Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Rant: Academic "Letterhead" Requirements

(All rants, including this one, are here.)

Countless times, from me to Chair/Dean xxx at Some Other University: 

I am happy to help with your evaluation of Professor zzz. This email will serve as my letter. [email here]...
Countless times, from Chair/Dean xxx to me: 
Thanks very much for your thoughtful evaluation. Can you please put it on your university letterhead and re-send?
Fantasy response from me to Chair/Dean xxx:
Sure, no problem at all. My time is completely worthless, so I'm happy to oblige, despite the fact that email conveys precisely the same information and is every bit as legally binding (whatever that even means in this context) as a "signed" "letter" on "letterhead." So now I’ll copy my email, try to find some dusty old Word doc letterhead on my hard drive, paste the email into the Word doc, try to beat it into submission depending on how poor the formatting / font / color / blocking looks when first pasted, print from Word to pdf, attach the pdf to a new email, and re-send it to you. How 1990’s.
Actually last week I did send something approximating the fantasy email to a dean at a leading institution. I suspect that he didn't find it amusing. (I never heard back.) But as I also said at the end of that email,
"Please don’t be annoyed. I...know that these sorts of 'requirements' have nothing to do with you per se. Instead I’m just trying to push us both forward in our joint battle with red tape."