Every school year, at least two times a year, www.ratemyprofessors.com most likely receives an increase in the amount of traffic from the University of Toronto, from students trying to see which course would be best taken with which professor. This website rates professors on the following criteria: Helpfulness, clarity, easiness, hotness and then offers an overall rating. These, I feel are not enough. All professors should be helpful, clear and give fair tests, but an amazing professor is one that ignites in his/her students the same passion they have for the course or material, and allows them to see the same things in a new light.
For me, and for many students in the Department of Computer Science, Paul Gries is that professor. Almost every student in Computer Science has a class with Paul their first year, and he manages to bring in more students into the program as well. Always available for an appointment any time of the day, always willing to see you without an appointment, and always available with a cheerful smile, he is an all around great professor. He takes tricky, important, fundamental concepts and explains them so clearly that they become completely obvious. And maybe most importantly, he makes students really, and truly interested in Computer Science.
When I was a first year, I remember walking into my first ever course at University, and feeling somewhat terrified that University was going to bring about my demise (academically). Paul made all those fears just disappear by the end of the first lecture. It required work, but the entire course was a blast. The assignments were challenging but interesting, fun and related to what we were learning, and useful to know for the real world.
He wants to get to know as many students as he can, and really help those students who are struggling. He knows many students by name, and can be seen at many of the events hosted by the Computer Science Student Union.
I go to his office hours for courses that I don’t even have with him – because he’s willing to help. He’ll point out the right direction to head in, allowing students to learn on their own, giving them enough to run with any idea they have.
Computer Science just isn’t the same without having a course taught by Paul Gries.