Dear Trinity Family,
My name is Abra Schnur and I am the new University Archivist and Records Manager for Trinity University. Since starting in January, I have met with many departments to continue the development of Trinity’s recently established records management program. There are many, many people I have not yet interacted with, but I hope one day soon to meet with you in person.
We are certainly in uncharted territory with the effects that COVID-19 will have not only on Trinity University but also on higher education at large. I know the past few weeks have been a whirlwind of questions, discussion, and decisions for everyone.
Archivists are conditioned to look ahead and think about what and why something should be archived for historical purposes. I’m sure you will agree that our current crisis is worthy of being documented. A concerted effort is needed to ensure that our university archives will include an honest representation of the pandemic’s impact on the university and the people associated with Trinity – administration, faculty, staff, students, parents, alumni, and other stakeholders. Only a Trinity-wide effort can ensure the presence of a well-rounded COVID-19 collection for generations.
So how can you help? In short, document and save. Document and save communication that your office, department, group, committee, organization, and the like generate. Save correspondence, meeting minutes, and memoranda that show decisions you make and policies you develop. Save your own thoughts and musings about changes to teaching and your interaction with students and how you are working with your department to make sure that change occurs. Whether in academic departments, the housing office, financial aid, athletics, or others; how has your work and interaction with students changed? What are the implications in regards to planned gifts and development? How will this impact admissions? These are the questions we are asking now, and these are some of the questions administrators, faculty, students, and researchers of higher education will be asking in the future. By saving what we are doing now, the materials we assemble and archive will trigger insights unknown to us at present.
I believe we have the potential to be part of the conversation in regards to COVID-19 and liberal arts higher education in the future if we act now. Please be a part of this! While we continue to work and learn remotely, I encourage you to share your thoughts through this questionnaire. When we transition back to being on campus I will be calling on you to donate that saved documentation for our archives. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions and for tips and guidance on how to proceed. Thank you for your interest and action.
University Archivist and Records Manager