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127

A short (1-2 paragraph) hand written note on a card or postcard would be an appropriate gift. I have mentored about a dozen undergraduates and I still have the thank you notes they sent to me on my pin board in my office. The notes are nice reminders about the impact I had on the students.


116

I would prefer not get a gift from someone that is dependent on me. I don't want to end up in a situation of perceived (by the person receiving the gift, giving the gift, or by an outsider) bribery. I realize that in many cases it is an innocent show of appreciation, but just saying (or writing) "thank you" will achieve the same goal without the risk of it ...


88

After your defense, and final submission to the university; you can give the gift, with a thank you note. Right before your defense is a big no, in my opinion.


70

I would consider that, in many cases, helping students "outside of work time" is often still under the normal job description of a teaching assistant. However, since you are asking the question, I am going to assume that your TA went above and beyond their normal calling. Even in that case, a gift might make someone uncomfortable, and should certainly never ...


65

Actually, the thing that would be most appreciated - and valued - is a hand written letter on nice stationery giving congratulations and thanking him for his help in your own work. Short, professional, sincere. He will save it forever.


58

What is the professional/moral way of doing this? I think that if you have never invited/been invited to a casual gathering involving the advisor's family, it will be awkward to do so now. If you feel like a one-on-one dinner invitation is too much, how about a lunch appointment? I will say this - many universities have strict rules on receiving expensive ...


56

In my opinion you are asking yourself the wrong question. The important problem is not if it feels like a bribe to you, but if it could look like a bribe to others. Let's say you have another student whose thesis you are grading at the same time and he ends up with a worse grade. This might have been an objective decision, but still, if this other student ...


55

No way! It puts them in an uncomfortable position, even if they do not (and were not tempted to) accept it. They have the choice of (possibly) upsetting you, considering this a potential influencing attempt, even if not ultimately completed, in some places having to report it. In our place, we have to report all gifts or gift attempts, and hand them to the ...


55

I don't see any problem with this. Something from your own country would be appropriate, as would a book that is important in your field. Even a tourist souvenir from your country as something to remember you. But not too expensive or elaborate.


53

(Answer from Germany) Don't do this. Even small personal gifts in this situation are unusual here and may indeed create a "fishy" taste. German professors are public officials and public servants (so also other employees at university) are subject to strict anti-corruption rules. If you get an employment contract as PhD student, you'll also have to sign ...


45

Oddly enough, the most appreciated gift from a student is probably just your thanks delivered personally. Even just a passing conversation in the hall way expressing your appreciation for their help will be remembered. Students are often very appreciative of their professors, but often feel too embarrassed to actually say it. Of course, the prof will be ...


33

This might be a location dependent question, but in NW Europe a bottle of wine is appropriate for such and even lesser events. Many campus shops offer a standardized wine bottle in a gift wrap with the name of the university printed on it. They are the obvious choice, but there is plenty of room for creativity.


31

Many U.S. schools (especially state ones) actually have written policies on gifts. Look for it on your school's intranet, or ask HR if you can't find it. They vary: I know at least one state school where any gifts, even a cup of coffee from a professor to a former student, are forbidden. Some schools have a cap on monetary value, like $100. You're unlikely ...


24

In the general case, professors/lecturers/TAs should not accept gifts from students, as these things can lend themselves very easily to accusations of conflict of interest. This falls in the same general category as dating one of your students, or grading your kid's exam. That said, I can think of three situation where gifts are acceptable. (1) a ...


23

As others have already written, a gift is appropriate only after you are completely done. In my case, that was after the registrar had notified me that my application for degree had been approved by the program office. I had asked my supervisor a couple of probably unsubtle questions after the defense, and sent (to his home, not to the university) two ...


22

I would suggest sticking with a card, but writing your appreciation as extensively as you wish. There's no reason for the contents of the cards to be similar. Even ignoring the question of differences between faculty members, gifts can be tricky for professors to deal with, ethically, particularly when it's regarding a favor in a class. Finally, I ...


21

A personal gift from you, as an individual student, is not expected, at least by European or North-American etiquette. It may be nice to pool with other students and group members to offer a small gift (either something for the baby, or something for the father). It'd be more customary to offer it after the baby is born, rather than now. On the other hand, ...


20

I will disagree slightly with some of the previous answers. I come from a health-care perspective. A great deal of papers discuss the ethical/moral ramifications of accepting gifts from patients and subordinates and students/trainees. I will say up-front that I believe accepting valuable gifts from students is a problem and should be avoided in the vast ...


19

I have students bringing me gifts quite often. Like Stephan Kolassa, I am quite uncomfortable with it. I am made even more uncomfortable by the fact that in the local culture (not my native culture) it is common for subordinates to bring gifts to their boss, which seems to me like a continued corruption to keep ones job. As should be obvious to anyone in a ...


19

The appropriateness would depend on the culture. In Sweden it is customary for advisor and advisee to exchange presents. Usually, they consist on things like a fine vase of pottery. Personally, I would go for something that is somehow related to your research. For example, a pathologist expert in chimeric cells got custom made necklace and earrings with ...


15

As a college instructor, the one thing that has meant the most to me in terms of thanks has been when students tell my superiors how much they enjoyed having me as an instructor. Even just an email to my boss from a former student was a very solid form of thanks. It made me look good; it also made my supervisor proud of himself for one of his lowlings having ...


13

The religious connotations of word "Christmas" can be confusing and depend on the region. My UK university has Christmas and Easter vacations while most US universities now call these winter and spring vacations. In the US, a Christmas card implies a religious celebration while a holiday card is secular. In the UK, a Christmas card that says "Merry Christmas"...


13

Following the defense, a small token of appreciation would not be inappropriate. However, this should not be a substantial gift, as even after the defense, it could be viewed as a quid pro quo arrangement.


13

I would suggest writing them a note or card letting them know how much you appreciated their help; a couple of have students have done this for me in the past, and I've been really tickled by it. It scratches the same itch as a gift, but doesn't require figuring out what they would like. I wouldn't have minded getting chocolate instead, but it would have ...


13

Since you have completed your doctorate, you are no longer bound by gift rules, I suppose. Your relationship to your advisor now changes from one in which you have a subordinate role to one of collegiality. I don't see any particular issue here, but suggest, pretty strongly, that you invite the prof and his spouse. You don't need to invite the whole family,...


12

I completely agree with @F'x's assessment: no gift is necessary really. Having said that, if there's something you can do that's simple and doesn't strain your budget, then as a courtesy (from a colleague to another) that might be welcome. Having been in this situation myself (from the advisor's side) I can say that one thing parents of a new child lack ...


12

Your first sentence tells us that you are still a student in the institution where these professors teach. If you are currently in classes with any of these professors, or there is any possibility that you will be in their classes in the future, do not offer a gift, either prior to a request for an LOR or as a thank-you for having written one. Giving ...


11

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 ...


10

One of the circumstances when I see no problem in accepting a gift is when the gift has no monetary value. I was offered once a polystyrene toroidal earth at the end of a geometry class, whose cost was only a little time and effort. I accepted it as a token of gratitude and see no problem with that. I was sort of a TA, and I was not grading the students (...


10

In my opinion, it is appropriate, but I would get one card and sign it together with your peers. Others have pointed out that it's culturally dependent. That's surely true. In some countries one will see nativity scenes throughout towns and villages. Personally, I think all other public decorations I remember seeing are pagan, and I'd speculate pagan ...


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