Records Management Program Procedures
8 External records requests
Generally, external access to university records is defined as access granted by the university to an external party to review these records. This includes public access to the open records of the university, but also encompasses subpoenas or other legal discovery orders, external auditor requests, requests from law enforcement agencies conducting investigations, or media requests.
University units and personnel should exercise the utmost prudence and discretion with all external records requests, especially from unknown parties. Whenever any doubt exists regarding the validity or applicability of a claim to request access to university records, the Office of General Counsel or UARM should be consulted.
Federal and state laws concerning the freedom of information structure the degree of access that the general public has to university records, either upon demand or through a FOIA request. For specific guidance on the applicability and details of FOIA legislation, contact the Office of General Counsel.
The following rubric provides a sense of which university records are considered public or confidential:
|Type of record||Public access|
|Active university records||Considered confidential information; no public access unless granted through successful FOIA request or permission extended by university administration|
|Inactive university records||Considered confidential information; no public access unless granted through successful FOIA request or permission extended by university administration; sealed by UARM for 25 years prior to incorporation into collections of historical records|
|Historical university records||Open to the public with exceptions for health information or temporary donor restrictions|
|Employment records||Considered confidential information; no public access unless granted through successful FOIA request or permission extended by university administration; if transferred to UARM for historical purposes, sealed for 50 years from separation of the employee or the death of the records’ subject, whichever period of time is known to be longer|
|Health records||Considered confidential information; no public access unless permission extended by university administration; sealed permanently by UARM within historical records|
|Academic records||Considered confidential information; no public access unless permission extended by the records’ subject; if transferred to UARM for historical purposes, sealed for 75 years form the student’s separation from the university of the death of the records’ subject, whichever period of time is known to be longer; pertains only to individual student educational records, not to records of student activity groups and organizations, which are open to public access when they become historical records|
|Records of the Board of Trustees||Records of the meetings of the full Board of Trustees are open to the public without restriction; all other records considered confidential information, with no public access unless permission extended by university administration|
|Records created for the purpose of public distribution, such as course catalogs, newspapers, web content, etc.||Open to the public without restriction|
Further exceptions may exist that are not reflected on this chart. UARM cannot anticipate every specific type of situation governing public access to university records, so questions should be referred to the Office of General Counsel.
In most cases, requests for confidential university records must be routed immediately through the Office of General Counsel. The following rubric provides a sense of how different types of requests for public and confidential information should be routed:
|Type of records request||Unit to which request should be routed|
|FOIA requests||Office of General Counsel|
|Subpoenas||Office of General Counsel|
|External auditor requests||Office of General Counsel or Research Office|
|Law enforcement requests||Office of General Counsel|
|Media requests||Office of Communications and Marketing|
|All other requests||UARM, which will refer as appropriate|
As should be clear, most formal or legal requests for university records should be routed through the Office of General Counsel.
Generally, it is the responsibility of the custodial unit to conduct any sort of work of reproduction of university records necessary to satisfy an approved external request. This is applicable regardless of whether the format of the supplied records is physical or electronic. With regard to supplying electronic records for an approved external request, contact Information Technologies with any technical questions.
In most cases, issues of copyright should not be a concern in reproducing records to satisfy external requests. The one major exception to this is reproduction of student work such as theses and dissertations. For assistance with these materials, contact UARM staff.