Registrar
University of Memphis - Students
Letters of Recommendation

Because a letter of recommendation may include information from the student's academic record and because the letter itself is considered part of the student's academic record, writing a letter of recommendation may not be as straightforward as you think. Key considerations are discussed below, but first review these terms.

Terms

  • Personally identifiable information from the student's education record
    - This is non-directory information such as student courses, course schedules, grades, GPA information, etc.
  • Personal knowledge of the student
    - Your observations on such matters as the student's work ethic, punctuality, reliability, creativity, cooperation, etc. This excludes personally identifiable information from the student's education record.
  • Release
    - The student's permission for you to include personally identifiable education record information in the letter.
  • Waiver
    - The student's consent to waive his/her right to ever view your letter.
  • Request for Letter of Recommendation
    - For your convenience, a sample form for requesting a letter of recommendation has been developed. The form contains pertinent student and recipient information sections as well as release and waiver sections. Further discussion will reference this form.

Considerations

If a student asks for a letter or recommendation, have the student complete the Request for Letter of Recommendation. In guiding the student through the form, consider the following:

Confidentiality Flag

Determine if the student has a confidentiality flag set in the Banner system. If the student does, the student must give you permission to write a letter (complete the form), regardless of whether it will contain personally identifiable information from the student's education record or not.

Release of the Student's Education Record Information

Is the student willing for information from his/her student education record to be included in the letter? Have the student indicate Yes or No in the Release portion of the form.

If the student answers Yes, s/he should specify what information can be included; you may then include the specified information from the student's education record as well as your personal knowledge of the student.

If the student answers No, you may include only your personal knowledge of the student--no information from the student's education record.

Waiver of Student Right to Review Letter

Since the letter of recommendation becomes part of the student's education record, and since under FERPA the student has a right to view his/her education record, the student would be able to view the letter in the future.

If you do not object to this, have the student indicate, "NO. I do NOT waive my right to review a copy of the letter at any time in the future."

If you do object to this, ask the student to waive his/her right to review by indicating, "YES. I waive my right to review."

NOTE:
A student’s waiving his/her right to review letters of recommendation in their education record on our campus does not apply to the receiving institution. If the student does not waive his/her right to review letters of recommendation at the receiving institution, the letter may be viewed by the student as part of the education record there.

Processing the Form

Have the student sign and date the form; then make a copy for your records. When you have written the letter, send the student release and a copy of the letter of recommendation to the Registrar's Office to be imaged as part of the student's education record.

 

  Student Education Records

   UM FERPA Compliance Policy
   Release of Student Education Record
   Annual Notice: Student FERPA Rights
   Faculty/Staff Access
   Student's Release Authorization
   Parent Access

 

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Last Updated: 9/4/14