Okay, we're still going on this question of what it's reasonable to ask people to talk about in their cover letters. In comments, Inside the Philosophy Factory says, "when an adverstisment asks for an explanation of experince teaching and experience with diversity, the letter should cover that."
Putting aside issues of mission statements and department character and all that crap, this is something else I just don't get. I have a teaching portfolio--one I put a fuck of a lot of effort into--that says pretty much everything I can think of saying about my teaching experience, abilities and interests. It's got my teaching philosophy, descriptions of the courses I've taught and some of the courses I want to teach, a few student comments on my courses and abilities, and (I think) a very readable chart summarizing all my student evals. What else can I put in the letter? What else is there to say?
So a department asking me to talk about my teaching in my letter is going to have a choice to make when they get my application. They can get what they're looking for out of my teaching portfolio. Or, like the departments A Guy on Hiring Committees was talking about, they can toss my application because it has a generic cover letter that doesn't fit their exact specifications. If they think a good way to gauge candidates' interest is by insisting they jump through exactly the hoops they say, it's probably not a place I want to work anyway. I eat enough of that shit as a grad student.
ItPF, am I out of line here?