of his office's budget--but the package may cost $4 million extra.

Baliles, taking over from his Republican predecessor, J. Marshall Coleman, said he found that his office has 97 lawyers and other employes who work for the attorney general but whose salaries are included in the budgets of other agencies for which they provide legal services. He urged that the entire group be included in an attorney general budget of $9.8 million.

Coleman, reached by a Richmond newspaper's reporter, said he had tried to do the same type of budgetary consolidation sought by Baliles, but failed. And, Coleman added, Baliles was a member of the House of Delegates committee that turned him down.

Two more summers will go by, but after that motorists going to and from the Eastern Shore's beaches will have one less traffic light to contend with on U.S. 50.

James W. Wright, Queen Anne's County district engineer for the Maryland State Highway Administration, said a design is being prepared and work should begin in the fall of 1982 on a grade-separated interchange between U.S. 50 and Maryland Rtes. 8-18 at Stevensville, location of the first traffic light beyond the east end of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. The $9.6-million project will be financed out of bridge tolls.

The name of an announced candidate for the Democratic nomination for the Ward 5 seat on the D.C. City Council was given incorrectly on Saturday. The correct name is Richard Spencer (Rick) Lee.