Reference Letters

 Letters of reference are required for the appointment and promotion process and are essential for the decision process.

Download a handout for this section: Reference Letters (pdf)

Who may write letters of reference:

Appointments or promotions above the level of Assistant Professor require a minimum of 5 letters (see Academic Personnel Policy Section 10.2 & Section 10.3). At least 3 of these letters must be from individuals who are ALL of the following:

  • Not UMMS faculty
  • Not a collaborator or mentor within the previous 3 years
  • At an academic rank equal to or above the proposed rank for the candidate

The remaining letters may be from any of the following:

  • UMMS faculty
  • Mentors, advisers or collaborators (previous or current)
  • Non-academic professionals at external organizations

Personnel actions at Affiliate, Senior Affiliate, Instructor, Lecturer & Assistant Professor levels require a minimum of 3 letters (see Academic Personnel Policy Section 10.2). These letters may be from individuals in any of the lists above.

Procedure for soliciting letters of reference:

The department chair is responsible for soliciting and receiving letters of reference.

  1. The candidate for appointment or promotion submits a list of potential referees, including complete and accurate contact information (title, affiliation, business address, email, telephone), to her/his department chair. The referees should meet the criteria listed above. In order to obtain the minimum number of letters required, approximately twice the minimum number should be solicited (e.g., approximately 10 for appointment or promotion to associate or full professor; approximately 6 for appointment or promotion to lower ranks).
  2. The department chair selects the referees: he/she may use some or all of the names proposed by the candidate and may include additional referees. Department staff send solicitation letters; the candidate's CV and narrative statement (at the option of the candidate) may be included. The Office of Faculty Affairs recommends a standard template for the solicitation letter (download here).
  3. The letters of reference are received by the department and added to the candidate's basic file.

Please note:

  • Candidates may contact potential referees informally when generating the list of referees
  • Candidates must NOT provide referees with templates or drafts of letters.

Guidance on letters of reference

The ideal external letter of reference . . .

  • Is from an authority in your field who knows you well enough to highlight your accomplishments and address unique aspects of your career
  • But not a close friend, mentor, or former supervisor

Be active in identifying and maintaining contact with potential referees

  • Network: seek out individuals at meetings
  • Identify referees (external & internal) who can write about your unique accomplishments
  • Stay in contact: update referees with your important accomplishments