RMS Section Meeting Teaser #5

Our next teaser is from panelist Eric Stoykovich of Trinity College!

Reminder: our section meeting is free and it is set for Monday, July 27th at 3pm ET.

Are Records Essential to Governance of Higher Education during a Crisis?

Colleges and universities often face existential threats or once-in-a-lifetime crises which require quick or possibly unilateral actions on the part of administrators. At such times of exigency, consultation or consent of faculty, staff, alumni, or parents may be difficult or impossible. Administrators may also wish to innovate in ways which reflect well on the independent traditions of their schools, when the more prudent response may be collaborative or imitative.

During such crises, the continued management and access to college and university records ought to be viewed as a stabilizing force, reaffirming the variety of roles which administrators and faculty have played in the past during previous upheavals on campus. For example, at Trinity College (Hartford, CT), many professors taught outside their fields of training during World War II, when 1/3 of the faculty had left for war work.

In 2020, maintaining present college records is challenged on two fronts. Not only are records creators and archives’ staff restricted from access to physical records, but most staff and faculty working remotely and often creating and storing “institutional records” on dispersed servers, such as personal computers, and in new electronic formats, including Zoom meetings. The college or university staff responsible for records and archives management will need to confront both of these challenges now and in the coming months. Communicating the value of transferring all college-related work products, especially those normally maintained as part of a records retention schedule, to institutionally-maintained servers or cloud storage on a regular basis could be an important first step in this process of making the best of the situation of near universal remote work in higher education settings.

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