Cal State Fullerton Textbook Controversy Is Still Brewing

It’s been nearly a year since Cal State Fullerton math professor Alain Bourget made headlines by refusing to use a textbook that was authored by his boss in the university’s math department and cost students nearly $100 more than the book he wanted to use.

Bourget’s stand, and the reprimand he received for it, sparked a heated debate within the academic community on the ethics of professors authoring the books they assign their students. It also led to a new textbook policy adopted by the university’s academic senate in May.

But the early reviews from Bourget and others are that the new policy does little to address the issue.

“After all the noise the story made, it didn’t change CSUF or the math department,” Bourget said.

Added fellow math professor and Bourget supporter Tyler McMillan: “[The policy] is pretty useless in that it doesn’t have any protection for a minority opinion. It doesn’t address conflict of interest issues.”

Meanwhile, Bourget said his chances for a promotion this year might be jeopardized because of the letter of reprimand issued to him last year for not using the department-mandated book, which was written by math department chairman Stephen Goode and vice chairman Scott Annin. It remains the required text for the introductory linear algebra and differential equations class known as Math 250B.

Although not teaching the class this semester, Bourget reaffirmed his preference for a book written by MIT math legend Gilbert Strang.

Strang’s book costs about $90, while Goode and Annin’s is around $175, according to The prices reflect the current editions of each book.

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