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How should external referees be selected for a promotion or tenure dossier?

Three to six letters of reference must be included in every promotion or tenure dossier, at least three of which must be from external reviewers. “External” means from outside the University of Colorado system (but not necessarily outside the state of Colorado). If a candidate is applying for tenure, all external letters of reference must address specifically whether the candidate meets the School of Medicine’s standard for tenure.

External letters of recommendation are confidential under Colorado law and may not be reviewed by the candidate.

How are external referees selected (and who selects them)? 

According to university policies and the Rules of the School of Medicine, external letters of reference must be requested by, and submitted to, the Department Chair (or Division or Section Head) or to the Chair of the Departmental Advisory (Promotion and Tenure) Committee. External evaluators must be selected by the department in consultation with the candidate. Candidates for promotion or tenure must be given the opportunity to suggest possible evaluators and also to indicate specific scholars to exclude from consideration, if their evaluations might constitute a conflict of interest or be prejudiced against the candidate.

Who is a good external letter writer? What do members of the SOM Faculty Promotions Committee look for?

External referees should be able to “accurately evaluate the major activities and qualifications of the candidate.” Ideally, external letter writers will provide an objective, “arm’s-length” evaluation. While letters from former trainees, colleagues, thesis supervisors or fellowship directors are respected, additional weight is given to letters from academicians who do not have such a relationship with the faculty candidate. At least some of the external letters should be from faculty members holding an academic rank at least as high as that sought by the candidate.

Are external letters required for promotion in the Clinical Practice Series?

Yes. External letters are required for faculty members seeking promotion in the Clinical Practice Series. These letters may be solicited from referring physicians or others who are qualified to judge the candidate’s clinical work or his or her local, regional or national reputation.[1] External evaluators may comment on the candidate’s clinical skill, quality improvement activities, responsiveness, teaching ability, professionalism, service to the community, contributions to professional organizations or leadership in the field. Individuals who hold clinical or other faculty appointments at the University of Colorado may not serve as external evaluators.

Faculty members seeking appointment or promotion in the Clinical Practice Series are required to demonstrate a regional reputation (for appointment or promotion to Associate Professor of Clinical Practice) or a national reputation (at the rank of full professor).