Rate my professors: Peak edition

Read about some of our writer’s stand-out teachers

Mary-Ellen Kelm

Whether you’re taking a history class because it’s your major or because you need to fill in a breadth requirement, try to take one with Dr. Mary-Ellen Kelm. She is the Canadian Research Chair for the history department, but you can tell from the first ten minutes of lecture that she isn’t just a professor who teaches; she is also a teacher.  

Even if you think Canadian history is boring and you know it all, she’ll prove you wrong. I have never been taught Canadian history with such a focused and careful approach on Indigenous history.

Her lectures are well-prepared and constructed, and she is fun and easy to listen to. She focuses on your understanding of concepts, events, and causalities rather than suffocating you with facts and dates which can be a problem with a lot of history profs.  

She makes sure to answer questions in class, to review lectures from the previous week, and to explain not only the expectations of projects you’re writing, but also the point of them. She is an incredibly interesting and approachable professor, in person and in email.

I don’t think I’ll have another professor who brings dried apple chips and Indigenous art to class, or who simulates the Acadian deportation by making all the men in the class get up and stand in the front of the class. She’s amazing. – GM      


Paul Budra

The first English class I took with Dr. Paul Budra, there was an offensively hot guy in my lecture. After taking his class, I would have Budra give a speech at our wedding.

Budra has cool English teacher realness. Each lecture with him is part education, part John Oliver-esque sass, and all parts enjoyable. His slides are generously detailed and easy to understand, so much so that you kind of consider sacrificing your first-born because the notes will save you for your final.

The man is passionate about Shakespeare (and can give a hell of a reading of Hamlet), is outrageously intelligent, and has a pretty sharp wit. I honestly think he could make any casual class skipper renounce their ways and start looking forward to every single one of his lectures.

In all seriousness, Budra is a hilarious, articulate, and compelling professor. Definitely a prof you have to take before you graduate. – WY


Andrew Perkins

Perkins is a truly wonderful man and a pleasure to learn from; I’m legitimately not kidding. While his classes are incredibly text-heavy, his sheer passion for the material will surely rub off on any student.  

His slides are mostly pictures, but if you pay attention to his lectures it’s not difficult to keep up. He makes classes fun to attend, uses students for demonstrations, welcomes questions in class with enthusiasm, and highlights career opportunities in fields as the course material is covered. – OR


Daniel Ahadi

Ahadi’s tests are seriously tough (no matter how much he says they aren’t), but I really liked his teaching style. He’s one of the most organized professors I’ve ever had and his Canvas page is really easy to navigate.

His slides are very sparse, though, since he does most of his talking in class. It’s hard to get by in his class just by looking through them, so go to lecture.

One thing that’s kind of annoying is the way he makes people participate in class. He isn’t above using long awkward silences to force people (usually the same five people) to raise their hands.

And fair warning he has a very soothing voice. Try not to fall asleep. –MC


Richard Lockhart

Richard Lockhart: good stats prof, great guy, weird classroom habits.

Imagine a prof who teaches so hard he forgets to go to his next class or is so chill that no one raises their hands, they merely yell at him to get attention. Sound amazing? It is, but this comes at a price.

He sets his phone’s alarm to go off so he won’t forget that class does end. You can be scribbling your notes, then weird 1970s UFO movie music starts blaring and you lose your train of thought.

Not to worry, the prof uploads everything: his slides, everything he writes in class, and he gets IT to record his lectures so you can serenade yourself at home with Canada’s version of the BBC or UK’s version of the CBC . . . it’s hard to tell.

If that wasn’t enough, he even writes out summary pages for each lecture and provides solution guides to assignments detailing answers and how he marked the question. He also provides many practice exams (he’s made one each year dating back to before I was born).

Now here’s the bad part; his handwriting is so terrible he even confuses himself. Students can spend the whole lecture confused about examples because his z’s are written like 8’s and his 8’s written like α’s. And, Lockhart, please stop taking off your glasses. You know you’re going to misplace them at break. Also, he has a habit of peeling off the wiring insulation on the lecture microphone when he thinks it doesn’t work (it does work, I swear).

To sum it up: take his class, learn lots, be entertained. – NT


Rodney Hunt
Health Sciences

I seriously recommend you take Hunt’s courses if you are a major in health sciences, or need an elective. The reason he makes such a good professor is because he is attentive to students’ needs and learning abilities. Though his classes usually have 100 or more people (especially in the 100/200 levels), he pays attention to how the student body as a whole is adjusting to his class outline, and changes things accordingly.

He also clearly cares about you as a person — which is in such short supply at our university, in my opinion. In terms of course content, he keeps his readings and information up to date. He isn’t going to bore you with 400 pages a week that aren’t going to matter later; it’s going to be relevant. His assignments are straightforward and fair, and he comes to class prepared.

A couple downsides: it’s not a horrible quality, but Hunt has a really calm voice. I wouldn’t recommend nighttime classes at the end of a long day or you might doze off. Another thing is that he is easily persuaded by students to comply to things that they want, but it’s because he obviously cares. I think a lot of people probably take advantage of how nice he is (so don’t do that).

I highly suggest you take a class with him while you’re at SFU. You won’t regret it! – ML

Martin Davidson

Have you ever had a professor where you’re like, “Wow, this would be a fun person to hang out and go for drinks with”? Well, that’s Martin Davidson.

Davidson teaches developmental psychopathology — basically dealing with young children and teenagers and their difficulties. Davidson is also a child psychologist, so he has real life stories that help you understand all of the topics he’s covering. It might also give you a chuckle because, let’s face it, kids do funny things.

Davidson is one of my all-time favourite teachers at SFU and I always recommend his class to anyone in psychology. He starts each class by playing music which I think is super cool and it put me in a good mood even though my class was at 9:30 a.m. on a Monday. I HATE mornings, but I actually looked forward to getting up just for his class.

He’s funny, makes the content easy to understand, and doesn’t treat you like an idiot undergrad which some professors do from time to time. Also, we got to write a paper on the movie Where The Wild Things Are which is definitely the most fun I’ve had writing in psychology (usually the essays are boring as hell).

Only downfall is he only teaches the one course so you can only have him once. If you do decide to take his course (which I suggest you do), make sure you enjoy it while you can! – JB


Gary Teeple

Teeple is nice enough, but he’s a very one-sided professor. The guy is obsessed with private property. Name anything in the world, any concept, and Teeple will tell you it exists because of private property.

His lectures can be kind of boring. He spends forever on one slide and then quickly flips through the rest of the slides because he feels like he already covered them (he hasn’t). His slides are very text-heavy and he doesn’t post them, so if you’re a slow typer, you’re in trouble.

The one upside was I found he was a really easy marker — even if it did take a while for him to give assignments back. – JP