Records Management and Retention

12220.1 General Policy and Procedure

Wright State University has adopted a records retention program consistent with the retention periods developed by the Inter-University Council of Ohio (IUC) and as published in IUC's "Records Retention Manual for Public Colleges and Universities in Ohio" 2009.  University offices should contact Special Collections and Archives (401 Dunbar Library/775-2092) to obtain a current records retention schedule or to revise an existing records retention schedule.  All university records retention schedules and related forms are also available on the University Libraries Records Management webpage.

12220.2 Definition and Examples of University Records

  1. Definition of university records

    In general, a university record is any recorded information, regardless of format, which serves to document the organization, functions, policies, decisions, or other activities of the university and its offices, faculty, staff, and students.

  2. Examples of university records

    1. Correspondence, reports, policy statements, and related items created or received by the university and/or its offices.
    2. Minutes of all university and departmental boards, committees, and other groups
    3. Lists of officers and offices of the university's units
    4. Publications or other reproduced items issued by the university and/or its offices.
    5. Films, audio and video recordings, or photographs of university faculty, staff, groups, or events
    6. Personnel records of faculty, staff, students, and alumni
    7. Administrative records such as requisitions, purchase orders, invoices, canceled checks, bank data, and ledgers or journals
  3. Examples of historical university records

    1. Historical records are institutional records that document the origin, development, and operation of university offices and relate the roles of faculty and staff and/or student organizations to the operational activities of the university or campus life.

    2. Examples of Historical Records:
      1. Meeting minutes of the Board of Trustees
      2. Administrative records of the President's Office
      3. Administrative records of the Provost's Office and the offices of the vice presidents
      4. Select administrative records of upper administrative level offices
      5. Meeting minutes, memoranda, and reports of administrative committees operating at or above the departmental level
      6. Meeting minutes, correspondence, and reports of the faculty and its committees and faculty governance records and the Faculty Senate and its committees
      7. Meeting minutes, correspondence, and subject files of the Office of Alumni Relations and the Alumni Association
      8. Administrative records of the Office of Student Affairs and student activities oriented offices
      9. Newsletters, booklets, catalogs, class schedules, yearbooks, alumni magazines, and other publications distributed on a university-wide basis
    3. Examples of records in the General Retention Schedule
      1. All blank forms and volumes which are outdated
      2. Shorthand notes or dictation recordings which have been transcribed into written or typed form
      3. Preliminary drafts or extra copies of correspondence, reports, and other records when an official copy has been retained
      4. Copies of published or processed items preserved for supply purposes or for office or personal use when an official copy is retained in Special Collections and Archives
      5. Machine readable and audio and video recordings which have been transcribed and are not of research value in themselves
      6. Documents, regardless of physical form or characteristics, which were purchased with personal funds or produced in a private capacity

University offices should consult the University General Retention Schedule (rev. 2008) for recommended retention periods.  The schedule may be obtained from Special Collections and Archives (401 Dunbar Library/775-2092) or on the University Libraries Records Management webpage.

12220.3 Determining Disposition of Records in the General Retention Schedule

Records listed in the University General Retention Schedule (rev. 2008) should be discarded according to the recommended retention periods.  When such records are disposed, preparation of a Certificate of Records Disposal form is not required.  If university faculty and staff have questions regarding the appraisal and disposition of records not listed in the General Retention Schedule, they should contact Special Collections and Archives.

12220.4 Destruction of Institutional Records

Records listed in departmental records retention schedules may be destroyed only after the expiration of the assigned period of retention and completion of a Certificate of Records Disposal form.  Forms may be obtained from Special Collections and Archives.  No university records can be destroyed except upon the prior written approval by the head, Special Collections and Archives (401 Dunbar Library/775-2092) or on the University Libraries Records Management webpage.   No university records listed on departmental records retention schedules may be destroyed without the prior written approval, via the Certificate of Records Disposal, of the University Records Manager and/or the head of, Special Collections and Archives, who oversees the records management program.  This is to ensure that no official university records are disposed of prematurely or in violation of existing laws or statutes. University faculty and staff should contact Special Collections and Archives to determine the appropriate destruction methods for institutional records.

12220.5 Transferring Historical Records to Archives

University faculty and staff should transfer historical institutional records to university archives according to the records retention schedules of their offices.  Faculty and staff should contact Special Collections and Archives for assistance with records transfer procedures.

12220.6 Records Retention Policy for Faculty and Staff Separating from the University

Faculty and staff separating from the university shall leave all university records or notify the head of Special Collections and Archives or the university records manager, who shall determine the disposition of the records.

12220.7 Vital Records Protection

  • Vital records are those records that are essential to the daily business of the university without which the institution and/or its individual units could not effectively function.

  • Vital records document the legal status, assets/liabilities, and operations of the university and if necessary can be used to re-establish the organization's ability to conduct business in case of disaster or other disruption of normal activities.

  • Examples of vital records include:

    1. Accounts payable/receivable (current)
    2. Accreditation files
    3. Business continuity/disaster recovery plans
    4. Contracts
    5. Course catalogs
    6. Deeds
    7. Financial aid records
    8. Institutional data
    9. Insurance policies
    10. Maps/blueprints
    11. Personnel files (active)
    12. Retiree benefit records
    13. Student transcripts
    14. Tax records
  • It is essential that each office identify those records in their care, both paper and electronic, which they cannot operate without and to establish protective measures to ensure the survival of the information contained in these records for as long as they are needed.

  • The best means by which to protect vital records is through duplication and dispersal.  Once an office has identified the vital records in their care, they must ensure that all electronic files are backed up electronically on networked servers.  Additionally, and specifically for hard copy files or when network storage is not possible, offices are encouraged to create duplicate copies (e.g. photocopies, computer back-up tapes, CDs, DVDs, microfilm) of their vital records and store them offsite or at an alternate location from the originals.

  • All vital records, both orginals and security back-ups must be stored in a secure environment and provided ample security, (e.g. fireproof cabinets, lockable cabinets, never store in unsupervised areas).

12220.8 Managing Electronic Records

A.  Usage

University offices are encouraged, when possible and appropriate, to use all available electronic tecnologies that increase efficiency, reduce expenses, or otherwise improve the methods by which university records are created, processed, retrieved, or retained.

B.  Reliability of Recordkeeping Systems

Electronic records shall be maintained in reliable recordkeeping systems.  Recordkeeping systems must meet legal requirements, national and international standards, and best practices for recordkeeping in an electronic environment.  Electronic recordkeeping systems shall have written policies, assigned responsibilities, and formal methodologies that fully and accurately document the overall management of the system.  Further, electronic recordkeeping systems shall include adequate system controls such as audit trails, the routine testing of software and hardware, and procedures for measuring the accuracy of data input and output.

C.  Retention

All university records, including electronic records, shall be retained or disposed of in accordance with approved records retention policies as described in university records retention schedules.  All electronic recordkeeping systems must be capable of deleting records in order to be in compliance with established records retention policies.

D.  Preservation

Electronic records shall be preserved without loss of any vital information for as long as required by law, policy, or best practice.  Future usability of electronic records shall be ensured through the development of migration or conversion plans designed to update hardware, software, or storage media.  Both the content of the record as well as the associated metadata, which provided the context and structure of the record, must be preserved.

E.  Retrievability

Electronic records shall be accessible and retrievable in a timely manner throughout their retention period.  They shall be easily accessible in the normal course of business in a usuable format, and shall be searchable and retrievable for reference and secondary purposes such as audits, legal proceedings, and historical research.

F.  Security

University officies shall take measures to prevent unauthorized access to private and confidential electronic records by identifying records that are subject to legislative, regulatory, and instiutional policy restrictions.  Further, university offices shall define the rules governing access to private and confidential records within the context of state open records laws and federal FOIA requirements.

G.  E-Mail

Electronic mail is to be managed like any other university document and based on the content of the message.  If the message meets the criteria of a type of university record as defined in university retention schedules, (e.g. academic program record, financial record, administrative record, personnel record, legal record etc.).  It shall be retained as per the retention policy described in the records retention schedule.  Please refer to the University Libraries Records Management webpage or contact Special Collections and Archives for copies of university records retention schedules.

H.  Scanning

Document imaging is the conversion of paper-based documents to digital images, making them readily accessible electronically and thereby enhancing the business processes and workflows of university offices.  Once imaged, the original paper records may be destroyed only after measures have been taken to ensure the digital images are protected and accessible for the time period stipulated in the records retention schedule, as required by state law.  Of particular concern are imaged records that need to be retained for a long period of time, i.e. 10 years or longer, as digital images present significant preservation challenges over the long term and must be managed accordingly to very specific procedures. For any office where scanned images are to be considered as official records, no original paper records may be disposed of until a 100% quality check of each scanned document is completed to verify document authenticity and completeness.  University offices interested in pursuing digital imaging projects are to do so in close consultation with CaTS and in accordance with established State of Ohio Digital Image Guidelines to ensure the information remains available for the legally required retention period. More information on specific prodecures and legal guidelines for document imaging best practices can be found at:

12220.9 Legal Holds

A legal hold suspends all document destruction and supersedes all records retention policies.  A legal hold shall come into effect for any records directly or indirectly pertinent to pending legal action, or where there is a reasonable expectation that litigation may occur.  Records that have been placed under a legal hold must not be removed, destroyed, or modified in any manner until the issue is adequately resolved.

12220.10 Services of Special Collections and Archives

Special Collections and Archives shall assist all university offices with the following functions:

  1. Appraisal and inventory of university records
  2. Design and implementation of records retention and disposition schedules
  3. Annual office retention schedule review
  4. Transfer to archives
  5. Records destruction methods
  6. Conversion to microfilm
  7. Vital records identification
  8. Paper document filing systems
  9. C files management
  10. Inactive records storage solutions
  11. Electronic document management solutions

Special Collections and Archives will provide the following services:

  1. Physical facilities for housing and servicing historical university records selected for permanent retention.  University offices should regularly transfer historical records to university archives according to the retention periods assigned in the records retention schedules of their offices.
  2. Copies of archival items (at cost), including photographs, except when university regulations prohibit their reproduction.
  3. Reference service for information regarding the university's historical institutional records.  This service is available to university administrators, faculty, staff, and students and other qualified researchers, subject to restrictions placed on the use of the records by the university.
  4. Selection, preservation, and research use of historical university records as outlined in section 12220.2 c).