Standouts in Medical Field Selected for UO Honors

EUGENE, Ore. – Two former Duck student-athletes who have distinguished themselves in the field of medicine and a long-time Duck Athletic Fund staff member have been selected to receive the University of Oregon Athletic Department’s annual alumni awards, athletic director Rob Mullens announced Friday.

Women’s basketball player Ndidi Unaka has been chosen to receive the 2023 Becky L. Sisley Award. Santiago Lorenzo, the 2001 NCAA champion in the decathlon, has been named the recipient of the 2023 Leo Harris Award. Both former student-athletes are now doctors.

Additionally, long-time DAF employee Kim Murray, who played a key role in raising $25 million in major gifts and donations for the Oregon Athletic Department and helped found Oregon’s Women In Flight program, has been named the 2023 Order of the O honoree.

The 2023 Leo Harris, Becky Sisley and Order of the O awards ceremonies will be held in conjunction with the Sept. 23 Colorado football game.

Leo Harris Award

The Alumni Athletic Award was originated in 1967 by the late Leo Harris, former UO director of athletics, and his family and was later renamed the Leo Harris Award in his honor. It is presented to an alumni letterman on the basis of at least 20 years of achievement and service since graduation.

Dr. Santiago Lorenzo won the NCAA championship in the decathlon for Oregon at the 2001 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships and is currently an associate professor of physiology at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) in Bradenton, Fla.

The two-time All-American and two-time Pac-10 decathlon champion was a four-year letterman for the Men of Oregon (1999-03). On his first foray onto the national stage, Lorenzo placed fifth in the decathlon at the 2000 NCAA Championships to earn his first career All-America award.

His 2001 season remains one of the most impressive in school history, winning the Pac-10 decathlon championship in May before claiming the NCAA title a month later, scoring a personal-best 7,889 points. He became the first Duck to win the NCAA crown in the decathlon and helped lead Oregon to a ninth-place finish – the program’s best showing in a decade.

Lorenzo’s total was the fourth-best decathlon in school history at the time, and still ranks seventh on the Oregon career list.

During the 2002 indoor season, he established the school record in the heptathlon with 5,608 points, a mark that is now sixth at Oregon.

Lorenzo reclaimed his Pac-10 decathlon title in 2003 as his performance helped Oregon bring home the league’s championship trophy for the first time since 1990. He was named the University’s 2003 Emerald Award winner as the athletic department’s top male scholar-athlete.

The native of Buenos Aires, Argentina, went on to represent his country in the decathlon at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens and he was inducted into the University’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2018.

His efforts in the classroom were just as impressive, beginning with a second team Academic All-America selection in 2001. Lorenzo was honored with a first team Academic All-America award as well as an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship in 2003. He graduated that year with a degree in human physiology and later went on to earn his Master’s degree and then his Ph.D. from the Department of Human Physiology with an emphasis in Integrative Physiology from Oregon in the spring of 2010.

He perfected his mentoring and research skills working as a postdoctoral research fellow in the Cardiopulmonary Exercise Lab at the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine, along with a joint appointment with the Department of Internal Medicine, at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (2010-12).

Lorenzo spent the early years of his career instructing and mentoring undergraduate and graduate students at Oregon and Lane Community College with a focus in human physiology and physical education courses.

He has been a faculty member at LECOM since 2012, where he has been involved with classes in the College of Medicine, School of Dental Medicine, School of Pharmacy, and School of Graduate Studies. Lorenzo has been recognized in medical journals for his research in osteopathic medicine and has been a keynote speaker and panelist at numerous medical conferences.

Additionally, he is a member of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Olympic/Paralympic Medicine and Sports Science Committee, and he is a current member of the Editorial Board of Exercise Physiology in Frontiers in Physiology Journal.

Lorenzo has been active as a board member and a donor to the YMCA. He also was a volunteer track and field coach at Lakewood Ranch High School from 2014-22 and participates in the Mote Marine Aquarium annual beach cleanup day.

Becky L. Sisley Award

The Becky L. Sisley Award is named after the University’s first director of women’s intercollegiate athletics and is awarded to a former female student-athlete to commemorate community involvement, career development and support of University ideals.

A member of Oregon’s 2002 WNIT championship women’s basketball team, Dr. Ndidi Unaka, MD, MEd, is an associate professor in the Division of Hospital Medicine at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC).

In her clinical role as a pediatric hospitalist at CCHMC, she is part of a team that provides complex care service for children with neurologic impairment and technology dependence. The complex care team has served as a model for other peer institutions and has been featured in medical journals.

Unaka played in 85 games for the Ducks from 1998-02, starting 12. She averaged 2.8 points and 1.9 rebounds per game in her career.

She scored 3.4 points and averaged 2.7 rebounds per game as a senior on the Ducks’ 2002 squad that won the WNIT by defeating Houston 54-52 in the championship game at McArthur Court. She scored a season-high 12 points against Washington and grabbed career-high eight rebounds at Portland her senior season.

A year earlier, Unaka averaged 3.8 points per game and scored a career-high 15 points at Washington State.

She was a two-time Pac-10 All-Academic honorable mention selection and was named the team’s most improved player in 1999.

Following her playing career, Unaka received her undergraduate degree from Oregon in 2003 and graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School in 2007. She completed her pediatric residency and chief residency at CCHMC. Unaka also received formal training in quality improvement and obtained her Master’s of medical education from the University of Cincinnati in 2015.

Following residency, Unaka served as an attending staff physician during her chief residency year before joining the UC College of Medicine’s Department of Pediatrics in 2011. After spending two years as an instructor, she became an assistant professor at CCHMC in 2013. In 2018, she was promoted to associate professor. Named one of Cincinnati Magazine’s top doctors in 2021, Unaka served as the associate program director of the CCHMC Pediatric Residency Program from 2011-22.

Unaka devotes time working on institution-level health initiatives that reflect her passion for diversity, inclusion, and health equity. She co-leads the CCHMC Health Equity Network (HEN), which supports the equity-oriented improvement work of clinical teams across the institution.

Unaka is also the medical director of quality improvement for HealthVine, a network of pediatric care providers and organizations backed by Cincinnati Children’s that promotes children’s health, and aims to provide more effective and affordable care. HealthVine assumes accountability for care management, utilization management and quality improvement functions for approximately 120,000 Medicaid-covered children who reside in eight counties of Southwest Ohio.

The Harbor City, Calif., native was recognized with the YWCA Career Woman of Achievement award in 2023. A year earlier, she was the institutional nominee for the Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine Program and was formally accepted into the program this year. She also was awarded the Pediatric Hospital Medicine DEI Award.

Order of the O Award

The Order of the O Honorarium is given annually to an individual who has made a contribution to the University of Oregon Department of Intercollegiate Athletics over an extended period of time, but was not a varsity letterwinner at the UO.

For more than a quarter century, Kim Murray played a key role in raising $25 million in major gifts and donations for the Oregon Athletic Department before retiring to Bend in 2020.

She began her association with the Ducks in 1997 as the director of the Oregon Club of Portland and officially joined the Athletic Department in 2002 as the first female fundraiser within the Duck Athletic Fund (DAF). She spent the next 18 years on the DAF staff in Portland, first as the regional and senior director of development and later as an assistant athletic director.

Murray served in a crucial capacity within the DAF generating revenue through philanthropic support to ensure Oregon student-athletes had first-class experience in college athletics. She forged lasting relationships with Portland season ticketholders and DAF annual fund donors, out of which grew a robust major gift program. Success in the growth of scholarship support and capital project funding helped ensure the success of Oregon Athletics over the past two decades and beyond.

The Moshofsky Indoor Practice Facility had just been completed when Murray began her work for Oregon Athletics. The next 20 years saw profound changes in the department’s footprint with building projects like the Autzen Stadium expansion, Matthew Knight Arena, the Jaqua Academic Center, PK Park, the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex, the Marcus Mariota Sports Performance Center, Jane Sanders Stadium and Hayward Field’s renovation, all of which called for significant fundraising efforts.  Building a successful fundraising team in Portland was a high priority that required not only trained staff and team building oversite but also volunteer organizing. 

Tasked with this, Murray was personally credited with raising $25 million in philanthropic gifts during her tenure as the Portland community proved to be very important to the success and continued growth of Oregon Athletics. The donor-inspired bronze Duck throwing the “O” outside of Matthew Knight Arena was a special project Murray drove to completion.

She is particularly proud of being part of the DAF team that in 2014 initiated the Women in Flight program, which has currently raised more than $21 million from 2,000 donors supporting excellence for Oregon female student-athletes on and off the field.  This program is a trailblazer within intercollegiate athletics and one that many athletic departments across the country have worked to emulate.

The Great Falls, Mont., native graduated with honors from the University of Montana in 1976.