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President Clinton has appointed Mary Frances Berry, a former federal education official, to chair the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

Ms. Berry, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, would be the first woman to chair the panel if confirmed by the Senate. She currently is the commission's senior member, and served as vice-chairman under President Carter.

In announcing the appointment this month, President Clinton praised Ms. Berry as "a civil-rights scholar as well as an advocate.'' The appointment came despite Ms. Berry's role as a leading critic of the President's decision earlier this year to withdraw the nomination of Lani Guinier to be head of the Justice Department's civil-rights division.

Ms. Berry previously served as chancellor of the University of Colorado at Boulder and was the assistant secretary for education in the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare from 1977 until 1980.

President Clinton has chosen Raymond C. Pierce to be the Education Department's deputy assistant secretary for civil rights.

Since 1986, Mr. Pierce has been the supervisor of government and community affairs for the LTV Corporation in Cleveland, where he created a summer science and technology institute for local students.

From 1984 to 1986, he practiced law in Little Rock, Ark.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna E. Shalala has named Ann Rosewater to a top position in the Administration for Children and Families.

Ms. Rosewater, who will serve as the A.C.F.'s deputy assistant secretary for policy and external affairs, has been a public-policy consultant based in Atlanta for the past three years. She has worked with multi-site children's projects sponsored by the Pew Charitable Trust; the Annie E. Casey, Ford, and Rockefeller foundations; and the Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago. She was also a consultant to the Atlanta Project spearheaded by former President Carter.

She has also served as staff director of the now-defunct House Select Committee on Children, Youth, and Families and has written many articles on family policy.

In a somewhat unorthodox White House ceremony last week, President Clinton signed legislation creating a community-service program in which students will serve in exchange for college tuition, college-debt retirement, or skills-training funds.

Congress gave final approval to the legislation earlier this month. It is a scaled-down version of the President's original proposal.

At the ceremony--where the rock band Soul Asylum broke up the formality with a couple of songs--Mr. Clinton named Eli Segal as the first chief executive officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service, which was created by the new law. Mr. Segal oversaw its drafting and enactment.

The President also announced that the new "domestic Peace Corps'' would be called "Americorps.''

The Clinton Administration last week proposed regulations intended in part to reduce the amount of potentially harmful pesticides in foods consumed by children and infants.

Current rules mandate that carcinogenic pesticides not present an "unreasonable risk''--said to be one additional occurrence of cancer among every one million people. The proposed rule would set a more stringent standard of "a reasonable certainty of no harm,'' according to a spokesman for the Environmental Protection Agency.

In addition, standards for pesticide residues in foods would be based on their effects on children and infants, whose organs and immune systems are still developing and therefore are more vulnerable.

In a June report the National Academy of Sciences said the federal government's policies for protecting infants and children from exposure to toxic pesticides were "seriously deficient.''

The commissioner of the Gulf South Conference in the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division II has launched an initiative to end gender bias in member schools' athletic programs.

The commissioner, Nathan N. Salant, made his announcement last week in the wake of a finding by the Education Department's office for civil rights that the University of North Alabama had violated Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the federal law barring sex bias in federally funded schools and colleges.

The violations at North Alabama included offering more intercollegiate teams for men than for women and not treating female athletes equitably in such areas as the scheduling of games and practices; coaches' pay and assignments; recruitment; and facilities.

In an interview, Mr. Salant said he planned to provide the conference's 11 member schools with the O.C.R.'s findings against U.N.A., the school's proposed remedies, and a summary of the factors that the O.C.R. considers during an investigation.

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