Greg Naterer said Tuesday he's disturbed by the mugs selected by the society for a recent student party off-campus.
"I will be investigating within the university further, there will be appropriate measures taken and there will be consequences," he said in an interview.
The yellow souvenir mugs feature a cartoon image of a barely dressed woman and the words: "If She's Thirsty ... Give her the ... D (DAY)."
The words play on the party's D-Day theme and refer to a phrase that originates from a pornography website and its use in stand-up comedy. The D represents the first letter of a slang term for penis.
Naterer said the mugs show poor judgment but would not elaborate on potential consequences as he gathers facts on the incident.
"Memorial will not tolerate any form of sexual harassment," he said. "It was unacceptable, and I was very disappointed in our students.
"It was very disrespectful and it didn't represent my values, it doesn't represent the values of the university nor, I believe, the values of the students."
Naterer said he had no knowledge of the mug before the party was held to welcome engineering students back for the fall semester. He said he first learned of it Monday when he received an emailed image of the design from another faculty member — not through any complaint received from a partygoer.
The engineering department has about 1,200 undergraduate students and 400 graduate students. Women make up around 25 to 30 per cent of total enrolment, Naterer said.
"We work very hard in the faculty to provide as welcoming an environment as possible to female students. We pride ourselves on the initiatives we've done to encourage more women to go into engineering."
Naterer isn't buying any arguments that the mugs were meant as a harmless pop culture joke.
"It's a wrong attitude," he said. "To me, it's very clear it's not acceptable."
The engineering society has apologized.
"We, as a society, acknowledge the poor judgment we have exercised in the selection of this mug," it said in an email Tuesday. "We regret that this reflects so poorly on us and our faculty, which promotes and exhibits nothing but equality and professionalism in engineering."
The incident comes on the heels of outraged complaints over student chants at Saint Mary's University in Halifax and the University of British Columbia.
The president of the Saint Mary's University students' association stepped down last week after a frosh-week chant glorifying the sexual assault of underage girls was captured on a video that made national headlines.
And the University of B.C.'s Sauder School of Business said Monday it has cut support for annual first-year orientation activities. The move came after a similar incident.