Minnesota State University Moorhead will honor six alumni for extraordinary achievements in their professions at this year’s Homecoming, which runs Monday through Sunday, Oct. 3-9.

This year’s honorees: Ellen Diederich ’83, David Joerger ’97, Joseph Porwoll ’76, Amber Johnson ’09, Melanie Nordhougen ’06 and Marvel Froemming ’59 have been designated Distinguished Alumni.

The Distinguished Alumni Celebration will be Thursday, Oct. 6 with a 5:30 p.m. social and 6:30 p.m. dinner at the Comstock Memorial Union Ballroom. Reservations are required by calling 218-477-2143. 


Distinguished Alumni Award winners:

ellenEllen Diederich
, Professional Artist, Author, Publisher, and Entrepreneur; Givinity Press

Ellen Diederich is a professional artist, author, publisher and entrepreneur. Diederich has been a professional painter since 1985. She specializes in watercolor and acrylic and is a founding member of the Red River Watercolor Society and also a signature member of the Transparent Watercolor Society of America, The Red River Watercolor Society, The Watercolor Society of Alabama and Watercolor West.

Diederich received her B.F.A. in Fine Art and a B.A. in Art Education in 1983 from MSUM. She’s won several national and international awards for her paintings. Aside from painting, she’s also an established author and publisher, having written and illustrated three books. Two of her children’s books, titled: Where’s Petunia? and Samson’s Gift have won gold medals in children’s literature.

She also enjoys teaching adults watercolor. She teaches to clubs, teacher groups and at career fair seminars, hoping to inspire others to enjoy the arts.

Diederich and her husband, Paul, live in Fargo.


daveDavid Joerger, Head Coach, NBA’s Sacramento Kings

David Joerger is a professional basketball coach for the Sacramento Kings of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Prior to coaching on basketball’s biggest stage, he played basketball at Concordia College before transferring to MSUM. There, he played point guard for the Dragon men’s basketball team for two seasons. He proved himself successful as a Dragon, setting the MSUM single-game assist record in 1996 with 15 against Winona State University.

Joerger received his B.A. in Mass Communications in 1997 from MSUM. After leaving the university, he joined the Dakota Wizards of the International Basketball Association as the team’s general manager. He eventually became the head coach in 2000 and led the team to winning their first championship.

He then went on to coach in the Continental Basketball Association and the NBA Development League. Throughout his time prior to joining the NBA, he led teams to five championships. In 2013, he was hired as the head coach for the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies, coaching them for three years before moving to the Sacramento Kings.

Joerger and his wife, Kara, reside in Sacramento with their two daughters.


jp-pictureJoseph Porwoll, Retired Chemist, Sigma-Aldrich

Joseph Porwoll was a chemist for the Sigma-Aldrich worldwide organization prior to his retirement in 2013. Throughout his career with Sigma-Aldrich, he filled many roles. He was the president of Aldrich Corporation and the Vice President of Global Supply Chain. He provided corporate guidance to senior leaders and set strategies for improvements to supply chain execution. He also developed, managed, and manufactured stable isotope production systems.

Porwoll’s dedication and passion for chemistry contributed to the successful growth of the company, leading it to be the world’s most important chemical producer supporting academics, biotechnology and pharmaceutical research.

Porwoll received his B.S. in Chemistry in 1976 from MSUM. He earned his Ph.D. in Bio-Organic Chemistry from the University of Minnesota in 1981.

Since retiring, he’s offered his expertise by joining the Board of Directors at Isowater Corporation. Isowater is a clean technology company and leading global supplier of deuterium oxide and related products for the Life Sciences, High Technology and Environmental Science sectors. In his free time, he enjoys golf, archery, as well as being a judge for the AKC Pointing Dog Field Trial.

Porwoll lives in Colgate, Wisconsin with his wife, Mary Ann, who is also an MSUM alumnus.


amber-johnsonAmber Johnson, Director, Producer, and Cinematographer; Twin Cities Film Fest, Cargill, Freelance

Amber Johnson is a media production specialist at Cargill and a video producer at Twin Cities Film Fest. She more broadly defines herself as a cinematographer and director. Johnson started her career as a freelance filmmaker where she gained experience working on commercials, films and television.

Johnson received her B.A. in Film Studies in 2009 from MSUM. She proved her passion for film at MSUM, working on a half dozen films in just one semester as a senior. Since leaving the university, she has found success freelancing for commercial, television and film productions.

In addition, she is the executive director of the non-profit filmmaking collective, Persistence of Vision in 2011. It’s an organization dedicated to providing networking and educational opportunities for independent filmmakers in the Twin Cities area. They meet monthly to brainstorm ideas, share projects and discuss film.

Johnson lives in Minneapolis.


nordhougen-melanie_2Melanie Nordhougen, Assistant Project Manager, Mortenson Construction

Melanie Nordhougen works for Mortenson Construction as an assistant project manger on the Sanford Fargo Medical Center.

Nordhougen received her B.S. in Construction Management in 2009 from MSUM. While at MSUM, she enjoyed working in the Physical Plant, where she gained hands-on experience working on renovation projects on MSUM’s campus. With the connections she made at the university, she was able to attend meetings about the construction that was happening on campus.

She moved to California within a month after graduating to pursue her career in construction, prior to returning to Fargo. There, she worked for Performance Contracting Group, specializing in interior and exterior construction services. She worked on a variety of projects where she gained construction experience in education, healthcare and correctional facilities.

Nordhougen and her husband, Scott, live in Fargo.


marvelMarvel Froemming, Retired Mathematics Professor, Minnesota State University Moorhead

Marvel Froemming is a retired MSUM mathematics professor.

Froemming received her B.S. in Mathematics and also a B.S. in History from MSUM in 1959. As a student, she was involved with Gamma Nu Sorority. She was also a writer for the school’s newspaper, formally known as The MiSTiC.

Four short years after graduating from then-Moorhead State Teachers College in 1959, she returned to teach in the math department where she remained for 36 years, educating hundreds of students along the way.

Since retiring, she’s still proving her love for the university by organizing several alumni reunions, participating in university-wide panel discussions, attending numerous university events, and also by maintaining an endowed scholarship in honor of her parents. Through being a student, professor, and now dedicated alumni, her love for the campus has only grown.

Froemming lives in Moorhead.