UCL News


Spotlight on Harris Laspas

21 August 2012

This week the spotlight is on Harris Laspas, Regular Giving Manager in the Development & Alumni Relations Office.

Harris Laspas

What is your role and what does it involve?

I'm one of the fundraisers in the Development and Alumni Relations Office and my role is to manage our telephone campaigns that aim to encourage UCL's alumni and friends to support our university.

I work in the Regular Giving team, which focuses on generating unrestricted income, primarily from our alumni, but also from friends of UCL and parents of current students. Unrestricted income enables UCL to direct donor gifts towards UCL's most urgent needs, allowing us to respond quickly to new opportunities and to support activity for which no other funding is available.

In practice, this makes a lot of wonderful things possible around UCL; from bursaries and scholarships to help students in financial need, to academic and cultural projects led by either staff or students.

For example, did you know that every time you go up the stairs to the main library or have a break in the Print Room Café you are seeing the impact of alumni giving? Both the display cases in the library staircase and the Print Room Café materialised thanks to the generosity of past students.

We run one telephone campaign in each of the UCL terms and recruit about 60 students per year, whose job is to reinforce the relationship between our alumni and the university. They talk to them about how UCL has influenced their lives, bring them up to date with the latest developments here and explore their views on philanthropy towards UCL. It is a very rewarding experience for both our students and our alumni.

Our alumni often write to the students that called them and take an active interest in their studies and future careers. I can see how our alumni's love for UCL has an effect on our students and inspires them to go on and achieve bigger and greater things.

How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?

I have been at UCL for almost seven years. I was a fundraising consultant before, travelling around the country, helping universities, schools, theatres and art houses to set up telephone fundraising campaigns.

What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?

Changing people's lives for the better. Most of our students that first come in for an interview to become telephone fundraisers do not know much about alumni or university fundraising.

Many of our graduates are also not aware of the impact that alumni gifts can have on UCL. However, philanthropy has always played an extremely important role throughout the history of UCL. The university would not exist in the first place if it wasn't for philanthropy. Alumni generosity has touched the lives of hundreds of students who wouldn't be able to study at UCL today without the help from our supporters.

On a larger scale, the lives of millions of people around the world are improved because of groundbreaking research going on at UCL, made possible thanks to philanthropic support.

One of the main roles of our team and of the students that work with us is to spread the word and become ambassadors for the university both on and off campus. It is amazing to see their transformation and how passionate they become about our cause.

Earlier in the year, we approached our 2010 graduates for a gift and we had an overwhelming response. This, in turn, inspired our calling team to make their own gift to UCL. So now we can add current students to our long list of donors, together with alumni, staff, friends of UCL and parents of students.

What is your life like outside UCL?

I am a keen cyclist and I use my bike as my means of transport around London. When I get the chance I also embark on long cycling trips around Europe. I love the feeling of freedom this gives you and the fact that people actually take the time to talk to you and be friendly.

It can be exciting as well. I once found myself in a big storm in a forest on the border between France and Belgium with trees falling around me and blocking the road - but fortunately I made it out okay!