As you might have seen from my history I had a very bad advisor who deliberately underpaid me, stole my research work and undermined my career at multiple phases.

Now I am done with my university and leaving next month. A professor in my department had been very supportive of me during these times, giving me advice on how to handle this situation, gave me recommendation letters to apply for PhD programs at other universities and also got me a internship. I just want to thank her for her help. I usually would have got a champagne or something but I know she doesn't drink alcohol. Any advice?

  • 14
    The gift I appreciate most from an advisee who is leaving is: a nice card, and assurances that they will email occasionally to let me know how they're doing. If some chocolate or cookies I can share with the lab accompany the card, that's nice too :)
    – ff524
    Commented Mar 26, 2014 at 13:52
  • 4
    Having said that...there are some gifts that essentially every academic would appreciate. For instance, how about a nicely bound book of blank paper together with a nice pen that would write particularly well on the paper in the book? Not everyone would actually write in it, but even if they don't then it sits around in their office looking good. (Apologies for the hypocrisy, but it does seem like a nice gift idea.) Of course this really just exploits the fact that academics write things down and thus applies much more broadly. Commented Mar 26, 2014 at 18:01
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    A pen is the traditional academic thank you gift I believe (obviously a nice pen!).
    – LisaG
    Commented Mar 26, 2014 at 18:17
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    I disagree with this close and am voting to reopen - I think this is a perfectly reasonable, general question about etiquette in academia.
    – ff524
    Commented Mar 26, 2014 at 20:04
  • 5
    A cat. No wait. A card with "thank you" should be enough.
    – okw
    Commented Mar 27, 2014 at 12:59

1 Answer 1


It's nice that you want to do this for your professor. Thinking over what I would like (and have received in the past), the following comes to mind:

  • a note (email, letter, whatever you prefer) saying essentially a longer version of what you said above. A heartfelt note of this kind is the best kind of thanks.

  • if you'd like to get something more tangible for the professor, a little token that they can place on their desk (like what Pete L. Clark mentions) is always nice. It doesn't even have to cost lots of money. I have students who made paper models for me (I teach geometry) and I have them all over my desk :).

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