Seventh Graduate from San José Gateway PhD Program Reveals New Facets of Decision-Making in Libraries


Dr. Maria Otero-Boisvert is looking forward to new opportunities now that she has graduated from the San José Gateway PhD program. “This fall semester I will finally realize my dream of teaching at the graduate level,” she stated.

Congratulations are due to Dr. Maria Otero-Boisvert, the seventh scholar to graduate from the San José Gateway PhD program, a research-focused doctoral program offered in a partnership between the San José State University (SJSU) School of Information and the Queensland University of Technology (QUT). Working with program supervisors Dr. Bill Fisher at SJSU and Dr. Helen Partridge and Dr. Christine Bruce at QUT, Otero-Boisvert applied ethnographic research techniques to an academic library context in order to better understand how social interactions and events influence budgeting decisions.

Fisher stated that supervising Otero-Boisvert was “a great experience” and noted the dedication she demonstrated to her unique project and research methodology. “Once she determined taking an ethnographic approach to her study would generate the results she was after, Maria delved into the methodological intricacies and embedded herself within her study organization for a full year to observe how budget decisions were made,” explained Fisher.

Otero-Boisvert’s project was able to bring together insights drawn from the field of social psychology and the study of library administration, something which had not been done before. She found that at the large public university where she did her field work, “an incremental budget allocation process based on small changes to a historically-based budget provided many opportunities for interpersonal negotiations and influence between the unit heads and the vice presidents.” It is expected that her work on decision-making will help inform and improve the practice of academic library administration.

Otero-Boisvert declared that although her dissertation, Funding the Academic Library: An Ethnographic Study, was “an enormous undertaking,” she “can’t say enough about what a tremendous experience the program was” for her. In particular, she really appreciated the support she received from her advisors and peers in the predominantly online San José Gateway PhD program. “My supervisors and my colleagues in the program critiqued my work, made valuable recommendations, challenged me, inspired me, and supported my efforts. Somehow, this international online community managed to coalesce into a solid support team,” she affirmed.

Students in the San José Gateway PhD program are mentored by expert faculty members in the field of information science from both SJSU and QUT, and they participate in monthly online seminars. The interactive seminars allow students to connect with other students in the international doctoral program, as well as with award-winning scholars, educators, and researchers.

Dr. Cheryl Stenstrom, assistant program coordinator, noted that the San José Gateway PhD program allowed Otero-Boisvert to draw on resources from all over the U.S. and beyond. “Dr. Otero-Boisvert’s work is focused on funding decisions in academic libraries,” explained Stenstrom. “The unique nature of the San José Gateway PhD program allowed her to collaborate with students from across North America, and her findings build on a growing body of research on library administration and leadership being developed by program alumni.”

Otero-Boisvert, who worked for more than 20 years as an academic librarian before beginning her doctoral work, is looking forward to the new opportunities opened to her by earning her doctorate. “This fall semester I will finally realize my dream of teaching at the graduate level,” she stated. “I have also started a consulting practice based in the Chicago area. I truly enjoy keeping one foot in the practice as I continue to develop my research interests.”

Otero-Boisvert is also anticipating new opportunities and new research avenues now that she has graduated from the San José Gateway PhD program. “A career can take many twists and turns along the way. I am open to all possibilities,” she declared. “That is what turns a lifelong career into an adventure.”

For more information about the San José Gateway PhD program and about current students and alumni of the program, visit the program web page.