Writing and Reviewing Letters of Recommendation for Equity

Letters of recommendation are used in the admissions and faculty search processes to glean information and qualities which may go unnoticed in the review of an applicant’s file. However, they are also one of the most common places that bias is written into applicant records– sometimes in subtle ways. Toward the goal of equity-minded evaluation, this workshop 1) situates letters of recommendation as key components in holistic evaluations of faculty job applicants 2) reviews key research studies on bias in letters of recommendation, 3) enables participants to recognize gender and racial biases in existing letters, 4) provides practice in reviewing letters from an equity-minded perspective. Activities are specifically designed to help attendees develop knowledge, skills, and language to manage common equity dilemmas inherent in how we review, solicit, and write letters of recommendation.

Assistant Professor |Montclair State University
Román is an assistant professor in the educational leadership department at Montclair State University. His research focuses on faculty learning and development regarding issues of racial equity. He also has experience designing and facilitating workshops to support faculty in developing equity-minded competencies. His current projects focus on understanding how race operates in doctoral education socialization, the academic job market, hiring, and tenure and promotion. His research appears in the Journal of Higher Education, American Educational Research Journal, Teachers College Record, Review of Higher Education.

Research Associate, Pullias Center for Higher Education University of Southern California
Steve Desir is a Research Associate at the USC Rossier School of Education. His research interests include racial equity in college admissions, organizational change, and the use of theory-based psychological interventions to facilitate behavioral change.

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