48 · SPEC Kit 293
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
familiar with their work, the departments must also seek letters from referees other than
those suggested by the candidates. Additional comments on this point are found below.
Department and Candidate Participation in Selection of Evaluators
Each candidate must be provided an opportunity to nominate external evaluators. The
candidate’s list of suggested external evaluators must include enough names to guarantee
some degree of privacy to the evaluators. That is, the names must not be so few, nor the
list so structured, that the candidate can, in effect, direct the inquiry toward particular
individuals. A majority of the external evaluations must come from the department’s,
rather than the candidate’s, nominations. These provisions suggest, in combination,
that the unit request four to eight names from the candidate, that it solicit opinions from no
more than two or three of the candidate’s choices, and that it obtain a slightly larger
number of opinions from others.
The candidate has no privilege of vetoing external reviewers, but may indicate individuals
whom he or she considers inappropriately biased. The candidate cannot reasonably
request avoidance of more than one or two individuals. It is the unit’s responsibility to
consider each such request seriously, but the unit is not bound to honor the request. If the
questioned evaluator’s opinion is deemed particularly relevant to the case, the unit may
solicit an opinion.
Appropriate selection of evaluators. Be selective in choosing evaluators. Evaluators must
be appropriate in several dimensions they must be from appropriate institutions, in a
position to comment upon the case from a perspective that will be informative to reviewing
committees, and must be of appropriate rank.
Letters should be solicited only from outside evaluators who are in a position to comment
in a discriminating and objective way on the nominee’s current research or other
professional work and should be from peer institutions which are used for other
comparisons such as salaries. If the reviewers are not from peer institutions, please explain
in the biographical sketch why the evaluator was chosen. In the campus committee, this
matter is taken seriously. There are very good reasons for choosing evaluators from peer
(or better) institutions, the principal ones being that such persons are more likely than
others to share our standards for promotion and tenure and to understand the environment
for scholarship.
The use of evaluators from industry or commerce, government agencies, or national
laboratories should be limited for similar reasons. If such a person is used, his or her letter
should not be part of the minimal group of four, but rather, in addition to the letters from
evaluators in academe, and a clear statement should be made in the statement of the
evaluator’s qualifications about his or her knowledge of academic institutions, and why
this individual was chosen.
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