The Good and the Bad….Where’s the Ugly?

This week’s news brought two interesting stories of how two different types of university records can have  dramatically different impacts on a university.

Ever think about all those records we have to keep in order to account for all the money we get from various donors?  I’m sure that our Advancement department does.   And I’m sure they would love to be offered $30 million dollars!  Well, that’s exactly what happened at New York University except that they claim they decided to turn it down.  Yet, what this story brought to light was a lack of original documentation and reports filed by various New York universities regarding donations from foreign donors.    Is this a lack of proper retention on the part of the universities or on the part of the New York State Education Department’s Office of Higher Education?  Regardless of who is the responsible department for these records, it’s obvious that they should have been kept, organized, and made more accessible.  And, hey, that’s what records management helps you do!

On a more positive note, the blog of the Special Collections and Archives at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut highlighted an interesting piece of their collection recently: the Young Men’s Republican Club of Wesleyan Club Constitution and Meeting Minutes from 1856!  The post’s author writes about how the current students can benefit from how students of the past approached politics and elections.  It’s a fascinating bit of history with current applications that no one would have ever known about if these records had not been placed in the university’s archives.    Currently DePaul’s Records Retention Schedule indicates that meeting minutes from the Student Government Association (Record Group 1.8) as well as student organization materials (Record Group 11.20) should be transferred to the University Archives.  If you’re involved with student organizations in any way, keep those Records Groups as well as the Archives in mind as your group creates minutes, advertisements, photographs, or any other record of its activities.  Maybe in another 150+ years someone else will use them to draw parallels between current students and students of the past.


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