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Terrel H. Bell, the former U.S. secretary of education, and David P. Gardner, president of the University of California, have been named by the Education Commission of the States as the 1985 recipients of its James Bryant Conant Award for outstanding contributions to education.

The awards honor the role the two educators have played in launching the current school-reform movement, according to ecs Mr. Bell, now professor of educational administration at the University of Utah, established the National Commission on Excellence in Education, which produced the report "A Nation at Risk" in April 1983. Mr. Gardner chaired the excellence commission.

Previous winners of the Conant Award include Terry Sanford, president of Duke University and former governor of North Carolina; John Brademas, president of New York University; the late Carl D. Perkins, longtime chairman of the Education and Labor Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives; and James B. Hunt, also a former governor of North Carolina and past chairman of ecs's Task Force on Education for Economic Growth.

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