For how long might a job applicant include letters in a credentials file from a graduate advisor, committee member, or other professor from one’s graduate institution? I thought that once I found my first tenure-track, post-grad job, that it was up to me to cultivate senior scholars as mentors and allies on whom I could call for letters of recommendation. (Besides, the direction of my intellectual interests and the fact that I didn’t end up publishing my dissertation as a book meant that people at my graduate institution wouldn’t have been very good interpreters of my new work, in any case.)
It seems to me that there isn’t probably a hard-and-fast, one-size-fits-all numerical answer to this question. If your advisor really is among the only people in the world who can explain the importance and value of your work to a search committee, then keeping a letter from an advisor might be reasonable until your book comes out. On the other hand, I personally like to see that job applicants are networking, conferencing, and reaching beyond their intellectual cradles (so to speak). It’s a sign of intellectual and professional maturity that I like to see in a potential future colleague.
What do the rest of you think? Have any of you faculty-types ever refused to write a letter for a long-since-former student, or even gently suggested that you’re no longer the best person to write on hir behalf?
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