Supervisor reference serves a purpose

Illustration by Bo Brown

Dear Benny,
Why does Penn recruitment policy require a finalist for a position to have a reference from a current supervisor? There are definitely supervisors out there who will hold a serious grudge when they find out a valued employee wants to leave and will provide a damaging reference. And if such a reference results in the candidate not being hired, the applicant’s relationship with the supervisor is effectively poisoned, is it not? This sounds like a liability for Penn in today’s litigious climate.
—Wants Answer from a Hire Authority

Dear Truth-Seeker,
Human Resources informs me that since current supervisors have the most up-to-date knowledge of an applicant’s work, best hiring practices stipulate that they should be the first source for references.

An applicant can also obtain references from previous supervisors, which may provide a more well-rounded picture of the applicant and balance any one negative reference. Hiring officers will take all supporting information into consideration along with the interview. Human Resources Policy 101, available on the Web at, has more information on hiring practices.

Supervisors also must act in a fair and professional manner with their employees. Most supervisors recognize staff members’ need for professional growth and development, which often takes the form of pursuing new jobs. Should problems arise, staff members and supervisors can contact Staff and Labor Relations at 215-898-6093 to discuss possible ways to resolve them.

Dear Benny,
How many statues of Benjamin Franklin are located on the Penn campus? I can think of three—in front of Franklin Field on 33rd Street, in front of College Hall and on the bench on 37th Street. Are there any others?
—Shy Inquirer

Dear Shy,
Jackie Jacovini, curator of the University art collection, says there are 11 Franklin sculptures on campus. The three you mention are the only outdoor ones; the rest are portrait busts and smaller full figures located in the Penn Bookstore and private offices on campus.

Originally published on January 16, 2003