Mary Ann Lochner, general counsel for Western Carolina University, is recipient of one of the university’s highest honors.
Lochner, top legal adviser at WCU since August 2010, is only the 12th person in university history selected to receive the Trustees’ Award. The Board of Trustees bestowed the award upon her as part of the board’s quarterly meeting Friday, June 5.
The Trustees’ Award is presented only on rare occasions in recognition of exemplary service to the university, Teresa Williams, board chair, said in announcing the honor.
“In fine jazz production, it is the bass that supplies the beat, and the security of the harmony, of the melody. The bass allows the other musical instruments to take off on flights of fantasy, to move about but to know there is a steady beat to which to return,” Williams said.
“Mary Ann Lochner, you have provided that service to this board. You have been the steady beat and you have been the security of our harmony, of our legality. It has been your steadiness, it has been your vision, it has been your reasoned counsel, your ethical grounding and your diligent service that have allowed this board to explore new waters,” she said. “You have been there with a steady beat that has never failed. Western Carolina is stronger because you have been here.”
Williams pointed out several major projects at WCU in recent years on which Lochner has been instrumental. These include:
• An agreement in 2013 to lease the 344-acre “millennial campus” tract purchased in 2005 to the university’s Endowment Fund, a move designed to enable WCU to respond rapidly and nimbly to potential public-private economic development opportunities. As part of that project, WCU is currently in negotiations with potential private developers for a medical office building to be constructed near the Health and Human Sciences Building, with completion expected in early 2017.
• The behind-the-scenes negotiations for a privately built mixed-use residential and commercial facility scheduled to rise on the central campus site of a November 2013 structural fire. Demolition of the remaining commercial strip along Centennial Drive began earlier this month, with construction to begin later this summer. The residential space will provide suite-style, double-occupancy living arrangements, with a small number of single-occupancy loft-style rooms. In addition to a mix of retail and dining establishments, the ground floor is expected to include additional residential space.
• Working with the Internal Revenue Service to resolve an issue surrounding the use of tax-exempt bonds for construction of the Village residential complex on campus and the manner in which student organizations have entered into housing contracts with the university for space in that complex.
• Guiding the university through the development of a new compliance office to ensure that the institution remains in accordance with an ever-expanding menu of federal and state requirements.
Before joining the WCU administration, Lochner was senior staff attorney for the Community Organization Legal Assistance Project in Indianapolis, a program delivering pro bono legal services and related technical assistance to nonprofit organizations serving low wealth, inner-city neighborhoods.
She has worked in private practice; as senior attorney for Buchanan Ingersoll in Tampa, Florida; as vice president and general counsel for St. Anthony’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida; and as deputy attorney general in the Indiana Office of the Attorney General. Prior to her legal career, Lochner was a staff pharmacologist at Eli Lilly and Company and a medical technologist at Indiana University Hospital.
She earned bachelor’s degrees in biology and medical technology and her law degree from Indiana University.
Past recipients of the Trustees’ Award are Wallace Hyde, E.J. Whitmire, Barbara B. Coulter, Ruth C. Shuler, Burton B. Fox, Judy H. Dowell, Rich Kucharski, George “Chuck” Wooten, Clifton B. Metcalf, Dianne C. Lynch and Tom Apodaca.