Letters of RECOMMENDATION - Professor Rucker's Policy                HOME


A growing number of requests for job and graduate school letters of recommendation have inspired the following policy to be clearly explained. If you want Professor Rucker's help, please read this very carefully and fully comply.

Today, more and more employment applications include an online way for professional and academic references. While this seems rather easy and simple for students to utilize, it can prove to be a nightmare for the person offering the reference.


University faculty are asked all the time to offer references. If every student in a class or the major or minor expected one letter to be offered, most faculty would be spending a great deal of time online or simply writing letters during their work periods or holidays.

Many of the online request forms have three or more parts to be filled out, including providing detailed info about the person offering the reference, then a general evaluation with many questions, followed by a step asking for a detailed letter which offers specific information pertinent to the person and the needs of the position. The time it takes to complete one of these letter of recommendation online efforts is not all that short. Multiply that now by the number of students asking for these letters, and the multiple requests being made by students for many letters, and you begin to understand why this is not acceptable.

All faculty try to be of help to students and we certainly understand the concerns and the pressure that goes with this process for you. We have been through it ourselves, and we know carefully planning and detailed thought up front is always to the key to success.

Come see me or other faculty well in advance and talk through your ideas and plans. Be open to suggestions and clarifications you need about how this all works. Don't avoid us...ASK FOR ADVICE.

Be very clear also about the following:


Faculty are NOT required to offer letters of recommendation. Nothing in our academic contract requires
us to offer them for anybody. Faculty may also limit the total number of recommendations they offer to all students, no matter who you are.

Students must be professional in approach and ASK the faculty person either in person or in a telephone conversation, and do so well before any deadline. NEVER send an e-mail making this request. That can come across as personally self serving, rude, demanding and inconsiderate.

Never say " I NEED..."  or "I  WANT..." Your are making a polite request. The word ASK must be included if you want your request to be taken seriously and professionally.

If a faculty person turns you down, remember to say THANK YOU to that person anyway. This is a professional process, and that is the appropriate response to give a professional who denies your request.

If the faculty person agrees to offer a letter, the word "a" is a singular reference. Multiple letters are NOT implied. If you plan to apply to more than one job, school or whatever, TELL the faculty person this up front.
Faculty again have the right to say no to multiple, time consuming recommendation efforts.

If you are organized in approach, and have clearly thought through your options, and make clear decisions limiting the applications in number, you have a better chance of not being rejected.

Don't keep adding to your list of applications because you are nervous! After you have asked once limit your applications or get another person to offer more recommendation letters. Do not overwhelm one person with your requests.

Even if you apply late in the process, NEVER assume that urgency is shared. Faculty to not have to squeeze late requests into their schedule. Be more organized and thoughtful up front and know the deadlines before approaching the faculty person the first time. Be professional and reasonable.


Finally...While new technology is making so many things and processes a lot easier to navigate, the growing demand for online submissions of letters of recommendation is daunting. If you assume faculty are always ready to do what you ask, you are too focused on your needs. Consider the impact of your actions and those of other students who approach the same faculty person with a request. It can become too much, and we can and will say no to you. Sorry.

Faculty absolutely want you to be successful, yes! Last minute thinking and scrambling, or inconsiderate requests do not suggest professional thinking which is needed to be a successful professional.

THINK through all your options upfront, well in advance...CONSIDER more than one person to offer your letter...ASK the person if they can help you...ACCEPT whatever response you receive, BE RESPECTFUL and at the end, no matter what, SAY THANK YOU.

This Rucker policy is not all that new. New technology changes in the approach to offering letters of recommendation have inspired this need to spell it all out up front so no one can say "I didn't know."

If you know me, you know I will ask about this policy before I agree to offering any recommendations.
Be informed and prepared before you ask.

Thank you.

Professor Bob Rucker



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