Taking over a position mid-semester is no easy task, but Graduate Student Trustee Justin Fang is looking to meet, even exceed, the requirements of the job.
“It is an exciting time to be at UConn, due to the transition of top leadership,” Fang said. “Due to my position as GSS president from 2018-2019, I had the opportunity to observe and learn institutional knowledge about UConn from various figures in President [Susan] Herbst’s administration, while refining my own understanding of the mechanisms that allow UConn to function smoothly.”
Fang, a doctoral student in biomedical engineering, was formerly the Graduate Student Senate’s president, before making a run at the trustee job last spring. He’s taking over for Samuel Surowitz, who was appointed in spring 2017 but could only serve one year on the Board. Surowitz graduated and took a job elsewhere, leaving the spot open.
“I wanted to run for the rest of Sam’s remaining one-year appointment, in order to see through the projects and initiatives that we had started together,” Fang said.
Fang is planning to use his experience as GSS president and his familiarity with the process to both ease the transition between former President Herbst’s and President Thomas Katsouleas’ administration and target a range of issues facing graduate students.
“Now, with the new top leadership settling into their roles, I hope to be a source of institutional knowledge on previous best practices and to provide feedback wherever possible, while still representing graduate student interests,” Fang said.
Fang has made a number of issues a priority. Namely, Fang is targeting visa obtainment, for a school made up of 29% international students, according to UConn’s website. He is also looking to increase funding for graduate students, to better fund research and support infrastructure such as CSD and CETL.
Fang has a history in educational government. Aside from being the GSS president, Fang also served as the GSS treasurer for the 2017-2018 year. He says it makes him uniquely qualified to serve the interests of graduate students, as he knows how the financial systems at UConn work.
Fang also served on the University Senate last year on the Senate Executive Committee.
“I was able to develop solutions for graduate student issues, ranging from funding to immigration issues,” Fang said on his time on the SEC.
Despite pursuing a degree in hard science, Fang’s program overseer is a part of CLAS, which he says has given him greater exposure to different people on campus, thus providing him with greater perspective on what issues matter most to graduate students.
On a lighter note, Fang played intramural softball this summer for the Wild Types and started playing tennis for fun this year.
Fang is representing over 7,000 students when he walks into a Board of Trustees meeting, so it is up to him to hit a home run, not just on the field but at the table.
Mike Mavredakis is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. He tweets @mmavredakis.