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My undergraduate research adviser is expelled from the university for political reasons (in Middle East) after more than a decade of teaching and research. Now they have even forced the department to remove his name from the faculty list on the website of the department and they have taken away his academic email address.

I am applying to graduate schools in US and I want to include his recommendation letter in my application. What are the chances that the admission committee rejects my application due to

  1. My adviser not being listed on the department webpage.

  2. Not having an official email.

Some additional info: He has tens of publications which indicate his affiliation. He does have the letter head of the university, which can be used to print the letter on. The webpage of the department cannot be easily found by one search. One must find it through the university website which can take some effort.

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You've left out a key piece of information: what he doing now? If he's working at a different institution, that's no problem. No one will notice. If he's unemployed, that's trickier. –  Ben Webster Jan 15 at 18:50
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Problem is he is currently unemployed and not affiliated.. –  trxw Jan 15 at 19:08

2 Answers 2

up vote 31 down vote accepted

This is a tricky situation, but as long as everyone is careful and honest, you should be fine.

Here's what I would recommend. Yes, you should ask your former advisor to submit a reference letter on your behalf, from his non-academic email address. You should mention in your statement that he has left your university, but you should not say anything about why he left. Any further details are up to your former advisor to reveal, if he wishes to do so.

Your former advisor absolutely should not submit his letter on university letterhead, because he is not affiliated with the university. He should include a very brief bio describing his former affiliation and listing his departure date. If possible, he should include some external evidence of his scholarship, like a pointer to his Scopus or Google Scholar profile. If he wants to describe the circumstances of his departure, he should keep the story very brief; his letter should focus on you, not about him, his former employer, or their political conflicts.

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An attempt to represent the former scientist as "not a scientist at all" in my opinion does not make any sense.

Normally, the university professor should have publications. These publications stay forever. Not only they confirm the competence, also the article headers always include information about the authors affiliation. If the journals have been at least moderately reputable, such publications can be easily found on the web.

Simply ask for a letter of recommendation. Of course, to make verification easier, he could also write a couple of sentences about himself, pointing to his most successful publications.

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