I'm a full professor in a US STEM field about to go on the job market for teaching professorships because of a terminal financial emergency at my current institution (a liberal arts college). I am fortunate to have worked with someone very well-known and respected in my field, especially for his contributions to education. When I went up for promotion to full professor, he wrote a strong letter of support, which he was kind enough to share with me.

Would it be better for me to include the letter in my applications or to just list him as a reference? He is fine with me doing either.

(Technically, I'm not applying for a specific position right now. Faculty at my institution have been invited to submit a CV, teaching statement, and research statement to a neighboring R1 institution in better financial shape. I am also planning to create an online dossier, which I will reference in my statements and will share with people I know at other nearby institutions.)

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    Follow the instructions you were given in the email or web page that described what you are supposed to do. If you were instructed to include a letter, include it. If not, don’t. If it’s ambiguous, contact the relevant person or office to ask for clarification.
    – Dan Romik
    Apr 5, 2021 at 7:08
  • If you've been invited to submit (among other things) a research statement, why do you believe that the role for which you'll be considered is a teaching professorship? Apr 5, 2021 at 9:04
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    @DanielHatton Because I've been told so. Apr 5, 2021 at 16:39
  • @DanRomik I have modified the title and added a sentence at the end to address people's questions. I appreciate the support being shown to a tenured professor whose college is closing. Apr 5, 2021 at 16:43
  • Thanks. You have my sympathies of course. About your question, I don’t know what’s the right thing to do, that depends on what the letter says and other factors, but generally speaking I think the default norm in US academia is to not include a letter of recommendation in any documents you are sending to people, unless such a letter is expressly solicited. On the other hand, listing a reference is common and is often a standard thing people put at the end of their CV.
    – Dan Romik
    Apr 5, 2021 at 16:49

2 Answers 2


I take it this is in the United States. In that case, letters are never provided by the applicant. A list of references would be provided by the applicant.


Sometimes hiring committees prefer a letter coming directly from the evaluator, as opposed to via the candidate, as it may be more candid.

  • Thank you. Can you tell me more about your experience with hiring committees. Apr 5, 2021 at 16:44
  • @Dan Romik's above advice to follow whatever instructions there are seems sound. Practices vary by country. If nothing specified, I would tend to list the person as a reference.
    – Mister Mak
    Apr 6, 2021 at 8:35

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