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JSTOR was made available to the Xavier community in spring 1998, thanks in large part to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Southern Education Foundation's Gateway 21 Project. (The Gateway 21 Project began in 1997, and was designed to improve technology access and use at 22 black colleges and universities.) Xavier and other historically black colleges and universities were invited by the Southern Education Foundation to submit proposals for access to JSTOR and improvements to campus information technology infrastructure (e.g., networking, computers). Xavier's proposal was funded.

In January 1999, Xavier received a letter from a senior advisor to the Mellon Foundation in which it was noted "...there has been very limited contact ... with the JSTOR database by faculty, staff, and students at HBCUs." The letter also included a copy of a January 10, 1999, article from The New York Times which described some very creative and scholarly uses of the database. The senior advisor inquired about " ... (our)... opinion on the frequency (of) JSTOR use at Xavier University of Louisiana and the degree to which (we) think continued access to it is important." The letter was copied to the university president.

Well, you can imagine how a letter like this gets people's attention. Here we were staring the proverbial gift horse in the mouth.

In February, the Center for the Advancement of Teaching initiated discussion with the University Library Committee (with a membership of elected faculty), other Library faculty, and staff and faculty of the Center. The discussion focused on ways to encourage and support faculty and student use of the JSTOR database.

The result of these discussions was what we called the "JSTOR Project" (admittedly, not very flashy!).

Following an informational meeting for all faculty members to learn more about JSTOR and to discuss project ideas, the Center issued a request for proposals (RFP). The RFP was also extended to the teachers of our three partner schools in the New Orleans public school system.

Faculty members of the University Teaching, Learning, and Technology Roundtable reviewed the proposals. Each of the seven proposals submitted was evaluated independently by three faculty members. The evaluation form [PDF, 16 Kb] is online.