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I. General Guidelines for Composition of the Letter

A. Opening

The letter should imply a neutral and objective review. For example, "Prof. X is under review (or consideration) for appointment at (or promotion to) the rank of Y." Statements such as "we are eager to" or "Prof. X has kindly agreed to join us at the rank of ..." should be avoided.

B. Main issues

There are three issues that play very important roles. In the passage that requests the evaluation, it might be helpful to specify the need for:

(1) careful analysis of the main scholarship/research contributions and their impact,
(ii) comparison with other prominent scholars in similar stages of their careers, and
(iii) indication of whether the overall record (quality, quantity, and impact) meets the standards of the proposed rank at the letter writer's institution.

If the record contains a significant amount of collaborative research, the solicitation letter should request commentary on the candidate's contributions to such work. If the appointment includes significant pedagogic or administrative duties, analysis of the candidate's abilities in these areas should be solicited.

C. UC features

For promotion to Prof VI and Above Scale, it is important that a suitable number of people familiar with these ranks be consulted (e.g., current and former senior UC faculty). For others, a brief description of the expectations of the rank could be provided. In all cases, explicit mention of the proposed rank helps clarify the issue. Also, it might be useful for the letter writers to be informed that in our University, in addition to the reviews conducted by the department, Chair, and the Dean, appointments and promotions include review by a campus-wide faculty committee as well as by the central administration.

D. Independence of letter writers

Where pertinent information can be provided, letters should be solicited from thesis advisors, post-doc mentors, research collaborators, and co-editors, but a reasonable number of letter writers should be wholly independent from the candidate. The exception might be for assistant professor appointments for candidates with recent PhD's, where strong letters from thesis advisors, members of the dissertation committee, or post-doc mentors might suffice.

E. Accelerated promotion

When promotion associated with an acceleration is being contemplated, it would be helpful if the letter identifies the proposed acceleration and states that such an advancement needs to be justified. Recall that the Academic Personnel Procedures Manual identifies two mechanisms for this justification: extraordinary achievements in the period of review or evidence of under-appreciation within the faculty ranks (APP 3-40-B.3).

II. Sample Letters

A. Sample #1: Appointment or Promotion for Associate Professor or Full Professor

B. Sample #2: Appointment or Promotion for Professor, Step VI, or Professor, Above Scale

C. Sample #3 (from APP 3-60): Accelerated Merit Increase for Professor

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Last revised on Jan 12, 2004