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A top University of Wisconsin System administrator has resigned after being cited for drunken driving.

Jessica Tormey, of Fitchburg, was vice president of university relations for the System and chief of staff to UW President Ray Cross. She had been one of Cross’ top lieutenants since he began leading the System in 2014.

A Tuesday statement from UW System communications director Stephanie Marquis said Cross accepted Tormey’s resignation effective Jan. 29.

“Ms. Tormey made a personal choice to leave the organization based upon a personal mistake and how media coverage of those decisions potentially reflected on the UW System,” Marquis said.

Marquis did not respond to an inquiry about whether Tormey was asked to resign.

Marquis said Cross will determine, in the weeks ahead, how to best fill the chief of staff and vice president roles. Meanwhile, Rob Cramer, vice president of the system’s Office of Administration, “will assist in managing and supporting (Tormey’s) team,” she said.

On Oct. 5, police stopped Tormey for drunken driving in Menomonie, where she was attending a UW Board of Regents meeting. A police citation filed in Dunn County Circuit Court said Tormey’s blood-alcohol content was 0.13 percent, above the legal limit of 0.08 percent.

Earlier this month, Tormey pleaded guilty to first-offense drunken driving. She was required to pay a fine of $866.50 and have her driver’s license revoked for six months.

Tormey had worked in the UW System since 2007, most recently as one of four System vice presidents who report to Cross. The University Relations office she oversaw includes lobbying, communications and economic development.

Tormey’s salary was $220,000, according to Marquis.

Before her current role, Tormey had been the System’s liaison to state lawmakers and worked in external relations for UW Colleges and UW-Extension. From 1996 to 2006, according to Tormey’s LinkedIn page, she was chief of staff for state Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, who co-chairs the Legislature’s joint budget-writing committee.


Mark Sommerhauser covers state government and politics for the Wisconsin State Journal.