Western mysteries exposed: The voice of Registar and the story behind julian
By Sharon Navarro
It's the message every student at Western has heard: "Thank you for calling Registar. To use this system you must have access to a touch tone telephone.... now let's begin."
It's a hard voice to forget as it tells fee payment schedules, successes, failures and course timetables. There is a person behind this voice, however her name is Diane Mills and she is the academic counsellor in the faculty of music.
"I auditioned for the voice-over by doing a number of phone messages for the office of the registrar," Mills said. The recording, which started in 1991, required the assistance of a technician from New York and took two morning sessions to complete. "It didn't take as long as I had thought," Mills said, who read off numerals zero-to-nine, course names as well as subject indicators. The computerized system then combines the recorded information to produce the audio feedback heard on Registar.
"My friends and I find it a bit amusing that I'm the 'Registar Lady', but in the end I feel proud I was involved in the project," Mills claims.
"I remember a time when I had to re-record a segment because a student thought I sounded too happy informing them of course cancellation if they didn't pay the tuition deposit," Mills laughed.
Though she has no future plans to do other voice-over projects, Mills said she finds herself returning to the recording studios yearly to update Registar information.
Another subject of wonder is why the Western email addresses contain the name "julian."
The name is a tribute to the late Julian Davies, a professor in the department of computer science during the 1970s, said Denis Regnier, manager of operations at Information Technology Services. "He was a pioneer of the Western email system and was heavily involved in the system's planning stages."
Linda Zimmerman, a Western alumni who graduated in 1979 with a masters degree in computer science, remembers Davies as a visionary of his time. "Julian was a quiet man with a hearing disability, but was a fine professor and he would have been honoured to know he was remembered this way," she said.
Losing the battle against cancer in 1985, Davies' legacy lives on through the Julian Davies Silver Medal Award. Each year this award is given to a graduating computer science student with a disability who has made a significant contribution to interpersonal computer communications.