Access to electronic content of deceased or incapacitated students, employees, and retirees

Information Technology periodically receives requests to grant parents, legal representatives, partners/spouses, or children access to stored electronic files of a deceased or incapacitated student, employee, or retiree. In such cases, the information sought is personal information that rightfully belongs to the individual and is essential to fulfill the responsibilities now assumed by the requestor, not College proprietary or “work-product” information.  IT respects and upholds its commitment to privacy of individual information and protection of College information in its responding to such requests.

For Students

Upon receipt of notification from the Dean of Students’ Office, IT will download email and OneDrive (or equivalent personal folder files stored on College systems) to a USB or equivalent storage device and provide the storage device to the Dean of Students’ Office for delivery to the parent or legal representative. Parents or legal representatives should contact the Dean of Students Office and provide appropriate documentation, such as a death certificate, statement of judgment of incapacity and appointment of guardianship of the person, or executor’s certificate.

For employees

IT deactivates user accounts of deceased or incapacitated employees upon notification by Human Resources.

Depending on the employee’s role and responsibilities at the College, access to email and OneDrive content may be provided to the individual’s supervisor to facilitate completion and transfer of work responsibilities within the department.  As the College strongly discourages use of College email and OneDrive accounts for personal use, IT will not download email or OneDrive files to be provided to a partner/spouse, legal representative, or child.  Should one believe there is critically important personal information in the employee’s email or OneDrive, a specific request describing the information should be provided to Human Resources.  Human Resources will review and forward the request to IT, which will search email or OneDrive files based on the description provided.  If specific emails and files are found, IT will download only the items found to a USB or equivalent storage device. IT will provide the storage device to Human Resources for delivery to the spouse/partner or legal representative.

For retirees

IT deactivates user accounts of deceased retirees upon notification by Human Resources. IT deletes all electronic content (e.g., email, OneDrive files) 30 days after account deactivation.

The College recognizes that for some of our retirees, our retirees’ Wooster.edu email account was the only email account available to them, and in many cases, while not in accord with the College’s current policies, these original email accounts served multiple purposes – both personal and professional.  In some cases, one’s Wooster.edu email account was the “all purpose” email and remained such long after retirement.

In such cases, the spouse or partner of a deceased retiree may request continuation of the retiree’s email account by contacting IT. IT will transition the email account (retaining the well-established email address and email) as an “affiliate” account.   

Surviving spouses or partners are encouraged to consult with IT staff about best practices to save and archive important information that is currently retained only in the email account.

IT will provide a deceased retiree’s email messages and, if applicable, OneDrive files, on a USB drive to a partner/spouse upon request.

Practice documented: 09-2021
Reviews & updates: 07-07-22