IV. Letters of Reference

A minimum of four external letters of reference for faculty members being considered for promotion and/or tenure must be in the PTR File prior to final recommendation by the Departmental PTR Advisory Committee.  All solicited reference letters that are received must be included in the PTR File.

The Department Head is responsible for obtaining the external letters of reference.  Both the faculty member, and the Department Head and/or the Departmental PTR Advisory Committee, should each create a list of five or more names of potential external reviewers. The Department Head should request at least half of the total number of letters from names on the faculty member list. The remaining letters should  be requested from the Department Head and/or the Departmental PTR Advisory Committee list.

Each external evaluation letter in the PTR file should be accompanied by a copy of the letter used to solicit the evaluation.  If a common template was used to solicit all of the candidate’s letters, a single copy of the specific template used for the candidate can be included.  In addition, the PTR file should include an indication of which letters are from individuals suggested by the faculty member and which are from individuals suggested by the Department Head or Departmental PTR Advisory Committee.

Reference letters should be obtained from tenured faculty, or scholars of equivalent stature, in the faculty member’s field outside of the university who can speak to his or her professional contribution to scholarship and/or creative accomplishments.  It is important to solicit an impartial evaluation of the faculty member’s contributions to the field.  These external letters should not be from close acquaintances, former mentors, or frequent collaborators.   Letters of reference for faculty members for promotion to full professor must be obtained from individuals who hold this or an equivalent rank.

At a minimum, the Department Head should provide the following to external referees:

  • the faculty member’s complete curriculum vita;
  • Information about the nature of the faculty member’s appointment that could be relevant in evaluating his/her scholarly and/or creative achievements (e.g., joint appointments, administrative appointments and directorships, regional campus appointments).
  • copies of the  faculty member’s major publications or creative works as identified by the faculty member;
  • an explicit statement of what the faculty member is being considered for and whether or not the decision is mandatory with respect to tenure;

Each letter requesting an evaluation from an external reviewer must include the following explicit statement: “Your letter will become part of a faculty member’s Promotion, Tenure, and Reappointment (PTR) file, which will be viewed by faculty and University administrators involved in the PTR process.  In addition, under State of Connecticut Freedom of Information statutes governing state employees and the University’s AAUP collective bargaining agreement, the faculty member may request access to his or her PTR file and may see the letters of reference.”

In addition, each letter of request should ask the external referee to provide:

  • his or her relationship to the faculty member (if any);
  • an assessment of the quality and impact of the faculty member’s scholarship and/or creative accomplishments, and, if appropriate, professional service.

Updated: October 2011