Joseph Louis Metivier Jr., 58, professor of Romance languages and assistant dean of the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences at George Washington University, died of a heart attack Thursday in Bar Harbour, Maine.

He lived in Washington and was vacationing in Maine.

Prof. Metivier joined the GWU faculty in 1952 as an instructor in Romance languages. He became an assistant professor in 1957 and full professor in 1971. He was adviser to special students in Columbian College from 1962 to 1965, when he became assistant dean.

Elected a member of the GW chapter of Omricon Delta Kappa, an honorary leadership society, Prof. Metivier was president-elect of the Friends of the Libraries at GWU.

He was a member of the American Association of the Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese and had served as president of the Washington chapter of the American Association of Teachers of French.

In the spring of 1977, he was acting dean of the American College in Paris. Earlier, he had been honored by the French government with L'Ordre des Palmes Academiques for his contributions to the understanding of French culture.

Prof. Metivier was born in Rumford, Maine. He served in the Army Air Corps during World War II.

He attended Catholic University and then transferred to George Washington University where he received a degree with a major in French in 1951, and a master's degree in 1955. He also took graduate work at Catholic University.

He is survivied by his mother, Elizabeth Metivier of Livermore Falls, Maine; a brother, George, of Rumford, and a sister, Gloria, of Augusta, Maine.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Joseph L. Metivier Memorial Fund, Department of Romance Languages, George Washington University.