Faculty are essential to student fellowship success. Encouraging students to apply, crafting strong letters of recommendation, and serving on institutional nominating committees are just a few of the ways in which faculty are vital partners to our office.

Encouraging Students to Apply

We want to meet your most outstanding students. Maybe they earn the highest marks on exams. Or they offer the most insightful comments during class discussion. Perhaps you learn about unique service or civic commitments they’re undertaking. When you come across exceptional students, please take a moment to email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and refer them to our office. And, if you know of prestigious scholarships in your field, encourage these students to apply. Sometimes all it takes is a word of encouragement from a faculty member they admire to convince students to apply.

Students in a class

Crafting Strong Letters of Recommendation

Your letters hold great weight with selection committees for nationally-competitive scholarships. These aren’t standard character references. When asked to write a letter for a prestigious scholarship, keep the following in mind:

  • Be specific.

    The more details you can provide about the student’s work in your class or lab, the better. For example, if the student will be a co-author on a forthcoming paper for your lab, include a statement on the student’s contributions to the project and where you are in the submission process.

  • Place the student in context.

    How does this student compare to others you’ve taught or mentored in the past? Would you place this student in the top 5%? The top 1%? Does this undergrad perform at the level of a graduate student? Does this graduate student seem more like a junior faculty colleague?

  • Keep the end goal in mind.

    Nationally-competitive scholarships have specific aims. Some want to fund the next generation of promising scientists, others to support intercultural exchange or foster public service. Speak to how your student aligns with the scholarship’s stated aims and selection criteria.

  • Pay attention to bias.

    Most people are completely unaware of how biases impact their recommendation letters. But recent research exposes implicit biases in letters, especially gender bias and racial bias. Our colleagues at The University of Arizona have developed a quick reference to help you eliminate bias in recommendations.

Please note that you may not ask a student to draft the letter of recommendation for you. UAB is a member institution in the National Association of Fellowship Advisors, and our Code of Ethics explicitly states that applicants must “Neither compose their own letters for faculty to sign (even at the request of faculty) nor ask faculty members to show them their own letters of recommendation.

Finally, our office is available to review your letters and offer suggestions to strengthen them. For some competitions, we require that a copy of the letter be submitted to our office in advance of receiving an institutional endorsement. Feel free to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call us if you have any questions.

Serving on Nominating Committees

The fellowships office coordinates several faculty nominating committees. These committees are responsible for interviewing potential applicants and offering guidance on applications. If you are interested in serving on nominating committees for science, international study, humanities, or public service, please contact our office. Committee appointments are made through the Office of the Provost and are generally for two years with the option to renew.