Jessica Tormey

Jessica Tormey

Jessica Tormey, chief of staff to UW System President Ray Cross has resigned, following a conviction for drunk driving after an October Board of Regents meeting at University of Wisconsin-Stout, officials announced Tuesday.

Tormey, 45, told police after a traffic stop that she had had a "confrontation" with colleagues, according to a police report.

“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,” spokeswoman Stephanie Marquis said in a Tuesday statement.

Tormey was also vice president of university relations for the University of Wisconsin System

Tormey, of Fitchburg, pleaded no contest to first offense Operating While Intoxicated in connection with her arrest Oct. 5, hours after a Board of Regents meeting at UW-Stout in Menomonie. The meeting was followed by a dinner at the ballroom ing the UW-Stout Memorial Student Center, at which wine was served.

Doug Mell, executive director of communications and external relations for UW-Stout, said the wine service was an educational opportunity for students.

“The University of Wisconsin-Stout School of Hospitality Leadership has been ranked in the top 10 of the best hospitality and hotel management programs worldwide. The UW System Board of Regents dinner at UW-Stout was an educational opportunity for the participants to learn from an acclaimed School of Hospitality Leadership professor about the intricacies of pairing food with the proper wine. It also was an opportunity to involve our students in this educational opportunity,” Mell said in a statement.

“Shuttles were offered before, during and after both days of the Regents meeting for the convenience and safety of meeting attendees,” he said.

Tormey was stopped at 11:45 p.m. at 13th St. SE and Highway 12 East, after Menomonie police officer Chris King noticed she was driving without headlights, according to a police report on the incident.

Tormey told King she was headed to the AmericInn hotel and then “became emotional and advised she had been involved in some confrontation with some of her colleagues while she had been downtown,” the report said.

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Tormey failed field sobriety tests, King reported. She blew a breath sample test of 0.148, the report said. Tormey was transported to the Dunn County Jail.

In the report, King described Tormey as “very polite.” She “did not cause any issues, but was crying during most of my contact with her after her arrest.”

Marquis said no decision yet was made in replacing Tormey.

“In the weeks ahead, President Cross will determine how to best fill the Chief of Staff and Vice President roles. In the interim, Office of Administration Vice President Rob Cramer will assist in managing and supporting her team. Cramer has more than 20 years of experience in higher education and state government,” Marquis said.

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