The University of Memphis

University Records Management Program


Issued: June 7, 2016
Responsible Official: Vice President for Business & Finance
Responsible Office: Vice President for Business & Finance

Policy Statement

Policy StatementThe University Records Management Program is established to facilitate the efficient management of the University of Memphis' records and to ensure availability and protection of vital information.  Prompt access to accurate information is necessary to accomplish the work of University offices. 

Records kept by employees of the University, unless clearly personal and outside the scope of employment, belong to the University and their destruction should take place only in compliance with established procedures; no records are to be destroyed or otherwise disposed of by University employees on their own initiative.

Individual department or activity managers are primarily responsible for the creation, maintenance, and transfer to storage of University records under their control. The University Standing Committee on Public Records shall monitor and provide guidance to the Records Management program.



 The Records Management Program guides the creation, maintenance, retrieval, and final disposition or preservation of records to:
  • assure compliance with Executive Order #45, Tennessee Code Annotated Section 10-7-301 et. seq. and federal and local statutory requirements
  • maintain consistency with Tennessee Board of Regents Guideline G-070 provide information required to achieve the University's mission and goals
  • protect vital records
  • retain and preserve historical documents
  • ensure that records are disposed of only in accordance with established procedures.


Public RecordsAll books, papers, electronic mail messages, maps, photographs, films, microfilm, imaged copies, electronic data processing output, sound recordings, or other material, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or received pursuant to law or ordinance or in connection with the transaction of official business by any governmental agency.   

Permanent RecordsRecords that are of continuing historical, legal, administrative and/or fiscal value to the administration of the University of Memphis. 

Permanent records will be retained by the office that originates the record(s). Care should be taken to ensure that only high quality inks and paper of permanent quality are used for records in this category.

Paper copies of records which reflect "Permanent" retention may be destroyed after verification of an archival quality microform or electronic format.


Litigation FilesThose records pertaining to any pending legal case, claim or action, or to any federal or state audit.  No litigation files shall be destroyed until such actions have been concluded.    

Vital recordsAny records containing information needed to establish or maintain continuity of operation in an office, department, or division of the University, to recreate the University's legal and fiscal records, or to preserve the rights of the University, its Board, Faculty, Staff, and/or Students in the event of a disaster.   

University Records OfficerThe Vice President for Business & Finance, the official designated by the Tennessee Board of Regents to administer the Records Management program at the University of Memphis   

Office of record

The primary custodian of the record and the office responsible for maintaining the official copy of the record.  See Retention & Disposition Schedule.    

Non-recordsThose records that do not document the activities of an agency.  They are excluded from the record retention and disposal requirements and include: extra copies of documents kept for convenience or reference; stock supplies of publications; extra copies of circulated materials where follow-up copies are kept for the record; reading files; follow-up correspondence copies; identical or carbon copies kept in the same file; draft copies or work copies of documents when the final version is complete; letters of transmittal which add nothing to the transmitted information; inter-office memoranda; short-hand notes, steno type tapes or sound recordings after they have been transcribed; internal housekeeping materials such as intra-office memos, routing slips, telephone call slips, and computer edit error listings after the corrections are made; library or museum material which is for reference or exhibit; and private materials neither made nor received by an institution or school staff member in connection with the transaction of official business.   

Records SeriesDocuments, files, folders, reports or other data sets arranged together as a unit because they relate to a particular subject or result from the same activity, and which are appraised as a unit for retention scheduling.    

Retention period

The length of time a record must be kept to satisfy federal and state laws, regulations, and guidelines.  If more than one retention period is designated for a particular record, the record should be kept for the longest period to ensure compliance with all laws and regulations.  See Retention & Disposition Schedule. In the absence of a specified retention time for a particular record, records generally should be kept for a period of 3 years.     

Records Disposition AuthorizationRequired before disposing of public records.  Prior approval of the University Records Officer must be obtained on the Records Disposal Request and Authorization form.    

Inactive recordsRecords which are no longer accessed as part of the day-to-day operations of the office but which have not yet reached age of disposition.   


Retention of University Records

The Records Retention & Disposition Schedule provides information regarding the length of time various types of records should be kept and the office of record.  Always consult the Records Retention & Disposition Schedule before destroying any University records.  Where a Records Disposition Authorization (RDA) Number is given, the record series has been scheduled by the State of Tennessee.  Otherwise, retention periods have been set by the University.     

Electronic Creation/Reproduction of RecordsUnless specified otherwise or required by law, records may be electronically created or reproduced and the paper copy destroyed upon verification of an archival quality reproduction.  The electronic record will then be retained for the balance of the indicated retention period.  Paper records that reflect 'permanent' retention may be destroyed after verification of an archival quality reproduction.

Departments may wish to scan active records to facilitate automated retrieval. Participants will be responsible for acquiring imaging equipment, training users, organizing material to be imaged and reviewing scanned documents for accuracy prior to disposing of hard copy.

Information Systems will assist participants in the design of a database and index to retrieve scanned material.   Contact the University Records Officer (email for further information.   

Protection of Vital RecordsVital records may be found on paper, magnetic tape, microfilm, electronic image or any other format used to store information. It is the responsibility of the office of record to ensure that all vital records are protected. This is usually achieved by storing a duplicate of the record in another location.  Retention periods for protection copies of vital records are the same as for the original record itself.  That is, if the vital record has a retention period of three years, then the protection copy should also be retained for three years.   

Physical Destruction or Other Disposition of University Records

Subject to statutory provisions and in compliance with the University Records Retention & Disposition Schedule, the University Records Officer may authorize the disposal of records.  Each department head or activity manager will determine records that are available for disposal at least annually.   The Records Disposal Request and Authorization form should be submitted prior to disposing of any University records. 

Duplicate copies of records retained for convenience only may be destroyed without regard to the Retention and Disposition Schedule when the need for the duplicate ceases to exist.

Records under subpoena or other pending court or administrative action may not be destroyed until the subject matter relative to the records is fully closed, including appeals and time frames for appeals or completion of audit.  Consult the Office of Legal Counsel before destroying such records.

Any University records of a confidential or sensitive nature must be destroyed in a manner that prohibits reconstruction of the information.  Several commercial shredding companies are willing to shred records on site and provide a certificate of destruction.  Details are available through Procurement Services. Also, a commercial shredder is available at the University Records Storage Center for use by departments wishing to destroy records.  Access to the shredder can be arranged by contacting the University Records Officer.


Use of University Records Storage Center, Bldg S47, South Campus

Subject to space availability, University departments may place inactive paper records in the University Records Storage Center.  Disposal dates should be clearly indicated on records transferred to the Records Storage Center - conditions at the Records Storage Center are not conducive to long-term retention of records.

All records received by the University Records Storage Center remain under the control of the department sending the records to the Center.  No other university department, personnel, or non-University person will be allowed to have access to a department's records without that department's express permission.  University, state and federal auditors will be allowed access to a department's fiscal records if needed.

Departments will be responsible for transporting their records to the Records Storage Center. Complete the Transmittal of Records to University Records Center form prior to transferring any records to the Center.  Follow instructions provided with the form, then contact the University Records Officer for access to the Records Storage Center.


Related Forms

Records Disposal Request and Authorization

Transmittal of Records to University Records Center


My file cabinets are overflowing and I'm ready to clean them out; what do I need to do?First, check the Records Retention & Disposition Schedule to determine how long records need to be kept; if ready for disposal, complete the Records Disposal Request form and send to the University Records Officer for approval.  Once approval has been given, dispose of records appropriately.  Sensitive records should be shredded.  If records have not reached disposal age but are no longer needed for day-to-day reference, inquire about use of the Records Storage Center on South Campus.   

Why do I need permission to destroy my own records?Our office records belong to the State of Tennessee.  Annually we must report to the Tennessee Board of Regents the volume of our record holdings, what has been destroyed, and what has been transferred to the Records Storage Center.  

How long should I keep e-mail messages?

E-mail messages, like paper records, must be retained or deleted according to established records management procedures.  Retention depends on content; for example, an e-mail which substitutes for a work order request should be retained for one year after work is completed since the Retention and Disposition Schedule for University Records specifies that Work Orders have a retention period of one year after work is completed. E-mail messages that meet the definition of a non-record (see definitions section) do not need to be retained for a specified time. It is the sender's responsibility to determine if the e-mail is a record and, if so, to retain that record.   

How do I transfer inactive records to the morgue?Contact the University Records Officer by email at determine space availability.  Check the Records Retention & Disposition Schedule for disposal date; box up records according to instructions, taking care to label with destruction date.  Complete a Transmittal of Records to University Records Center form in duplicate and bring a copy to the University Records Officer when checking out the building key.   

What is the morgue?This is the popular name for the Records Storage Center located in Building S47 on South Campus.  This facility is intended for temporary storage of inactive records that are no longer needed for reference in the office but have not reached the age of disposition.  Since there are no environmental controls at the morgue, and since its location makes retrieval of a file more time-consuming, active records and records of permanent value should not be stored there.  

I'd like to start scanning my records - what's the first step?Contact the University Records Officer for a referral to the Imaging Specialist in Information Systems.   

Whom do I contact with further questions?

Contact the Office of the Vice President for Business & Finance at or consult the University Records Management web page.   


Retention & Disposition Schedule

TBR Guideline G-070 - Disposal of Records

Revision Dates

  UM1365 -- June 7, 2016
UM1365 Rev.2 -- updated August 26, 2008
UM1365 Rev.1 -- updated May-22-2006
UM1365 - Issued: September 7, 2002 - supercedes policy number 2D:03:01

Subject Areas:

AcademicFinanceGeneralHuman ResourcesInformation TechnologyResearchStudent Affairs