"NMSU will not tolerate discriminatory behavior of any kind," said provost Waded Cruzado. "The institution cannot condone such activities. In particular, our administrators are expected to exercise good judgment [and] exhibit the highest ethical standards and impeccable conduct."
In a memo dated March 31, Larry Olsen, associate dean of the College of Health and Social Services, admitted that he used his university email account to send pornographic images to recently dismissed tenure-track professor John Moraros in a "bad attempt at humor."
"In my role as associate dean, I clearly erred in sending this material to Dr. Moraros using my NMSU account," Olsen wrote. "I regret this mistake and know it will never recur."
Two messages sent during from Olsen's administrative email address in 2007 and 2008 included 15 pictures of full-frontal male and female nudity.
One group of pictures titled "Nice paint job!" shows a naked woman being airbrushed with shorts and a top, then walking down the sidewalk to elicit reaction.
Another group of pictures - titled "Where do I sign up?" - displays a "sperm bank in China" with a line of women handling the genitals of several male patients.
Moraros and Yelena Bird, another recently dismissed tenure-track professor at the college, alleged Olsen subjected them to sexual harassment for years.
Darrell Pehr of University Communications declined to comment on whether this was related to Olsen's violations of university policy.
"We can't be specific about that," he told the Las Cruces Sun-News.
Olsen, when contacted by the Las Cruces Sun-News, said, "I can't talk to anybody."
Moraros said Olsen began sending him sexually harassing email in 2004, when he was a graduate student. He said Olsen followed by asking, "What's wrong with you? You're not a man. Are you gay?"
Olsen claimed in the March 31 memo that Moraros never protested the emails.
Moraros said he frequently confronted Olsen in person in 2007 - with others present - and asked him to stop sending him pornographic email.
"I filed a written grievance with the department head in August [and] with the dean in December," Moraros reportedly said. "I didn't hear anything from either. I tried to take it to the Office of Institutional Equity. I printed it out."
Moraros said the office refused to see him.
University Communications did not clarify what discriminatory behavior, if any, was being attributed to Olsen, and Cruzado could not be reached for comment by phone or email Tuesday, according to the Las Cruces Sun-News.
The determination that Olsen violated university policy concludes the first stage of an investigation into a complaint filed with the Office of Institutional Equity, the university said.
The university said the determination "is in no way related" to the dismissals of Moraros and Bird.
Olsen will have five days to appeal the decision.