"Dear Committee Members," Do You Really Need a Letter of Recommendation?

Aug 27, 2014

We’ve all been asked for letters of recommendation. At the end of the day, what’s the point? 

That's one of many questions author and professor Julie Schumacher asks in her newest novel. She writes about the frustrations of one academic in her book “Dear 

Recommendation letters have descended upon us like the locusts on Egypt...

Committee Members.” Professor Jason Fitger is a seasoned, though bitter, member of the English department at the fictitious Payne University. Through a series of recommendation letters, we get a glimpse into the at times defeating world of academia.

Emeritus Professor of American Studies John Raeburn of the University of Iowa says Fitger’s character isn’t that far removed from real life. He compares writing recommendation letters to the plagues of the Old Testament. “Recommendation letters have descended upon us like the locusts on Egypt… as a former chair of the English department, I was asked to write between 100 and 150 letters a year.”

During this Talk of Iowa interview, host Charity Nebbe talks with Schumacher and Raeburn.