John B. Slaughter, former director of the National Science Foundation, was inaugurated yesterday as chancellor of the University of Maryland's main campus at College Park. He called on the school to "set a national standard for excellence and equality."

Slaughter, 49, who has been serving as chancellor for six months, is the first black to be named chancellor. He told an audience of 700 in the campus chapel that "now is our opportunity to use our size to our advantage--to make this a model multiracial, multiethnic and multigeneration community."

One of the thrusts of Slaughter's 25-minute inauguration speech dwelt on improving the campus' image. "We must dispel the negative images that persist--that we are an impersonal, unresponsive and poorly managed bureaucracy," he said.

Slaughter's first six months in office already have included criminal convictions of two faculty members and last week's reprimand of basketball coach Lefty Driesell. It was the first time the college had held an inauguration for a chancellor. The costs for the ceremonies were $13,000.

Echoing the often stated goal of university president John S. Toll to make Maryland one of the top 10 public institutions in the nation, Slaughter said, "If we are not top 10, we're very close.

"The University of Maryland at College Park, in my opinion, must be the campus to which the most talented graduate and undergraduate students from this state come," he said. "We want to appeal to the 18-year-old woman with a National Merit scholarship, the black student who is looking for a quality educational environment, the 40-year-old woman with three children, the 20-year-old man working part time, the 50-year-old construction engineer--man or women--looking for graduate work and the 70-year-old retiree."

Slaughter is the third chancellor at College Park, a position second in rank only to president in the university system. He follows Robert L. Gluckstern, who stepped down last spring after seven years to teach physics on the campus. Both Gluckstern and his predecessor, Charles E. Bishop--now president of the University of Houston--attended yesterday's ceremony, along with educators, elected officials--including U.S. Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.)--faculty members and students. Gov. Harry Hughes was to address the gathering, but was replaced at the last minute by state treasurer William Janes.

One of the more controversial actions of Slaughter's tenure was Friday's reprimand of Driesell for asking a student to drop her complaint of attempted sexual assault charges against junior basketball player Herman Veal. Labeling Driesell's telephone calls to the woman as "unacceptable," Slaughter, after an investigation by a three-member faculty committee, publicly reprimanded the coach.

The campus community had made its stance known. The Student Government Association passed a resolution criticizing Driesell's conduct and calling for a thorough investigation, and the campus student newspaper, The Diamondback, called for Driesell's resignation.

In an editorial Monday, the paper blasted Slaughter's handling of the situation as "spineless."

"The administration told Lefty Driesell to do his required reading and be a good boy. He did. Then he walked out and hopped in a limo and left," the editorial stated.