Every year from about May to July, I get requests to write tenure and promotion letters. I am happy to do this service for no honorarium in many cases. Many of the requests that I get, however, do not contain enough information for me to agree to write the letter. If you are the chair of a department requesting a letter, here are some suggestions.
- Make the request in May. By July, I will have often received five requests.
- Include a copy of the candidate’s CV. I shouldn’t have to search for their record online.
- State in the request if there is an honorarium. While the majority of universities do not pay, some do. I will often write the letter for no pay, but it should be stated up front that there is no honorarium. I fully understand if you don’t have the budget for it, but please be explicit.
- State whether or not the letter will be confidential. Some states do not allow confidential letters.
- Give a deadline for the letter.
- At this stage, the guidelines for promotion and tenure are helpful, but they can be sent later with the materials.
- Most important: Make sure my research area matches fairly closely with the candidate’s. It’s much easier for me to write a strong letter when there is a close match.