In recent years over a dozen open source software (OSS) projects have been launched among higher education institutions with the aim of meeting the community's needs more effectively and at less cost than do commercial options presently available. There is, however, a concern in the community that its adoption is hindered by uncertainty about future support for and improvements in the software. The creation of a new organization, which we refer to with generic term "OOSS" (Organization for Open Source Software), has been proposed to address this need. This concept has received significant interest from the community and from a group of senior college and university administrators. There is a desire for further exploration of the need for such an organization and for a clearer definition of what its mission and areas of activity would be.
Paul Courant, Professor of Economics and former Provost at the University of Michigan, has agreed to lead a study in collaboration with Ithaka. Michael Carter, a consultant with decades of experience in academic computing and instructional technologies with major universities and leading companies in the technology sector, is also assisting in this effort. The goal of the OOSS study is to evaluate the landscape and market environment for open source software (OSS) created by and for the higher education community, to assess the need for an organization to promote the support and adoption of these OSS projects, and to define this organization's mission and service model, should we determine that such an organization is desirable.