2015 Distinguished Alumni

In 2015 the NSU Alumni Association honored noteworthy alumni with the Distinguished Alumni Award, the Distinguished International Alumni Award, the Kretchman Coaching Award, and inducted former Wolves athletes into the NSU Hall of Fame.


Gerald Ward graduated cum laude from Northern in 1970 with a B.A. in Economics. He played varsity tennis for the Golden Eagles and the Wolves and worked full time throughout college in the sports and mail departments at the Aberdeen American News. His Northern roots are deep as his mother, Lorraine, was assistant placement director and later executive assistant to the president of Northern for many years.


Ward earned his MBA from the University of Wisconsin’s School of Business and upon graduation joined Price Waterhouse in New York City. PWC is among the world’s leading professional service organizations with offices in 160 countries and 200,000 people. He retired as partner, vice chairman and leader of the firm’s Worldwide Audit and Assurance Practice, having served many of the world’s largest technology and energy public companies. Ward has authored over 40 books and professional articles, translated into 20 languages, relating to computer risks and technology, international accounting issues and business ethics. 


He has led numerous professional and charitable boards. For example, Ward served as chairman of The Door – A Center for Alternatives, an internationally-recognized youth services nonprofit that serves annually 12,000 at-risk teenagers. The World Economic Forum and both the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services have honored The Door’s holistic model for its success in serving impoverished communities.


Since returning to South Dakota, Ward and his wife, Carol, have developed their North Ridge Ranch in Hughes County into one of the nation’s premier cutting horse breeding and training facilities. Ward serves on community organizations such as the Oahe Foundation in Pierre and on several boards and committees of horse-related organizations including the National Cutting Horse Association in Fort Worth, Texas.



Liane Shishnia arrived in Aberdeen, S.D., from Shanghai, China on Aug. 30, 1984. She was the first Chinese student from Mainland China at NSU. Shishnia graduated in 1988 with Magna Cum Laude in Music Education majoring in Piano and taught piano for 10 years in Aberdeen. She then went on to receive her Master’s in Piano Pedagogy with full teaching assistantship in Wichita State University. Shishnia then taught at WSU and Bethany College for two years.  Currently, she resides and teaches piano in Hong Kong.




Kretchman Coaching Award

Floyd Forman earned a Bachelor of Science in Education from NSU in 1968 and a Master of Science degree in 1980 from the University of Nebraska Omaha. As a four-year member of the Wolves football team, Forman was a three-year letter winner and a two-year starter at offensive guard. Forman holds a football coaching record, going 235-95 in 33 years and winning the state championship title with his team in 2002 along with numerous playoff appearances. He was inducted into the Iowa Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2003, and had the football field named Forman Field in his honor in 2005. Forman retired from teaching in 2010 and coaching in 2012 after working at Manning Community Schools and IKM-Manning Schools. He still volunteers as a football and track coach in Manning, Iowa, where he lives with his wife, Donna. They have two children, Sean and Chris, and four grandchildren. Forman enjoys reading, gardening and travel.


2015 Hall of Fame Inductees

Monty Brekke earned a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from NSU in 1961 and a Master of Arts from Bowling Green State University in 1965. Brekke played football for NSU from 1957 to 1960, where he was a three-year starter, playing both offense and defense in his last two years, captain in 1960, first team SDIC in 1959 (offense) and 1960 (defense), and on the NAIA Little All-American Watchlist in 1960 (NCAA Dist. 5). In 1961 he started teaching and coaching in Miller, S.D. Brekke is past president of Lions and Optimists and has built homes for the poor in Mexico and Guatemala. He and his wife, Elaine, currently reside in Missoula, Mont., where he teaches mathematics at the University of Montana. Brekke enjoys spending time with his family, white water rafting, hunting and fly fishing.


Jeremy Vliem earned his Bachelor of Science in Finance from NSU in 1997. As a student at NSU, Vliem played basketball all four years, where he made 1,552 career points to place him 17th overall on the NSU career scoring list. Vliem averaged 19.3 points per game his senior year and scored more than 60 percent from the field during his 90 games with the Wolves. He is a member of the Board of Directors for the Sturgis Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau as well as a past president of the board. Vliem currently works as an insurance agent in Sturgis, where he lives with his wife, Cindy, and children, Jake, Max, Olivia and Madeline. He enjoys spending time with his family camping and boating, coaching youth football in the fall and basketball in the winter, and watching soccer and baseball in the spring.


Kristin Fox earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology in 2004, and a Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree from the University of Nebraska Medical Center, where she graduated with high distinction in 2007. During her time at Northern, Fox ran distance for the NSU cross country and track teams. She received All-NSIC track and field honors 10 times and All-NSIC cross country honors three times. In track, in 2002 she won the NSIC indoor 5,000 meter run and the outdoor 3,000 meter steeplechase. She repeated as champion in the 3,000 meter steeplechase in 2004. In cross country, Fox was All-Conference 2000, 2001 and 2003, placing second overall in the 2003 NSIC championship meet. Fox holds the NSU indoor record in the 1,500 meter with a time of 4:50.31. Fox was the Kelly Scholar-Athlete Award winner in 2004, and was a two-time NCAA Division II Academic All-American in cross country and track and field. Fox currently works as a physical therapist in Worthington, Minn., and lives with her husband, Troy, and two children in Brandon, S.D.


Kristie Gordy earned her Bachelor of Arts in 2002. During her four years at Northern, she played sweeper for Wolves soccer, where she was voted team captain from 1998 to 2001; voted team MVP four times; ranked ninth and 12th nationally in scoring offense and 10th in Central Region in 2001; as well as going undefeated at home. Gordy is sixth in the NSU record books with 9 single season assists, and seventh with 14 career assists. In 2000, Gordy tallied five goals scored and a team-leading nine assists, with 19 points on the year. Gordy was named NSIC All-Conference First Team 1998-2001, Conference MVP, and recipient of the NSCAA Adidas academic all-region award. She was a Hub City scholar-honor athlete and a three-time academic all-conference selection. Gordy has volunteered as an under 10 boys’ soccer coach and as a high school soccer referee, along with participating in Art for the Cure and Relay for Life. She currently works as an attorney in Cheyenne, Wyo.