Dr. Okumoto Completes PhD through Gateway Program


Last fall, Dr. Richard Okumoto’s dissertation was conferred by Queensland University of Technology, the former partner of the San José State University School of Information’s Gateway PhD program. Okumoto is the 19th doctoral student to complete the program through the QUT partnership, which spanned 2008 through 2021.  

Dr. Kristen Rebmann was Okumoto’s supervisor from San José State University and said she “couldn’t be happier or more proud” and that it was a “privilege” to work with him on his big achievement. She also acknowledged the Gateway PhD program’s community of students and faculty thanking “Dr. Jason Watson, Dr. Kate Davis, Dr. Sylvia Edwards, and Dr. Christine Bruce for their leadership and support of this project.”

Prior to entering the Gateway PhD program, Okumoto earned his MA in Communication and Leadership from Gonzaga University and his BS in Business Administration from San José State University. Before joining San José State University’s faculty, he worked in Silicon Valley for over 30 years. He is currently a lecturer for the SJSU Lucas Graduate School of Business.

His dissertation, titled Digital Stories Promoting Scalable Social Presence: A Qualitative Case Study of an Undergraduate Distance Learning Environment, discusses how to promote social presence in a distance learning environment. This is relevant more than ever as Okumoto stated in his dissertation that “Covid-19 and other potential future contagions or conditions warranting limited physical contact or complete contactless environments elevate the importance of this study.”

The Gateway PhD program is currently being offered in a partnership between the SJSU School of Information and Manchester Metropolitan University. Students can earn a Doctorate of Philosophy degree in Library and Information Management from Manchester Met without having to relocate to England. The PhD program is expected to last six years and allow flexibility for students to complete their doctorate on a schedule that works for them.