James E. Lyons Jr., vice president and dean of academic affairs at Delaware State College in Dover, has been named president of Bowie State College.

Lyons, 39, will take over in September with a mandate to increase enrollment at Bowie State, which has had a 12 percent drop in students in the past year.

Bowie has 2,400 students in its undergraduate and graduate programs, the lowest enrollment of the six schools in the state college system.

Lyons said one of his first tasks will be to determine why Bowie, located on an attractive, 237-acre campus just outside one of Prince George's County's most populous municipalities, is not getting more students.

"If it's an image problem, we'll have to tackle that," he said. "Maybe it's a question of personnel. Whatever it is, I'll be able to respond to any area."

Lyons has been assistant dean of students at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, assistant to the vice chancellor at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina and assistant to the vice president of Kentucky State University in Frankfort. He said his administrative experience makes him well-prepared to tackle Bowie's enrollment problem. "In every job I've been in, admissions has been an office which reported to me," he said.

The enrollment issue is so critical that it virtuale's last president, Rufus L. Barfield, his job. Barfield resigned suddenly last January, and sources close to he left under pressure from members of Bowie's governing board, who were concerned about the continuing drop Founded in the last century as a private school and taken over early in this century by the state as a teacher's college for blacks, Bowie today is still a predominantly black school and is edominantly white community. It suffers the image of being a school of last resort.

"It's a marketing problroblem," said Sheldon Knorr of the Maryland State Board of Higher Education. "There are efforts under way to get the school to be better accepted by the Bowie community." most ambitious of those efforts is called "New Directions for the Eighties," a program in which several new cogy courses will be added to the school's fall curriculum in an effort to attract working adults, such as thosA-Goddard Space Center in Greenbelt and at the military bases in and around the county.

F. Perry Smith Jr.,he state board that oversees the college, said one reason Lyons was selected from 118 candidates for the job wed a personal commitment" to the new directions program.

Bowie's current student body, 64 percent black, isal college age. Smith said the new computer and technology courses probably will attract more older students to the school and give Bowie more of a racial mix.

Lyons said he would be willing to offer more courses off mpus and more workshops and seminars geared to people in the military and business and industry as a means of .

He said the college also must become more competitive in recruiting the brightest high school graduates. Bowie State could follow the example of other schools and write to National Merit Scholarship finalists to trem in the school.

Lyons, a native of New Haven, Conn., studied at the University of Connecticut, where he rin foreign languages, student personnel and higher education administration. He is married and has three child10.

"We are looking forward to moving to Prince George's County," he said. "We hope we can make a contributnd the school."