2012 Distinguished Alumni

In 2012, the NSU Alumni Association honored noteworthy alumni with the Distinguished Alumni Award, the Gold Award, and Kretchman Coaching Award, and inducted former Wolves athletes into the NSU Hall of Fame.

Distinguished Alumni

Gregg Wiitala graduated from Northern in 1966 with a B.S. in economics. He earned his M.A. degree in economic development from Ohio University in 1972. Gregg has spent his career leading economic expansion projects in several developing and poverty-stricken countries. His numerous experiences have included project design, analysis and evaluation; program planning and reporting; financial and private sector development, including credit programs, housing finance, privatization programs, banking and insurance, capital markets, and financial regulation; production, finance, agro-business and value chain in the agriculture field; and infrastructure including roads, water pipelines and rail rehabilitation in post-conflict countries.

Gregg was a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya from 1966-1969 where he served as area manager for the Masai Agricultural Development Organization. Following his graduation from Ohio University, he held several managerial positions over 13 years of employment with Technoserve Inc., establishing or rehabilitating agro-business enterprise in Africa. In 1987 he began his 25-year career with USAID, the U.S Government agency providing economic and humanitarian assistance worldwide. He was a regional project development officer in Nairobi, Kenya, covering east and southern Africa. In USAID/Mozambique he was responsible for leading seven major rehabilitation projects with a combined portfolio value of $310 million. Gregg worked for USAID/Ghana and led three divisions including the largest West Africa food aid division that averaged $20 million per annum. He then worked for USAID/Egypt, where he was team leader for private sector programs. Gregg represented USAID in a joint program with the World Bank to establish Egypt's highly successful housing finance program. Gregg then worked as a director for USAID/Bosnia and Herzegovina, where he was responsible for financial sector reforms and for private sector programs in agriculture, light industry, tourism and forestry.


Since 2009, Gregg has worked for USAID/Jordan as senior program management advisor for the Office of Program Management and as senior private sector advisor for the Office of Economic Growth. As the advisor to the program office reporting to Washington and the embassy, he was assigned special tasks including completion of country strategy, preparation of congressional budget justification, design of the economic growth component of the new poverty strategy, and an initial assessment of human rights activities. Gregg has designed two major private enterprise projects in Jordan at $35 million each, focusing on enterprise development in low-income urban areas and supporting high tech start-up enterprises in clean energy, biotechnology and information technology. Throughout his career Gregg has also worked as a consultant or collaborator with several international development agencies including SIDA (Sweden), NORAD (Norway), GTZ (Germany), Irish Aid and the World Bank.

Gregg and his wife, Laura, have two children and currently reside in Jordan with a home in Minnesota.


GOLD Award (Graduate of the Last Decade)

Dr. Eric Rambow received his B.S. degree in mathematics from Northern in 2003. He played football for the Wolves and was named team captain in 2001 and 2002, receiving awards for weightlifting both of those years. He then received a B.S. in biology from SDSU in 2005 and his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the University of Minnesota in 2009. Dr. Rambow and his wife, Dr. Meghan Rambow, purchased a practice in 2009 and originated the Morris Dental Clinic PA in Morris, MN. The practice provides dental care for patients of all ages along with a wide variety of cosmetic dental treatments and dental care products. The Rambows plan to expand their dental practice to other towns and expand the services they provide to include placing implants.  


Dr. Rambow was awarded the Irwin A. Epstein Award for Clinical Endodontics and the American Academy of Oral & Maxilloficial Radiology Award and was the 2009 recipient of the Outstanding Dental Student in Implant Dentistry Award from the Academy of Osseointegration. Dr. Rambow is a member of the Morris Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, the Minnesota Dental Association and the American Dental Association. He is also involved in 4H, FFA, Ducks Unlimited and Pheasants Forever and enjoys water skiing, snow skiing and exercising. The Rambows live in Morris with their daughter, Avery, and have a home on Lake Minnetonka.


Kretchman Coaching Award

Steven Keszler graduated from Northern in 1990 with a B.S. in education. He was a member of the wrestling team from 1985-1990 and was also a member of the golf team in 1985. During his wrestling career, Steven was a three-time varsity letter winner. He was named team captain for the 1989-90 season and was NSIC conference player of the week that same year. Steven was a two time NAIA national qualifier and a runner-up in the 1990 NSIC conference tournament.

Today, Steven works at Sturgis High School in Sturgis, SD as a biology and PE teacher and head wrestling coach. In his 22 years as coach, he has won 9 state championships, 14 regional championships and 14 conference championships. He has coached 30 individual state champions and 148 individual state place winners.


Steven has received numerous coaching awards including 2005 and 2010 South Dakota Coach of the Year, 2010 National Coach of the Year finalist, seven-time conference Coach of the Year, and eight-time regional Coach of the Year. He has a career dual record of 304-38. Steven has had many athletes go on to earn All-American honors in college at all NCAA and NAIA levels, including an athlete currently on the USA World Team.

Steven and his wife, Linda, have three children.



Amanda Bain received a B.S. in biology from NSU in 2000. Amanda was a member of Northern's women's basketball teams from 1996-2000. She averaged 10 points per game and 3.5 assists per game during her career, helping her to become the second all-time leader in assists. She is also second all-time in steals with a career average of 1.9 steals per game.

Amanda led the conference in many categories during her playing career including steals per game, assist/turnover ratio, and 3-point percentage. She was a three-time NSIC all-conference choice (1998, 1999, 2000). She also helped lead the Wolves to NSIC championships and NCAA regional appearances in 1997 and 1998 and another regional appearance in 2000.


Amanda currently resides in Aberdeen with her husband, Scott, and their two children. She is a certified paralegal for Richardson, Wyly, Wise, Sauck & Heib LLC and is an active member of both the South Dakota Paralegal Association and the National Association of Legal Assistants. Amanda also volunteers as a basketball coach for the Upward Bound basketball program.


Chris Burckhard earned a B.S. in accounting from NSU in 1997. A standout with the women's basketball team from 1993-97, Chris earned NSIC all-conference honors in 1995-96 and 1996-97. She finished her collegiate career with 1,260 points and 608 rebounds.

Her team was the NAIA Division II National Champions in 1993-94. That same year they earned a 64-1 Wachs Arena home court record and a national record for the most consecutive wins at 45. She and her teammates from the 1993-94 season were inducted into the NSIC Conference Hall of Fame in 2009.


Chris and her husband, Kevin, live in Aberdeen with their three children: Paiton, Reece and Lauryn. She is an accountant for Northern Valley Communications and a member of the Mayor's Fitness Council.


Kevin Burckhard graduated from Northern with a degree in management and business finance in 1995. He was a member of the men's basketball team from 1992-1994. Kevin was named to many individual honors, including NSIC first team all-conference (1993 and 1994), all-region (1994), and first team all-American (1994). He still holds Northern's single season rebound record.

Kevin's individual success also translated to team success, as he helped lead the Wolves to an NSIC conference championship in 1993, region championships in 1993 and 1994, and NAIA national runner-ups in 1993 and 1994. The teams on whichKevin played hold several NSU team records, including overall record and most wins. After his playing career at NSU, Kevin went on to play semi-professional basketball in Brazil in 1994.


Today he is located back in Aberdeen with his wife, Chris (Swanhorst), and their three children. He works as a business banking sales manager for Dacotah Bank. He is active in the Aberdeen community, serving on various boards.


Doug Couglin earned his B.S. in sociology with a minor in criminal justice from NSU in 1993. A standout athlete in football and track, he was a three-year starter on the defensive line, accumulating over 200 career tackles and over 10 sacks. In 1990, the year the Wolves were conference champions, he led the team in tackles from the nose guard position. He was a two-time first team all-conference selection in football and chosen as team captain in 1991, along with receiving all-American honorable mention in 1990.


Doug placed in the top 12 in 6 national track meets in the shot put, competing in three outdoor and four indoor national championships. He was team captain for track in 1993 and was all-conference in the shot put in both the indoor and outdoor seasons in 1990-1993.

Doug and his wife, Erica, live in Pierre with their four children. He is director of training and recruiting for the South Dakota Highway Patrol. He is also involved in youth sports, coaching football and hockey, and is 3rd Degree Knight with the Knights of Columbus.


Jean Kringstad earned a degree from Northern in biology in 2000. She was a member of Northern's volleyball team from 1996-1999, earning all-conference honors in the 1997, 1998 and 1999 seasons.

She is currently the career leader in block assists (315), second in kills (1,184), third in total blocks (463), and fifth in attacks (3,086). She holds NSU records for individual attack percentage in a season (.335) and for a career (.315).

Jean lives in Apple Valley, MN, where she works as the director of invitro testing services for WuXi AppTec Inc. She has been nominated to sit as contributing scientist for an internal scientific review panel three years in a row and was nominated to be corporate representative for ASTM, a national standards body.


Edmund May earned his B.A. in finance in 1994. He was a standout offensive lineman for the football team from 1990-1993. He was a three-year starter (1991, 1992, and 1993) and did not allow a sack during the 1992 and 1993 seasons, with the team utilizing a pro-style passing offense. He accumulated 39 career pancake blocks.

Ed helped lead the Wolves to NCIS championships in 1990 and 1992 and was named NSIC all-conference first team in 1992 and 1993. Ed also was named second team NAIA all-American in 1992 and first team all-American the following year. He was awarded the Glen Galagen Award for outstanding male student athlete in 1993 and was also the recipient of the Clark Swisher Award for NSU outstanding male student athlete in 1994.

Ed currently resides in Apple Valley, MN, working as a manager for Menards Inc. He has two children, Faith and Matthew.