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If you have taught online recently and recorded any of your lectures, you can give that to a potential letter-writer from another institution (or even the person who wrote your first letter) and have that form the basis of the evaluation.


I am still a grad student, so I can't meaningfully contribute. I wonder, however, if it would be acceptable to contact someone from the hiring department and ask for their recommendation. On one hand that's probably the "safest" route in terms of supplying the search committee with most meaningful feedback, but on the other it could backfire, as I'm sure there are many applicants and a committee probably does not want everybody to email them about issues with their application.


This touches on the more fundamental question of whether one should tell one's colleagues that one is applying out. I'm currently up for tenure but will also look elsewhere this fall in case there's a great job I could be a fit for—location, proximity to family, security in the current context (I'm at a really small public LAC) are all reasons I keep an open mind despite the near certainty I'll be tenured. There likely won't be many jobs, and I will only apply super selectively, and even then the market is so tight.

But here's the catch. I've been advised by at least one of my references to inform my colleagues of my decision (rationale: they will ultimately learn about it and will be very upset you played two games at once, which I get and was actually my initial inclination: being frank). The reference also told me I would not be taken seriously by another department without a letter from my current institution commenting on my teaching. I'm now lost as to what I'm supposed to do—not wanting to spoil a well-oiled tenure process by sending mixed messages yet wanting my colleagues to know that I'm keeping my options open (for both professional and personal reasons).

Bill Vanderburgh

I think Marcus's proposed strategy is a good one. Ask a trusted colleague from another department to do a teaching visitation and write it up, with a request for them not to tell anyone you are considering applying for new jobs. (You could perhaps include the teaching observation letter in your application without telling the writer, but they might be surprised/upset when the search committee calls them.)

I don't think there is any reason for PreTenure to tell their department unless/until they get invited for a preliminary/initial screening interview, and maybe not even until there is a campus visit planned. Perhaps doubly so at a small LAC, at some of which deans or presidents can make pretty arbitrary decisions not to follow the tenure recommendation. A comment in your cover letter to the effect that you request your search be kept confidential is perfectly in line. As for the hiring department not taking your application seriously without a letter from your current department--that sounds a little overstated to me. As long as you have evidence of current teaching success, that will be good enough to start. Of course, if you become a serious contender they will want to speak to you chair. But before then--we all know how this works.

Phil's question is a good one. I think most ads get so many applications (200 seems to be a common number) that a question asked at the pre-application stage will likely not be remembered by the time files are being reviewed. But then again the search chair is not likely to be able to give you useful advice on a point like this, unless it is to tell you that a teaching letter from your department is truly required, which will be in the ad already if it is truly required.


At some schools, when they list what you need to include in an application, you must include it all. That is, sometimes, the committee is instructed to use a checklist, and the application will be deemed incomplete without all the pieces. So if a teaching letter is requested, you had better have one in there.
I know this may sound ridiculous, but such a method is meant to cut down on cronyism - you cannot just hire anyone you want. They must meet the criteria listed in the advertisement.

Not sure why I keep saying this to people who don’t care

Perhaps you could just stay in your current job? There are so few jobs to go around and something like 60% of your peers are going without jobs, and if you move there is no certainty the tenure line will be replaced.

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