Iwasaki Library

Outline and Synopsis of the College Records Management

Records management is a globally recognized business practice that is performed by governments, institutions, and corporations. Establishing records management practices and standards helps Emerson College (the “College”) fulfill its mission and guide employees in the creation, use, and lifecycle management of institutional information and resources. The College records management program has five components.

They are:

  • The Records Management Policy - The Records Management Policy (the “Policy”) applies to all College departments, offices, and personnel responsible for creating, receiving, using, destroying, and/or preserving College records in any format. It is designed to aid the College in effective and efficient stewardship of its institutional records regardless of whether they are in a physical or electronic format.
  • The College Archives and Records Management Team - The Records Management Team (the "Team") consists of the Head of Archives & Special Collections, the Archives and Records Management Associate, and the Digital Archivist. The Team is responsible for clarifying and implementing official protocols for the handling of College records.  To contact the Team, please e-mail records_management@emerson.edu.
  • Departmental Records Officers (DROs) - The Departmental Records Officer (“DRO”) is a designated individual within a department who is primarily responsible for ensuring that the Policy and any departmental or office procedures concerning management of College records are observed. DRO’s are to serve as the intermediary between the Records Management team and the staff in their department. They are also tasked with the training and education of staff concerning the Policy and any departmental or office procedures for handling records.
  • Records Retention and Disposition Schedules - The Records Retention and Disposition Schedules (the “Schedules”) are the authoritative source of records created and used by Emerson College and their associated recordkeeping requirements. Recordkeeping requirements identified in the Schedules are based on either U.S. federal or state statutory, regulatory or other legal requirements as well as College operational needs. The Schedules define what records are being managed, how long and under what lifecycle controls records need to be retained.
  • Records Outreach and Training - The Records Management Team will provide ongoing outreach and training as needed for College personnel on proper records management practices.  Training is overseen by the Team with a primary focus on preparing DRO’s to assume their records management duties and ensuring that all employees are in compliance with policies, laws, and regulations.

The Records Management program is advised by the Records Committee.  This committee includes the Head of the Archives and Special Collections, the Executive Director of the Library, a representative  from the office of the President, the Vice President for Administration and Finance, the Vice President and General Counsel, the Vice President for Information and Technology, and a representative from any department whose interests will be affected by the Committee’s determinations.

The Records Management program is also supported by Information Technology services and personnel.  They are responsible for proactively working with the college community to develop and maintain policies and best practices for creating, storing, maintaining, securing and destroying electronic records.

Records Management and Format Types

Records management, as defined by the international standard ISO 15489, is "the field of management responsible for the efficient and systematic control of the creation, receipt, maintenance, use, and disposition of records, including the processes for capturing and maintaining evidence of and information about business activities and transactions in the form of records" (ISO 15489-1; 3.16).”  Records management principles are not format specific and encompass both electronic and physical records.

The primary difference between managing physical and electronic records is that there are media format specific handling procedures.  Otherwise, the following basic principles for creation, use, and storage of records apply to all College personnel:

  • Create, manage and store records that accurately document daily operations
  • Facilitate timely and accurate retrieval of records
  • Determine appropriate access authority and responsibility for employees in the creation and use of departmental records.
  • Ensure that records are stored in authorized, secure locations and in safe, stable environments.
    • Physical records should be kept in dry, clean areas that are protected from the elements and have appropriate temperature and humidity controls.
    • Electronic records should be stored on stable media, encrypted, and preserved in readable software formats.
  • Know and comply with Emerson College policies, external laws, regulations, standards, and professional ethics that affect the management of their records.
  • Determine the confidentiality and privacy status of all departmental records. A variety of internal policies, contractual commitments (such as confidentiality clauses), and external laws and regulations such as FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act), HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), and relevant data privacy statutes and regulations, may determine the confidentiality and privacy status of their records.
  • Incorporate departmental records creation activities and responsibilities into departmental policies and procedures and provide periodic training on good recordkeeping practices.

There are several types of College records, in the order of the records lifecycle: Active, Inactive, Permanent, and Archival. College records may also be considered Official or Duplicate, the latter of which should not be retained longer than the Official record.

Records may be found in, but not limited to, the following categories of records:

  • Documents: printed papers, computer-generated text and spreadsheets (i.e. Word, Excel, PDF), official presentations, official records such as student transcripts and financial reports, newsletters, official publications
  • Multimedia: printed photographs, scanned or imaged photographs (i.e. JPG, TIFF, PSD), other types of graphics, film, physical video, digital video (i.e. MOV, AVI, MPEG-4), audio, digital audio (i.e. WAV, MP3, AIFF)
  • Other: databases, websites, original software code

These records may be stored in, but not limited to, the following media formats:

  • Boxes
  • Filing cabinets
  • Reel-to-reel film
  • Media cassettes (i.e. VHS, Umatic, audio cassette)
  • Disks (i.e. floppy, CD, DVD)
  • Local hard drives (i.e. personal workstation, laptops)
  • External hard drives (i.e. flash drives)
  • College on-site and off-site server space (Cabinet)
  • Hand-held devices (i.e. smartphones, tablets)
  • Cloud-based storage (i.e. Google Docs, Dropbox)

Retention and disposition of records

In records management, retention is the process of safekeeping records for a specified amount of time in order to ensure that they can properly support business functions and legal/regulatory requirements. The rules regulating how long to keep records and other lifecycle actions, such as move to inactive storage or transfer to the Archives, are found in Records Retention and Disposition Schedules. The retention period is the mandatory period that records must be kept and/or disposed of by the College to conduct its business in a legal and fiscally responsible manner.

College Records that have met their authorized retention period and are not subject to any legal holds must be destroyed in a confidential manner. Departments and offices may only use the general trash or recycling to destroy records and documents that have a wide and open distribution at the time of their creation, such as publications. Any records that are Confidential, contain, PII, or are sensitive in nature must be shredded. For both the retention and disposition of records, an external vendor or service retained by the College can ensure that proper disposal procedures are followed and also reduce the fiscal costs of doing so.

Basic principles of retention and disposition include (but are not limited to):

  • Ensure that access to records and systems containing Personally Identifiable Information (PII) is restricted in accordance with the College’s Comprehensive Written Information Security Plan (WISP). Long term restrictions on access to selected Archival Records must be noted at the time of their transfer to the College Archives.
  • Destroy Inactive Records that have met their authorized retention period in accordance with the College WISP and Records Retention and Disposition Schedule.
  • Destroy Duplicate Records (including duplicate electronic records) once it is determined that such records are no longer necessary to fulfill the department’s or office’s mission. Duplicate copies cannot be kept longer than the Official copy.
  • Paper records must be redacted, burned, pulverized or shredded such that PII cannot be practicably read or reconstructed.
  • Ensure that all electronic PII cannot practicably be read or reconstructed.  Out of service devices should be sent to the Information Technology Helpdesk to be destroyed.

Records Management, Daily Operations and Strategic Goals

The strategic goals for the College as of the 2013-2014 fiscal year are:

  • Academic Excellence
  • Civic Engagement
  • Global Engagement
  • Innovation
  • Financial Strength

Some examples of how the management of physical and electronic records meet these goals are:

Type of activity Records that support activity
Retrieval of reports and future plans related to human, financial, and physical facilities Government & Community Relations Reports, As-built drawings, publications, Banner generated reports (i.e. FY end ledger), planning documents & blueprints for LA
Usage of statistics for trend analysis of enrollment, physical structures, and other development planning Enrollment stats, tuition/room/board, scholarships/awards, annual giving
Retrieval of course-related materials Syllabi, course catalogs, program planning, academic restructuring documents
Maintenance and retrieval of faculty records Faculty contracts, Academic Affairs department records
Maintenance and retrieval of student records Student records, student publications
Maintenance and retrieval of financial records Donor reports, General Ledger
Provide storage and access to records documenting significant historical events and interactions with the Boston community PR Clippings, Photographs, Community Service Reports, Photographs, Community Service Reports, electronic publications
Creation and dissemination of online course required by NEASC TBD
Maintain and provide access to the College’s core mission and other governance documents Board of Trustees minutes, Strategic Planning documents

Employee Duties and Expectations

All employees are responsible for following the principles described in this document when creating or maintaining records pertaining to their jobs. This includes maintenance of the following records:

Type of records Examples
Correspondence Memos, E-mails
Reports Timesheets, strategic plans, NEASC, Cleary Report, Annual Giving/Fundraising, Grants, Enrollment, Grades
Personnel Files Resumes, annual reviews, resumes, performance evaluations
Financial records Purchase orders, check requests, expense reports, budgets, ledgers
Planning documents (strategic, academic, departmental, construction, etc.) Program reviews, academic programs, architectural renderings, strategic plans, academic programs

DROs are also sent periodic updates which includes tips of the month for employees to follow. The DRO is responsible for disseminating this information to all staff within his/her department. The College Archivist should be consulted if there are questions about the proper creation, use, storage, retention, and/or disposal of records.

For specific questions, please contact the Records Management team.