The staff assistant to UW System President Ray Cross, who was involved in the mission statement controversy, was hired as a fixed term $5,000 per month consultant to Cross last August, pay that increased to $8,000 per month from January through March, Media Milwaukee has learned.
“In this position, you will report directly to President Ray Cross. As the Consultant you will be providing detailed and close consultations relating to strategic budgeting and planning and organizational change management to the UW System President and UW Regent President,” says the official UW contract of John Yingling, obtained under the state’s open records law.
Cross has a 19-member cabinet in addition to Yingling’s services, according to the UW System website. Twelve of those employees are listed as associate vice presidents. One of those also deals with budgets and planning and another with policy analysis and research. Yingling, who runs a Mequon consulting firm, was co-chair of the 13-member search and screen committee that appointed longtime Scott Walker confidante Jim Villa to the university relations job in Cross’ office last April. Yingling is also chair of the State Fair Park Board and is the chief financial officer for the YWCA of Southeast Wisconsin, according to its website.
Yingling was initially contracted by the UW System to be paid $60,000 for a term of 12 months.
The UW System was asked why Yingling’s services were needed. According to UW System Associate Vice President of Communications Alex Hummel, “Mr. Yingling was brought in to serve UW System Administration during the maternity leave of Chief of Staff Jessica Tormey.” Asked for specific dates, Hummel said that Tormey began her maternity leave in December 2014 and that she was on a flexible maternity leave plan until June.
But Yingling’s initial contract was dated July 28, 2014 and his start date as a consultant thus predates Tormey’s maternity leave by several months. The initial contract states that he has been contracted for a fixed term terminal appointment effective Aug. 1, 2014 and ending July 31, 2015. When he signed the additional contract on Jan. 16, expanding his role to include the duties of President Cross’s Chief of Staff, Tormey, the new contract said that assignment was in addition to his previous fixed term duties. The new contracts specifies what it says are “additional duties.”
The first contract stated that Yingling was to report directly to Cross.
When the controversy emerged over the rewriting of the UW Mission Statement, the media referred to Yingling as a special assistant to Cross. Yingling was the UW System representative who, on Jan. 29, insisted to Wisconsin Department of Administration employees that they strike some of the language which effectively changed the UW mission statement.
Curious who Yingling is, Media Milwaukee submitted an open records request for his contract. Hummel gave Media Milwaukee an email to reach Yingling for comment, but it didn’t go through.
In January 2015, when Yingling’s contract was amended to expand his responsibilities within the UW System administration, he was contracted to be paid an additional $9,000 from January through March, bringing his total salary for the appointment to $69,000. This amounted to an additional $3,000 a month, the contract said. Thus, for those three months, Yingling was being paid $8,000 per month to assist Cross with management duties.
The new contract said Yingling was to assume the chief of staff’s responsibilities in Cross’ office. His new duties also included:
- Overseeing Board of Regents preparation for Cross
- Assisting in “managing staff activities”
- Assisting in managing strategic planning activities not done by another staffer
- Managing and participating in administrative staff hearings
- “Facilitate all other activities as requested by President Cross”
Yingling, of Mequon, was appointed to serve a term on the State Fair Park Board by the Wisconsin Legislature and is its chairman (Villa serves on the board). His term expires in May. He runs a company called the Paladan Group. In 2012, he made $159,160 as CFO for the YWCA for working an average of 30 hours per week, according to the YWCA tax return from that year.
Some Cross emails that have been previously been made public copy Yingling.