|Founding Chair of CSUF Foreign Languages
and Literatures Department Dies
Gustave Bording Mathieu, emeritus professor
of foreign languages, died Feb. 16 of pneumonia, following
February 20, 2007 :: No. 133
Gustave Bording Mathieu, Cal State Fullerton
emeritus professor of foreign languages and literatures and
1966-67 Outstanding Professor Award recipient, died Feb.
16 of pneumonia, following a stroke. The Laguna Beach resident
joined the Cal State Fullerton faculty in 1960 as founding chair of the Foreign
Languages and Literatures (now Modern Languages and Literatures) Department
and taught for 26 years.
six-year tenure as department chair, he established a policy calling for all
faculty members in the department to teach introductory and advanced courses
on a rotation basis.
Germany and raised in France after 1933, Mathieu came to the United States
in 1937, and served from 1942 to 1948 in the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain
(ski troops) and Psychological Warfare divisions. While in the service, Mathieu
worked from 1945 to 1948 as news chief of the American-controlled, German-language
radio station, Radio in American Sector (RIAS) in Berlin, where he came across
top-secret directives from the Nazi Ministry of Propaganda and People’s
Enlightenment. Later, when working on his doctorate at Columbia University,
Mathieu researched the directives that the Nazi regime had issued on such literary
figures as Shakespeare, Goethe, Schiller and Kleist.
the professor of French and German received Cal State Fullerton’s top
faculty honor — the Outstanding Professor Award, in recognition of his
teaching, research and service. When he presented his Outstanding Professor
Lecture, he offered a glimpse into the world of World War II German propagandists
and their use of literature for propaganda purposes.
introduced students to the cultural aspects of language by inviting as guest
lecturers Tony Award-winning actress Lotte Lenya, acclaimed for the role she
created in “The Threepenny Opera,” and Rita Dove, a Fulbright
Scholar later named U.S. Poet Laureate. In 1979, he organized for the university
library an exhibit of the posters of photo-montage satirist Klaus
Staeck. “A Critical View of Today’s Germany” became
a touring exhibit to Goethe Institute cultural centers around
the department he chaired, Mathieu set aside half the faculty appointments
for those who were non-native speakers of the languages they would be teaching “to
demonstrate that Americans could be role models as foreign-language teachers,” he
explained. These faculty members included professor Marjorie O. Tussing, as
well as Leon J. Gilbert, Charles Shapley and Curtis W. Swanson, now emeritus
to his campus activities, Mathieu served four years as resident director of
the California State Colleges International Programs in Berlin, Germany, and
Aix en Provence, France, as well as national president of the American Association
of Teachers of German. At the end of his two-year term, Mathieu was honored
for his dedication to the preservation of the independence and integrity of
the national organization.
joining the Fullerton faculty, Mathieu was assistant professor at Pomona College.
In addition to his work at Fullerton, he taught National
Defense Education Act summer institutes at Northwestern University,
UCI, and the universities of Washington, Colorado and Montana.
Mathieu was the author of more than 40 articles and papers,
in addition to being co-author of the books “Brieflich
Erzählt (Told in Letters),” “Deutsch für
alle (German for Everybody)” and “Invitation
to German Poetry,” and editor/publisher of Modern
Language Abstracts. In retirement, he continued to write
and was familiar to readers of his annual review of city
events, “Laguna Beach Toast & Roast,” written
in satiric verse, for the Coastline News and Laguna
An active environmentalist and backpacking Sierra Club member,
Mathieu fought vigorously to outlaw leaf blowers in Laguna
is survived by his Danish-born wife of more than 50 years, Lea; as well as
sons, Marc, Kent and Bryn, and grandchildren, Kazumi, Ryden and Carla-Maria.
A private funeral service was held.
Pamela McLaren of Public Affairs, 657-278-4852 or
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