School of Medicine Office of Faculty Affairs

Guidelines for External and Internal Letters of Reference

In accordance with the Provost’s Guidelines for Faculty Appointments, Reappointments, Nonrenewals, Promotions, and Conferral of Tenure (Revised January 1998), the School of Medicine will implement the selection and solicitation of internal and external letters of reference for faculty appointment, promotion, and conferral of tenure as follows:

An “external referee” is an individual who currently does not hold a faculty appointment at the University of Pittsburgh.  An “internal referee” is an individual who currently holds a faculty appointment at the University of Pittsburgh.  A “candidate” is a faculty member who has been proposed for appointment, promotion, or conferral of tenure.

For tenure and tenure stream actions, the Provost’s Guidelines require that a minimum of 6 letters from external referees be included in the candidate’s portfolio.  Additional letters may be included from internal referees, as long as the referee does not hold an appointment in the candidate’s department. For promotions or appointments in the non-tenure stream, additional letters from internal referees may be included. 

The Department Chair shall seek input from the candidate and the department committee for appointments and promotions to develop a list of 12 potential external referees and four potential internal referees. Of the total potential referees, the candidate may submit up to three suggested names, with the remainder suggested by the department committee and department chair. The department chair will submit the list of potential referees to OFA along with the candidate’s dossier.

The potential referees should be well-qualified scientists, scholars, educators, and clinicians who are able to provide a fair and objective evaluation of the candidate’s work, and whose rank is equivalent to or higher than the candidate’s proposed rank. In general, a potential referee should have at least an “arms-length” relationship with the candidate. The nature of the professional relationship of the candidate and the potential referee must be specified and there must be a brief statement of the referee’s academic qualifications. The majority of referees should have no previous working relationship with the candidate. When nominating a candidate in the Henry system, this information is provided in the referee table under “Reason Selected.”

The Office of Faculty Affairs (OFA) will solicit and receive all letters.  A candidate is not permitted to solicit a letter from a referee.

Members of the Tenured Faculty Promotions and Appointments (TFPA) Committee or the Non-Tenured Faculty Promotions and Appointments (NTFPA) Committee may recommend additional referees.

OFA will include all letters received from referees in the candidate’s portfolio.