I think it’s safe to say that everyone who has worked with students has had been asked at some point to write a letter of recommendation. For some students writing these letters is easy and fun, namely those who are excellent scholars, dynamic, and/or full of life. For students who are less remarkable it can sometimes be a challenge to find a sufficient list of positive things to say, but over time I’ve gotten better at it. And having been the beneficiary of some crucial letters of recommendation myself, I understand that it’s an important part of my job and one that I take seriously.
But it wasn’t until more recently that I discovered how much I enjoy writing recommendations for colleagues. In order to be asked to write letters for faculty you need to be more senior, which is a state of being that has crept up on me in the past five years or so. In that time I’ve been asked to review external tenure and promotion cases, to write recommendations for mid-tenure reviews and promotions to full professor, and to write nominations for awards. I find all of them to be more fun than writing student recommendations, although that may be simply a matter of the novelty of it. But the things I enjoy the most are writing nominations for awards. There is something incredibly fun about bragging about someone else’s accomplishments, probably in no small part since the people I’ve nominated for awards are highly accomplished. I wouldn’t have expected that I would find the task as enjoyable as I do, but I’m happy that I had the opportunity to discover it.