A Fond Farewell: FIMS says goodbye to Broadcast Manager Dave MillsFor anyone who has worked with him over the years, it came as no surprise that David Mills chose to use the funds earmarked for his retirement gift to establish a fund to benefit students.
And at Dave’s formal retirement reception on April 25, 2013, long-time work partner Wendie Crouch told the audience that such an act was standard Mills modus operandi.
“It’s so typical of his generosity that he puts in time and energy and asks for nothing in return,” she told a room crowded with alumni, faculty and friends spanning across Mills’ 40-plus year career.
The David Mills Fund for Visiting Journalists, which was created in close consultation with Mills, is meant to “sponsor a range of visiting journalists, veteran, senior editors, those breaking new ground with innovative work, or relatively recent grads to come back and help foster the next generation of storytellers, just as Dave did,” explained Crouch. Upon arriving onstage himself, Mills declared the reception a humbling experience.
“If I were texting, I guess it’s OMG,” he quipped.
It has always been about the students for him, Mills explained, noting that he learned how to engage and mentor students from watching other passionate instructors teaching at Western.
“They always keep me on my toes,” he said of his students over the years. “They’re smart. They’re always challenging, and I learn as much from them as they from me.”
In explaining how he’d become an educator of future journalists and broadcasters, Mills said that many years ago he combined a childhood habit of taking mechanical things apart and trying to put them back together again, with a natural nose for news.
As a youngster, Mills called a local news tip-line to report a house fire next door. He earned “tip of the day” status and $5.00 for his effort, and was hooked for life. The dual interests in technology and news created a life-long career in broadcast journalism.
In 1967 Mills started as a part-time cameraman for Technical Services at Western, learning on the job. This would lead to him being named Director of Broadcast Production for the School of Journalism in 1975.
Also in 1975, the “Dave-and-Wendie Team” was born when Media Specialist Wendie Crouch was hired to help with the radio side of the journalism program. Little did she know at the time, but Crouch was being drawn into a professional relationship that, for many students and alumni, would become the face of the program.
“That was the start of a partnership, and a friendship, but a partnership that has been the making of me and my career,” said Crouch.
In 1997 the journalism school was merged with the School of Library and Information Science and the newly formed Media, Information and Technoculture undergraduate program to become the current-day Faculty of Information and Media Studies (FIMS). Mills moved with the program and became Broadcast Manager for the Graduate Program in Journalism at FIMS.
Mills was recognized campus-wide in 2006 when he received the Western Award of Excellence. The awards are the highest level of recognition possible for staff members.
FIMS Dean Thomas Carmichael remarked at the reception that Mills’ retirement was the very definition of a bittersweet occasion.
“On the one hand this marks an ending, and on the other it affords the opportunity…to celebrate and applaud the extraordinary career of Dave Mills,” he said.
But the Dean may have summed it up best when he declared, “Let me be the first from FIMS to say it – you are going to be very, very sorely missed. This is a moment for all of us.”
Dave Mills formally retired from Western on April 30, 2013. He has moved, with his wife Lynda, to their chalet near Collingwood. He hopes to spend his days outside hiking, skiing and boating with his family .
For more information about the David Mills Fund for Visiting Journalists, or to donate, please visit: http://westernconnect.ca/dmills.