Williams College Statement of Principles Regarding the Management of College Records

adopted Spring 2012

Recognizing the need to ensure the preservation and availability of its official records for legal, fiscal, administrative, and historical purposes, Williams College hereby adopts the following Statement of Principles regarding the collection and preservation of these vital papers, records and documents.

The Statement serves as an introduction to the larger records management program at Williams, which is described in more detail through the retention schedules and guidelines that pertain to the records created and maintained by the college's administrative offices, academic departments, committees, programs and other units of the college.  Such records retention schedules, developed in collaboration with the administrator or faculty member in charge of the unit, delineate what types of documents are maintained by the unit, the length of time they are to be retained in the office and, thereafter, whether they are deemed of permanent value or designated for destruction.  Records retention schedules are updated in compliance with state and federal laws, as new types of documents are created, and as administrative needs change.

Definition of College property
Official records created or received by the college and its employees in the course of their official duties are the property of the college.  Such records should be created, maintained, used, and disposed of in accordance with procedures and guidelines approved by the appropriate college authorities.  

Records schedules and guidelines apply to material produced or maintained by employees who are in charge of records pertaining to their official duties, in all areas and locations of the college, including members of the teaching faculty with non-teaching or administrative duties of either a continuous or occasional nature, such as acting as chairman of a department, a program or a college committee.

Schedules and guidelines do not apply to non-official records, such as personal correspondence, nor to professional materials produced by the teaching faculty except insofar as these documents may be entered into the official record.  

Definition of a record
Official records of the college consist of recorded information, created or received by college employees in the course of performing official functions on behalf of the institution, that is maintained to meet the fiscal, legal, historical, and administrative needs of the College.  Records include evidence of College organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, and internal or external transactions.  Records can be recorded in any physical form or medium, including hardcopy and electronic.  Not all records will be deemed of permanent value.

Creation and maintenance
Official records should be retained as long as required to meet legal, administrative, financial and operational requirements of the college.  The administrator or faculty member in charge of the unit where the records accumulate, in consultation with the Archives staff and in compliance with state and federal laws, is responsible for determining how long inactive records are to be retained in and under direct control of the unit prior to disposition (destruction or transfer to the Archives).  

Preservation and transfer
Material selected for preservation shall be sent to the College Archives in accordance with a records retention schedule developed by the Archives staff in consultation with the administrator or faculty member in charge of the unit where the records accumulate.  All official records that are permanently preserved must remain accessible to relevant employees.  

Destruction
Official records should not be discarded or destroyed except pursuant to the college records retention schedules.  All records approved for destruction should be disposed of in a manner that safeguards the confidentiality of the information they contain.  

Security and restrictions
It is the responsibility of the individual units to follow college policies, in effect from time to time, to ensure that appropriate security measures are observed for maintaining official records containing personal or other confidential information.  The College Archivist will consult with the administrator or faculty member in charge of the unit, and other appropriate employees, regarding any special conditions of access which may be placed on any category of records that are permanently preserved.

Litigation hold
When a lawsuit is filed or is reasonably anticipated, College Counsel will impose a "litigation hold" which will be communicated to all persons whom College Counsel has reason to believe may be in possession of potentially relevant documents.  The imposition of a "litigation hold" means that all retention periods are suspended for the applicable documents, and no such document shall be disposed of, destroyed or altered until notification from College Counsel that the litigation matter has been concluded.




Current Williams College Seal