Reaching Out to a Retired Professor for a LoR: How?

Gauss44

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My organic chemistry professor retired and no longer has an office at my old university. I tried searching his name online and he doesn't seem to be on LinkedIn or Facebook, and no word of his current location. Tried calling the Chemistry Dept., left voice message but no answer yet. Next step is to go in person and try to find someone in the dept. who might have an address or email I can write to.

My questions are:

1. Does this seem to be an appropriate method to you?
2. If I do get his address/email, I intend to send a quick note (asking to meet or chat regarding a potential LoR/why I would like him to be the author/oh, happy belated retirement,) potential problems or tip regarding that?
3. If NO ONE knows where he is, I guess I'm out of luck, or can you think of another way to appropriately track him down?
 

Goro

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Yes

1. Does this seem to be an appropriate method to you?

Yes

2. If I do get his address/email, I intend to send a quick note (asking to meet or chat regarding a potential LoR/why I would like him to be the author/oh, happy belated retirement,) potential problems or tip regarding that?


If you knew where the Professor got his degree, try Alumni organizations. Or pay for a public records search, and hope that he doesn't have a common name.
I suspect that this one you might have to take on the chin.

3. If NO ONE knows where he is, I guess I'm out of luck, or can you think of another way to appropriately track him down?[/QUOTE]
 

Spector1

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Is he professor emeritus status or is he completely gone from the university? if its the former, he may still show up around the university now and again.
 
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Gauss44

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Is he professor emeritus status or is he completely gone from the university? if its the former, he may still show up around the university now and again.
I am not sure. I am going to go to the department and ask about him.
 
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Gauss44

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Update: Professor transitioned to Emeritus Professor in 2009. Left university some time after 2009, probably in 2014. I contacted the Dept. of Chemistry and the person answering the phone said, "Well, we don't have his contact information and probably couldn't give it out anyway," as if it was no big deal, and by the tone of voice, like I was in some way out of line for asking. I think the receptionist was a non-science student who just doesn't understand. I asked if he knows of anyone who might have my professor's contact information, and the receptionist recommended my speaking with his boss, another administrator with no science background. I recommended that another science professor who may have done research with my professor might be a better bet, and the receptionist said, "Uh, no. You should start with (and gives his boss's name)." Looks, and sounds by the tone of voice, like they are ignorantly treating my inquiry as being inappropriate.

Advice is welcome.
 
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Doug Underhill

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Try contacting one of the professors they collaborated with on research. You can find this via their journal articles on PubMed.
 
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bearintraining

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Update: Professor transitioned to Emeritus Professor in 2009. Left university some time after 2009, probably in 2014. I contacted the Dept. of Chemistry and the person answering the phone said, "Well, we don't have his contact information and probably couldn't give it out anyway," as if it was no big deal, and by the tone of voice, like I was in some way out of line for asking. I think the receptionist was a non-science student who just doesn't understand. I asked if he knows of anyone who might have my professor's contact information, and the receptionist recommended my speaking with his boss, another administrator with no science background. I recommended that another science professor who may have done research with my professor might be a better bet, and the receptionist said, "Uh, no. You should start with (and gives his boss's name)." Looks, and sounds by the tone of voice, like they are ignorantly treating my inquiry as being inappropriate.

Advice is welcome.
Any chance you can contact an ex graduate student or PhD-level scientist that were in their lab at the same time? I'm assuming you did more than just take an O Chem class from them. If that's not the case, then you might be better off with a different referee anyhow.
 
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I had the same issue, I had talked to him about the LOR previously, but then he retired and I was unable to contact him again. I left a note in his mailbox at the department office which he still had and I inquired about it with the receptionist and she was very pleasant and I emailed her a couple time and she told me she would let me know when she had information. I am not sure if he eventually got my letter (7 months later) or she contacted him, but he contacted me and wrote me a LOR within 2 days at the end of July just in time. He told me that he wrote me a very strong letter. For another LOR writer, I had to drive to his house (and I had moved about 2 hours further away by this point) and hand deliver a pre-addressed envelope, and because he never answered his email or phone, I came unannounced. He was happy to see me and wrote the letter. So to answer your questions, I don't think it is either inappropriate nor is it futile to continue to try in this manner.
 
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