Template for Soliciting Outside Letters of Evaluation of Scholarship Sample Letter

Dear x:

Thank you for agreeing to serve as an outside evaluator for X, Assistant Professor of X at Washington and Lee University. Professor X is being considered for promotion to Associate Professor with tenure (OR to Full Professor) during this academic year. I am enclosing Professor X's curriculum vitae and scholarly materials that he (or she) has selected for your evaluation.

I ask that you evaluate the quality of the work that has been sent you and comment on the significance of its contribution to the discipline(s). I ask that you not comment on the quantity of the work. Please understand that you may not have received all of the candidate's published work or work-in-progress; the candidate is free to select only those pieces that represent his or her best work for your evaluation. I also ask that you refrain from making a judgment about the candidate's overall suitability for tenure or promotion, and that you do not comment on whether or not the candidate would be tenured or promoted at your own institution. Please evaluate only the quality of the work we have sent you, and the promise the candidate shows for a continuing productive career of scholarship or research.

To provide additional context for your evaluation, let me describe our college. Washington and Lee University is a highly selective national liberal arts college, located in the Shenandoah Valley in Lexington, Virginia. The university is comprised of three academic units: the College, with twenty departments and numerous programs representing the liberal arts and sciences; the Williams School, with undergraduate departments in Business Administration, Accounting, Economics and Politics; and the Law School.

W&L enrolls approximately 1750 undergraduates. The University prides itself on being a teaching-intensive institution, fostering close contact with students in the traditional classroom setting and in myriad small-group and individual instructional settings. Undergraduate research is an emphasis on campus, and faculty are encouraged to develop research programs in which undergraduates can be genuine participants and collaborators. The annual teaching load of the undergraduate faculty is 5.5 courses per year, over a unique calendar of two 12-week terms in fall and winter, and a 4-week spring term. To offset this commitment to teaching, W&L offers sabbaticals every fifth year, and all assistant professors are eligible for a pre-tenure leave, typically in their third, fourth or fifth year.

Your candid evaluation of Professor X's scholarship will greatly assist us in the evaluation process. I would appreciate receiving your letter by X date. Please address the letter to me and I will include it in Professor X's file. Let me assure you that your letter will be held in strict confidence; only members of the committees involved will have access to it. The candidate will not see your letter.

If you are unable to assist us in this request, please let me know promptly. I thank you in advance for your help with this important process.