During his Quixotic campaign as D the Republican nominee for D.C. mayor last fall, E. Brooke Lee Jr., scion of the Montgomery County political dynasty, often relied on stunts that gave him something of an oddball's image.

But in the aftermath of his landslide defeat, Lee is holding his head high and devoting himself to a fine cause, raising funds for Howard University. Aid for Howard was, in fact, one of his campaign promises.

Yesterday, at his invitation, nearly 40 of Washington's movers and shakers--bankers, lawyers, foundation executives--lunched at the Metropolitan Club to hear a soft-sell appeal to help raise the remaining $44 million in Howard's $100 million fund-raising campaign for capital improvements and scholarships.

The guest of honor was presidential counselor Edwin Meese III, who described President Reagan's devotion to the school. He said Howard is "the only item that I can remember [in the president's domestic budget proposals] that has steadily increased each year."

Sitting at Meese's left was James Cheek, Howard's president and the target of a student protest over the expulsion of the campus newspaper editor, since reinstated. Meese, who as a deputy district attorney in California dealt with student unrest at Berkeley, brought up the matter. Cheek, he said, "took a stand for the general public, including the student body, against those who would try to create divisiveness . . . ."

Cheek, speaking later, observed that he was accustomed to dealing with turmoil, but "I didn't ask for the amount" now being shown. He said, "We have only about 50 or 60 individuals making noise" out of a student body of 11,700.