Resources for Letter Writers
Faculty in the COM require several letters as part of their promotion application. These letters have unique requirements and are not the same as typical letters of recommendation.
Letters for promotion are divided into four categories:
- Departmental Promotion and Tenure Committee recommendation
- Chair letter of recommendation
Letters of Evaluation from Extramural Evaluators
The College of Medicine requires three extramural evaluations to be solicited by the Department Chair. These letters are required by the Dean and the COM Faculty Appointment and Promotions Committee and assist in the assessment of the candidate's academic credentials.
After the Departmental P&T committee’s review of the faculty member’s application for promotion, and before the departmental chair completes and submits a letter of recommendation to the Dean, the Department Chair must request letters of evaluation from extramural evaluators.
Please check with your department to determine if your department has further requirements regarding criteria and/or letters of evaluation.
These letters must:
- be solicited from faculty holding academic rank at or above the rank under consideration for the candidate’s promotion at non-Upstate institutions;
- have no more than two solicited from faculty who have had collaborative engagement with the candidate up to three years prior to consideration for promotion and/or tenure;
- not be solicited from faculty who have had collaborative engagement with the candidate within three years of the candidate’s consideration for promotion and/or tenure.
Exemptions to the requirement for letters of evaluation:
Some faculty are exempt for extramural letters for promotion to associate professor if they are considered “hospital-based.” A non-inclusive list of such specialties includes hospital- based disciplines such as pathology, emergency medicine, radiology, hospitalist medicine and anesthesiology.
Note: All promotion applications for tenure as well as for professor require three letters of evaluation.
Please review these Guidelines for Extramural Letter Writers.
Letters of Support
In contrast to letters of evaluation, letters of support may be requested from individuals regardless of academic rank who can provide evidence of the candidate’s excellence. These letters are most similar to typical letters of reference. They may be requested from faculty colleagues, learners, community leaders, recipients of service (such as patients), and/or others who are able to provide testimony regarding the candidate’s excellence in the areas of education, research, and/or service.
There are no specific guidelines for letters of support and, in general, they are not more than one page. Letter writers should explain their relationship to the faculty candidate for promotion and provide details regarding their own work and expertise as well as their knowledge of the candidate’s accomplishments.
Letter from the Departmental Faculty Appointment, Promotions and Tenure Committee
This letter usually written by the chair of the committee and is provided as a recommendation to the Department Chair. It is included in the candidate's promotional file.
The letter must include:
- Specific and detailed assessments of the candidate’s credentials and accomplishments meeting the standards and criteria for proficiency and excellence in one area;
- In instances where the merit of awarding tenure is deliberated, the letter must include specific and detailed assessments of the candidate’s scholarship;
- An assessment of candidate collegiality, including professionalism and personal engagement in advancing the departmental and institutional goals and mission.
Letter of Recommendation from the Department Chair to the Dean
The Chair must prepare and submit a letter of recommendation to the Dean and to be included in the candidate's Promotional File. This letter may include comments referring to the deliberations and decisions reached by the Departmental Promotion and Tenure Committee and must include:
- Comments on extramural evaluations
- Comments on whether or not the candidate fulfills the criteria of proficiency in all areas defined in II.A, and excellence in one area;
- Specific and detailed assessments of the candidate’s scholarship when tenure is being deliberated;
- An assessment of the candidate’s collegiality, including professionalism and the candidate’s personal engagement in advancing the departmental and institutional goals and mission.
Please review this Guide for Letters of Recommendation from the Department Chair.
Resources and References
Bourque SL, Lee CJ, Jone MD, Sullivan GM. Career in Transitions Rip Out Series: Letters of Recommendation. JGME. 2019; August: 479-480.
Wright SM, Ziegelstein RC. Writing more informative letters of reference. J Gen Intern Med. 2004;19(5, pt 2):588–593. doi:10.1111/j.1525-1497.2004.30142.x
Sample letters for requesting extramural review letters: