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University Archives: UNC Asheville Records Retention Policy

A guide to University Archives in Ramsey Library, including historic University Archives and current records and retention policies.

Records Retention Policy


(Policy from the UNC Asheville General Counsel's webpage)

Policy Number: 5

  • Approval Authority: Chancellor
  • Policy Type: University Policy
  • Policy Owner: Chancellor's Office
  • Responsible Office: General Counsel - 828.250.3835

Revision History

  • Origination Date: July 1, 1977
  • Last Amended: November 17, 2011
  • Approval Date: November 17, 2011
  • Next Review: November 17, 2014

I. Purpose

State law requires agencies to retain Public Records and prohibits their destruction except in accordance with the guidelines established by the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. This policy affirms UNC Asheville’s commitment to comply with North Carolina records retention laws and guidelines while promulgating those guidelines and procedures to the University community.

II. Scope

This regulation applies to all UNC Asheville employees and covers all records, regardless of form, made or received, in connection with the transaction of University business.

III. Definitions

A. “Historical Value” means records that have administrative, legal, fiscal or evidential importance as well as documenting significant events, actions, decision, conditions, relationships and similar developments.

B. “Public Record" means all documents, papers, letters, maps, books, photographs, films, sound recordings, electronic data-processing records such as E-mails and other electronic documents, magnetic or other tapes, artifacts or other documentary material, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or received pursuant to law or ordinance in connection with the transaction of public business by any agency of North Carolina government or its subdivisions.

C. “Public Record with Short-Term Value” means those records possessing only brief administrative, fiscal, legal, research, or reference value. This category of record includes, but is not limited to, the following: reservations, routing slips, facsimile cover sheets, and those records that do not contain information necessary to conduct official business, meet statutory obligations, carry out administrative functions, or meet organizational objectives.

D. “University Personnel" means all UNC Asheville employees whether permanent, temporary, full-time or part-time, faculty, staff, administrators, student employees and agents of UNC Asheville (including volunteers but not including independent contractors) to the extent they are acting within the scope of their agency authority.

E. “Unscheduled Record” means any record not listed in a retention and disposition schedule or department specific schedule approved by the Chancellor, University General Counsel, Records Retention Officer and Department of Cultural Resources.

F. “Document Hold” (also known as “legal hold” or “litigation hold”) means that records that are the subject of the Document Hold must be preserved and may not be destroyed, even if otherwise permitted under the University’s retention and disposition schedule until officially released from the Document Hold by the University General Counsel.

G. “Affected University Personnel” means all University Personnel who are in possession or control of University records that are the subject of a Document Hold.

H. “Evidence” includes all records, whether in electronic or paper form, created, received, or maintained in the transaction of University business, whether conducted remotely or on campus. Evidence may include, but is not limited to, paper records and electronic records stored on hard drives of University work station desktops, laptops, personal computers, flash drives, CD-ROMs, memory sticks, tapes, zip disks, diskettes, PDAs or other mobile devices, regardless of location.

I. “Electronic records” include all forms of electronic communications, including, but not limited to, email, word processing documents, calendars, spreadsheets, voice messages, videos, photographs, text messages, or information stored in PDAs or other mobile devices.

IV. Policy

A. Retention Schedules

  1. The Department of Cultural Resources has a approved a University of NC General Records Retention and Disposition Schedule (“University General Schedule”) that governs the destruction or other disposition of University records.
  2. The University General Schedule may be supplemented by UNC Asheville on an as needed schedule approved by the Department of Cultural Resources pursuant to the procedures outlined below.

B. Policy

The University of NC General Schedule and any approved supplemental UNC Asheville Department Specific Addenda govern the retention and disposition of all UNC Asheville records.

C. Public Records Destruction

  1. Public Records may be destroyed only when they have met their retention requirements under the approved schedule.
  2. Public Records with short-term value may be destroyed when their reference value ends.
  3. Document Holds-University General Counsel may issue a document hold for any records subject to a pending FERPA request, audit or official investigative proceeding, or that relate to pending or probable litigation. Persons or departments in charge of documents subject to a hold must retain the documents until the University General Counsel provides written permission to destroy the records. Document Holds are more fully defined in Section IV. D.

D. Document Holds

1. Authority. The University General Counsel is the only unit with authority to place a Document Hold.

2. Procedures

a. A Document Hold will be initiated when either (a) an official discovery order is served on the University requesting the production of the records in question, or (b) litigation is pending or reasonably anticipated in the judgment of the University General Counsel. Any University personnel who become aware of any University-related litigation, threat of litigation, claim, administrative action or other legal action must immediately notify the University General Counsel.

b. The University General Counsel will notify Affected University Personnel that a Document Hold has been initiated. The notice will inform Affected University Personnel of their obligation to identify and preserve all Evidence that may be relevant to the Document Hold.

c. Upon notice of a Document Hold, Affected University Personnel are required to do the following:

i. Immediately suspend deletion, alteration, overriding, or any other destruction of records, including electronic records, under their control that are relevant to the Document Hold. Electronic records must be preserved in a way that they can be retrieved at a later time, and the records must be preserved in their original electronic form. It is not sufficient to make a hard copy.
ii. Preserve any electronic records that are generated or received after receipt of the Document Hold notice if such information is relevant to the subject of the notice.
iii. Preserve hard copies of documents under their control. Affected University Personnel must identify all relevant hard copy documents or files and ensure the retention of such. Affected University Personnel may make hard copies of electronically stored information; however, as set forth in item C (1) above, the information must also be preserved in its original electronic form.

d. Affected University Personnel must acknowledge receipt, understanding, and compliance with a Document Hold in a timely manner by email or written memorandum to the University General Counsel.

e. The University General Counsel will notify ITS of a Document Hold and provide the relevant information.

f. If Affected University Personnel separate from employment during the course of a Document Hold, department heads, unit directors, or another appropriate administrator must take possession of any and all evidence under the control of the separated personnel and notify the University General Counsel.

g. Once notice of a Document Hold has been issued, the University General Counsel will continue to monitor compliance with this policy and any notices required, including the notice that the need for a Document Hold has expired.

E. Unit & Individual University Personnel Responsibilities

1. Unit Record Retention Management

a. University department heads and directors are responsible for establishing appropriate record retention practices that are consistent with this policy and the University General Schedule and any approved Department Specific Addenda.

b. Each department heads, unit directors, or another appropriate administrator will ensure:

i. That unit records are retained and disposed of in accordance with the University General Schedule and any approved Department Specific Addenda.
ii. That access to confidential University records and information is restricted to appropriate personnel with a need to know.
iii. That records with historical value are delivered to the University Special Collections and Archives.
iv. That accurate records of destruction or transfer are maintained.

2. University Personnel Termination

When University staff terminate it is the responsibility of the relevant department head or director to ensure that records under the responsibility of that person are retained or disposed of in compliance with this Policy.

F. Violations

Violations of this policy are subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal. It is also a criminal misdemeanor violation under North Carolina law to destroy public records except as authorized.

Reference Materials

University General Schedule

Head of Special Collections & University Archivist

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Gene Hyde
Special Collections, Ramsey Library
(828) 251-6645