Cornell University Electronic Student Records Systems Project Report

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Preface and Acknowledgements

In the spring of 1998, the Cornell University Archives received a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) for an 18-month project to investigate the requirements for electronic administrative records. At the time of the submission of the grant application, the University had initiated a new endeavor, called Project 2000, to make essential changes in the way that Cornell operates. When the implementation of Project 2000 became a struggle, and the student system was postponed indefinitely, however, the project could not be completed as planned.

With only six months of funding remaining, we needed to redirect our efforts. After holding very helpful discussions with Mark Conrad from the NHPRC staff, we agreed that Cornell would restructure the project to focus on the specific goal of defining archival requirements for electronic student records systems (ESRS). Nancy McGovern, a highly qualified senior consultant who had done extensive work as an electronic records manager, was hired to compile a report. During the summer of 2000, she visited Cornell to interview relevant staff in the Cornell University Library, the University Archives, the Registrar’s Office, and Cornell Information Technologies.

Nancy McGovern did an outstanding job in a very short timeframe. Individuals who generously provided their time, expertise, and assistance to her included Christopher Cox, Joan Falkenberg Getman, Mike Garcia, Oliver Habicht, Graham Hall, Laurence ‘Mike’ Hammer, Caroline Hecht, H. Thomas Hickerson, Peter Hirtle, Eileen Keating, Anne R. Kenney, Sandy Payette, Lynne Personius, Barbara Skoblick, Tracey Thompson, and David Yeh.

The report is intended to provide generalizable recommendations, address records management and archival considerations, provide pros and cons for preservation options, and identify potential research issues for student records. By presenting the findings of the Cornell project, it was intended to serve as a base and provide a context for universities to consider their electronic student records systems and to establish an appropriate preservation strategy.

While it makes recommendations specific to Cornell, it should be helpful to all university archivists. It suggests specific strategies, but also recommends further individual and collaborative research projects. We hope that its wide distribution will serve to refocus energies locally and to assist other college and university archivists. I thank all of those who have contributed to its production.

Elaine D. Engst
Director & University Archivist
December 2000