A new online tool to help Penn State faculty and staff manage letters of recommendation for students, RecCenter, is now online and available to recommenders Universitywide.
“Many of us have multiple mentees requesting letters of recommendation for a variety of institutions,” said the tool’s co-creator and project lead, David Toews. “Often, our mentees are great at providing us with helpful to-do lists and gentle reminders of due dates. But when all of this is being organized in a busy email inbox, deadlines can get missed, and we really don’t want that — hence the inspiration to have a simple, functional tool that can help to manage letter-of-recommendation requests.”
Toews, an assistant professor of biology in the Penn State Eberly College of Science, created RecCenter with Mitzi Ellis, a programmer and analyst with the college’s information technology group, and Chris Palma, the college’s associate dean for undergraduate students.
“I had heard through the grapevine that there was an issue with some of our students having missing letters, in part possibly due to faculty misplacing information on those requests,” Toews said. “So I wanted to help find a solution, rather than just shrug it off. These letters are so important for our students.”
The RecCenter process, he explained, is initiated by the recommender, who invites the student to submit their request (including a required FERPA release) through the tool.
“It’s important to note that there are no letters of recommendation that move through this web portal,” Toews said. “It is a simple, interactive list to help manage requests.”
RecCenter includes a dashboard for organizing requests and tracking status, scheduling reminders, and sending both automated and personalized emails — all from a single location.
“We hope this tool will be an easy, functional, and accessible way to stay on top of letter-of-recommendation requests,” Toews said.
Penn State faculty and staff can sign up to use RecCenter at https://reccenter.science.psu.edu/.
Students are encouraged to contact potential recommenders to be invited to use the RecCenter tool.
Watch a brief introductory video featuring RecCenter co-creator David Toews.
David Toews, email@example.com