New Mexico State Official Apologizes for Bad ‘Humor’

LAS CRUCES, N.M.

An associate dean at New Mexico State University who was accused of e-mailing pornography to others at the school has apologized, according to a confidential memo.

In the March 31 memo, Larry Olsen acknowledged  “a bad attempt at humor,” the Las Cruces Sun-News reported last Thursday. Two e-mails from 2007 and 2008 from Olsen’s administrative e-mail address, which were provided to the media, show explicit pictures of male and female nudity.

Faculty member John Moraros has said that shortly before he and his wife were told in February that their contracts were not being renewed, he confronted an NMSU official about pornographic images the official sent him and asked him to stop.

Moraros said the official told him he would make Moraros disappear from NMSU. Olsen later was identified as sending the images. Olsen, associate dean of the College of Health and Social Services, and department head James Robinson voluntarily stepped down pending an investigation into the e-mails.

“In my role as associate dean, I clearly erred in sending this material to Dr. Moraros using my NMSU account,” Olsen wrote in the memo. “I regret this mistake and know it will never recur.”

NMSU counsel Bruce Kite has declined to comment on any ongoing investigation, university communications said.

Allegations of pornographic e-mails surfaced in a controversy over the university’s decision not to renew the contracts of Moraros and his wife, Yelena Bird, tenure-track faculty members in the health science department. They have accused the school of discrimination. Bird is a native of England who is Black, while Moraros is of Greek and Hispanic descent.

Moraros said the contract decision came after the couple complained about the e-mails and about another department official making offensive remarks about minorities. The school’s tenure committee recommended in January that the couple be rehired.

Olsen’s memo said Moraros never complained about the e-mails. Moraros said he filed a written grievance with the department head in August and with the dean in December and never heard back. He said he tried to take the issue to the Office of Institutional Equity but that officials would not see him.

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