As some of you may have seen on Twitter or Facebook I, along with three colleagues of mine, and Corey, are running the WOLF run on the 15th June. None of us have run a 10k race like this. We could probably all run the 10k flat at the end of our weeks of training, but all of us have pretty rubbish upper body strength. So an obstacle course involving pulling yourself up walls and various other things could be pretty interesting.
We're all doing this because it looks like fun. Some of us *cough* Corey *cough* may be doing this because they murmured that it looks interesting and next thing they know they're signed up for it. But since we're doing it we've decided we should do it for a good cause. The cause that we've picked is the current campaign for the new Centre for Medicine which is currently being built by the University of Leicester. Further information can be found here. Now, I guess it's the obvious choice for a bunch of people from the Development Office of the University of Leicester to pick that campaign. I suppose it would look a little weird if we'd picked something else. But, if I'm being completely honest with you, it is actually something I care a lot about, and not just because of where I work or where I studied.
Yes, I care about the medical students of the university getting up to date facilities instead of having to learn in facilities built in the 1970's for half of the intake there currently is. But that's not what has interested me about this project. There are two things that interest me.
Firstly, we're taking this opportunity to completely change the current curriculum. We want to put patients at the heart of medical care, something that, as a former Health Care Assistant, is very close to my heart. We're already doing this. I spoke to a medical student last year at one of our open days and I asked him why he picked Leicester. He told me he could have gone to Cambridge or Oxford, but you only meet patients there in your third year. He picked Leicester because there he knew he'd be meeting patients a lot sooner than that (I think in the second semester of the first year, but I can't be 100% certain). To him, learning about the human side of medicine was just as important as learning the academic stuff. We want to improve on this further and make sure that the doctors we train in the future will deliver safe, compassionate and holistic care to the patients. I've seen what can happen when patients aren't listened to. I've seen how much better it is when doctors do listen and remember that they are treating a person, not just a symptom. I know what kind of doctor I want to be treated by when I inevitably end up in a hospital, or when I go to the GP again.
The second thing is that, instead of being spread out across the campus, researchers will be brought together in one building. This opens up so much opportunity for collaboration. When you consider that quite a few diseases are interlinked, this will lead to medical breakthroughs that previously may not have been thought of. Last year we took a trip around the newly built Cardiovascular Research Centre that my department fund raised for. During that tour we spoke with a researcher who told us that she was in the middle of a collaborative project with another researcher. They came up with this project when discussing the work they were doing during a break. They had never worked in the same building before, and so that piece of research may never have come about as they may never have met and had the opportunity to talk through what they do. This building will enable that to happen. We're already doing amazing research into the causes of heart disease, lung disease and care for the elderly (including dementia research), to name a few. Put these researchers together in one building and collaboration will be a natural occurrence.
Obviously there's more to it then that, but I just wanted to show that I'm not doing this because I have to or because it looks good if I do. I'm doing this because I honestly care about this campaign and I know that the new facility will lead to medical breakthroughs that will affect us all.
Just some quick FAQ's
Why does a university need philanthropic donations to build?
Universities are charities. You wont find them on the Charity Commission website, because they are regulated separately to other charities, but they are charities none the less. This means that they don't make a profit and therefore don't have a lot of extra funds for buildings. Yes, students pay tuition fees, but that £9,000 doesn't even completely cover the cost of putting that person through university each year. It certainly doesn't cover upgrading buildings, or improving facilities, or the research that happens in universities. Most universities (I would say all, but I don't know for certain) are founded through a philanthropic donation. Most university buildings would have been built through money donated to the university. That's why the buildings have the names of people on them, why rooms and lecture theatres have names. Those are the big donors, but are also those smaller donors, those people who give what they can, who, collectively, make a big difference to a campaign. Ultimately, universities would not be around if not for philanthropy and would not continue to develop and improve if it were not for philanthropy.
Why give to a university instead of a medical charity?
Firstly, charitable giving is not a competition. What do I mean by that? Well, just because you give to one place doesn't mean you can't give to another. I can tell you, though, that a lot of medical breakthroughs and research happens in universities. And, while some medical charities have their own research facilities (CRUK being one), they will also fund university researchers (we have several CRUK funded researchers). Others don't have their own researchers. Instead, universities and their researchers apply to these charities for funding. If you have a medical cause you would like to donate to, you can give to a medical charity or a university. The choice is yours.
Sorry, I know this is rather a long blog post plugging a cause I'm racing for. I'm sure those of you that made it this far are practically screaming "JUST SHOW US YOUR JUST GIVING PAGE". I just didn't want to tweet a Just Giving page link without explaining why I want to help raise funds for this. I didn't want you to think I'm pushing a cause purely because of where I work and what I do. And I wanted to dispel some myths people have around universities (e.g. that they get enough money from tuition fees and governments. That smaller gifts aren't important). I was uncomfortable writing this, but I was even more uncomfortable about just Tweeting a request, too.
Anyway, here's the Just Giving page https://www.justgiving.com/CfM-Wolfrun. Please feel free to sponsor me if you wish to. Alternatively, please feel free to ignore this. Charitable giving is personal, whether you give or don't, and who you choose to give to. I just thank you for putting up with my terribly long post.
Also, if anyone has any questions about the Campaign or just questions around why universities ask you for money after you've paid so much to attend them, or what sorts of causes you could donate to, please feel free to ask in the comments and I will do my best to answer them.
Katy, I know I promised you a post on where University money goes, and I promise you I will write it once I've figured out how to write it!