University Announces New General Counsel, Chief Financial Officer
Date published: July 15, 2020
The University of Dallas has announced a new general counsel, Heather A. Lachenauer,
and chief financial officer, Robert Watling. Both of these roles are filling positions
left vacant by Lachenauer and Watling’s predecessors.
“Both Robert and Heather have joined us at a time when their expertise is greatly
needed by the University of Dallas,” said President Thomas S. Hibbs, Ph.D., BA ’82 MA ’83. “They are exceedingly competent in their fields and deeply
collaborative in their mode of work. We are fortunate to have them among us!”
Heather Lachenauer, who joined UD in May following her work as senior counsel with
the First Liberty Institute, is an experienced litigator, appellate advocate and educator
who has successfully represented international companies, federal agencies, financial
institutions, businesses and individuals. She has advocated on behalf of clients in
a variety of pro bono matters involving asylum, the death penalty and religious liberty,
among others. Lachenauer has taught political science, rhetoric, and poetics and aesthetics
as an adjunct professor and is a former member of the Board of Regents of St. John
Paul the Great Catholic University. She is the cofounder of Epiphany Prep Charter
School, a school dedicated to providing quality education to children living in low-income
communities in San Diego.
Prior to practicing law, Lachenauer spent 10 years working in the field of international
development and humanitarian aid, with a focus on legal reform and economic development
in Central and Eastern Europe and West Africa and the development of sustainable education
in Papua New Guinea.
Lachenauer completed her undergraduate work at the College of William and Mary in
Williamsburg, Virginia. She studied philosophy and theology at the Dominican School
of Philosophy and Theology and obtained a master’s degree in education and human development
at George Washington University. She earned her law degree from the University of
Notre Dame School of Law.
“I am honored and excited to be a member of an exceptional and inspired leadership
team at one of the best universities in the country,” said Lachenauer. “Since moving
to Dallas I have met many UD grads and admire the common thread among them — a well-formed
character and inquisitive intellect. UD fosters an environment dedicated to intellectual
and moral inquiry, where students are provided the opportunity to grow in supernatural
and natural virtue.”
A Virginia native, Lachenauer is a member of the State Bar of California and the State
Bar of Texas, and is admitted to practice before multiple federal courts, including
the United States Supreme Court. She is an avid runner and a masters rower; she and
her husband also enjoy hiking, biking, and all things water related (they are from
southern California, and he is a surfer). They also love being in the mountains and
traveling internationally; among Lachenauer’s favorite countries that they’ve visited
are Ireland, Italy and Poland.
Robert Watling, CPA, oversees accounting, audit, treasury, procurement, debt management,
student accounts and budget operations at the University of Dallas.
Watling has more than 15 years of finance experience in higher education, serving
as a chief business officer for a college or administrative division. Prior to joining
the University of Dallas in January, Watling was vice provost for academic resources
at the University of North Texas. In this role, he implemented an academic financial
program review to facilitate a more strategic and data-informed allocation of resources.
Watling brings valuable private sector experience to his work in higher education;
before focusing his career in higher education, Watling spent about five years in
corporate finance, focusing on financial statement analysis.
Watling has been a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in Virginia since 2007
and in Texas since 2010. He is a member of the Southern Association of College and
University Business Officers (SACUBO), chairing the Small Institutions Constituent
Committee. Watling holds a bachelor’s degree from George Mason University and an MBA
from Virginia Tech. A veteran of the United States Army, Robert was awarded the Armed
Forces Expeditionary Medal for service in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Like Lachenauer, both Watling and his wife are avid runners; they got engaged at the
2012 Chicago Marathon and married at the 2013 Boston Marathon, moving forward with
their wedding in spite of the bombing that occurred at the marathon that year because
they felt that love needed to prevail, as they explained in an interview with CNN
that night. The next year, Watling’s wife ran the 2014 Boston Marathon while three
months pregnant with their daughter, Lexi. Lexi’s middle name, Copley, is taken from
Copley Square, where the marathon finishes. Lexi is now a pre-K graduate, looking
forward to kindergarten in August.
“The university’s mission is very meaningful to me, and I look forward to contributing
to such a wonderful community of students, faculty, alumni and staff, as we continue
to advance the vision as a premier Catholic university,” said Watling. “I would like
to build on prior work of the Office of Finance and empower campus leaders with financial
data and information that will lead to well-informed, strategic decisions.”