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Gift for former professor

Discussion in 'Social Life, Food & Drink, Travel' started by Mr.Pinchy, Mar 21, 2010.

  1. Mr.Pinchy

    Mr.Pinchy Senior Member

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    Hello; what is a good gift for a professor? I am no longer her student but she wrote me a reference letter which got me into two jobs and a research grant. Keep in mind that I am a broke undergraduate student and won't be able to afford a $25k pen or a vacation trip around Europe.

    I was thinking

    - A pen
    - Gift card for coffee shop
    - Chocolates
    - Donation in name of

    Keep the ideas coming. Thanks.
     


  2. DNW

    DNW Stylish Dinosaur

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    A monogrammed fountain pen is a great idea, IMO. How about a nice leather portfolio?
     


  3. why

    why Distinguished Member

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    Your first paycheck.
     


  4. philosophe

    philosophe Distinguished Member

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    I am a professor, so let me help you.

    Faculty members write recommendations all the time. It's an extension of teaching, and I am always delighted to see my students succeed. Over the years, some students have given me small gifts--a book, a Starbucks card for $20, etc. These are all nice but totally unnecessary.

    What I really appreciate is hearing from students as their careers progress. Former students have sent me articles they've published, visited when they've been in town for conferences, or just emailed with news. It is very rewarding to know that my teaching and mentoring have a made a difference.

    I recommend that you drop by office hours or write a note to thank your professor for the valuable intellectual engagement and mentoring. If by chance this professor is untenured, write to the Department Chair or the Dean about how important the professor has been for your academic development.
     


  5. L'Incandescent

    L'Incandescent Stylish Dinosaur

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    I agree with philosophe. (I'm a university professor as well, probably in the same field as philosophe.) I understand your desire to show your appreciation for someone who did you an important benefit. But writing letters is a normal part of our jobs, along with teaching, publishing, etc. If someone gave me a gift for teaching a really great class, I'd feel like I had received a tip, and as a professional I would find that inappropriate. Receiving a gift for writing letters feels similar. When I've received such gifts in the past, I've always appreciated the sentiment, but I've also wished that the students hadn't sent them.

    If the professor is untenured, then a letter to her department chair will definitely be appreciated.
     


  6. erictheobscure

    erictheobscure Distinguished Member

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    I must be one chintzy professor because I wouldn't mind receiving a gift for writing a letter of rec. A coffee shop gift card sounds thoughtful and useful.

    Maybe I'll feel differently after I've been doing this for a while (if I get tenure, knock on wood).
     


  7. westinghouse

    westinghouse Distinguished Member

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    A bottle of wine.
     


  8. Notreknip

    Notreknip Distinguished Member

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    I've received wine and a pen from students before. I tried to turn down both, but it was clear that the students had been quite thoughtful and they insisted.

    A thank-you card is all that I would accept for a reference letter.

    That said, I have given $20 gift cards (books, coffee shops, etc.) in the past for profs that have written for me.
     


  9. Pantisocrat

    Pantisocrat Distinguished Member

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    Go to his office hours and see what objects grace his desk and shelves. Professors are humans, and they do like gifts despite the sentiments shared here. I've always presented them exotic goods, from hard to find confectionaries to paintings (by me) or just something completely random such as socks with university logos or monogrammed pocket squares.
     


  10. philosophe

    philosophe Distinguished Member

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    Maybe I'll feel differently after I've been doing this for a while (if I get tenure, knock on wood).

    Publish like crazy. We are rooting for you!
     


  11. dhc905

    dhc905 Distinguished Member

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    I had a similar question regarding gifts not for a professor, but my superiors at work who wrote me letters of recommendation. Obviously different because I was applying to business school and I've been making money for 3 years (and they know how much I've been making) so I didn't have an excuse to cheap out on them. I ended up going with a nice bottle of wine, a sentimental bottle of wine for writing me the recommendation, and I have 3 bottles of johnnie blue heading my way in the event that I get in, as a celebratory/remember me type of gift. Don't think that applies in your case, as philosophe and your income will point out thought [​IMG]
     


  12. Mr. Clean

    Mr. Clean Senior Member

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  13. samblau

    samblau Senior Member

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    I think creativity shows actual appreciation i.e. if you only have $15 to spend and you are buying i.e. a box of chocolates, find a local shop rather than buying the generic box of Godiva. Is the prof interested in a book, that is a classy gift. (I love receiving booze...a bit uncomfortable giving unless I really know the person). On a somewhat related note...I have written every letter of rec I have had sent on my behalf....classic fun last year when a partners secretary re-formatted my draft being sent to a judge to read "Dear Honorable" upon seeing that the address was to "The Honorable XXX". When another lawyer took forever to sign my draft he told me he "added some extra bull shit" on my behalf.
     


  14. JayJay

    JayJay Stylish Dinosaur

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    A thank you note, with a copy to her department chair regardless of whether she is tenured or not.
     


  15. Mr.Pinchy

    Mr.Pinchy Senior Member

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    Thanks for the help. I have decided that since I haven't seen her in a while, I will drop by on her birthday, with a letter forwarded to her department head and a box of chocolates.
     


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