Three to be honored at UNMC commencement May 4

Barry Gold, PhD, Kent Lacey, MD, and Michael Sitorius, MD

UNMC will honor three individuals with special awards at its May 4 Omaha commencement at 9 a.m. at Baxter Arena.

Barry Gold, PhD, emeritus professor and former chair of pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Pittsburgh, will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Science for achievement in the advancement of science and service in the health sciences fields.

Nebraskans Kent Lacey, MD, and Michael Sitorius, MD, will be honored with the J.G. Elliott Award for their significant contributions to medicine and health programs for the state of Nebraska. The honor is named for Jack Elliott, a longtime University of Nebraska regent who died in 1974.

The honorary doctorate is a homecoming for Dr. Gold, an esteemed scientist. Prior to his career at Pittsburgh, he spent more than 30 years at UNMC’s Eppley Institute for Research in Cancer and Allied Diseases and Eppley Cancer Center. At UNMC, Dr. Gold’s leadership was indispensable, both as a mentor to his fellow faculty members and as acting, then interim, director of the Eppley Institute at a crucial time.

Dr. Gold’s leadership of the Eppley Institute included establishing the foundation for building a strong program in DNA repair and the discussions that led to the founding of the Cattlemen’s Ball of Nebraska. In the decades since, the Cattlemen’s Ball has raised millions for cancer research and deepened UNMC’s outreach efforts to the state’s rural communities.

Dr. Lacey practiced family medicine in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, Jack Elliott’s hometown, for 37 years. Throughout his career, Dr. Lacey has been lauded for his mentorship of nursing and medical students and family medicine residents, as well as his caring manner.

In one especially memorable moment, Dr. Lacey made a reverse house call – while he had to stay home to watch his own kids, he invited a mother to bring her sick child to see him at his house. He recommended an ER visit for a spinal tap, which showed the young girl had meningitis.

Dr. Sitorius, a Cozad, Nebraska, native, meant to stay at UNMC for one year before going on to rural practice. Instead, over a 42-year career at UNMC, he’s arguably had as big an impact on rural health in the state of Nebraska as anyone in the past 40 years. The UNMC Department of Family Medicine under Dr. Sitorius’ leadership has had a role in training about 70% of Nebraska’s practicing family physicians. He has developed and overseen numerous initiatives to find potential medical students within Nebraska’s rural communities and see them return to the state’s rural areas as practicing physicians.


  1. Kelly Caverzagie says:

    Congratulations to all three recipients! I particularly want to give special acknowledgment to Dr. Sitorius for his many years of leadership at UNMC and for his exceptional mentorship of me, and countless others, over the course of my career. Thanks, Mike!

  2. Harold M Maurer, MD says:

    Congratulations to all recipients for their achievements in Nebraska

  3. Tom O’Connor says:

    A distinguished trio of honorees! Congrats to all! Special kudos to Dr. Sitorius, whose legendary career in rural health makes him one of UNMC’s all-time greats.

  4. Teri Mauch says:

    Congratulations to all, especially to Mike, one of the best diagnosticians I’ve met!

  5. Scott Maline says:

    Congratulations on a wonderful career. We are very proud of you and your accomplishments.

  6. Catherine MEllo says:

    Dr. Kent Lacey is an icon in western Nebraska’s medical community. He has positively impacted the lives of countless students and residents who now practice in rural areas and beyond. Dr. Lacey is one of his generation’s great physician-statesman. A well-deserved honor!

  7. Cindy Schroeder says:

    Congratulations to all 3 for serving Nebraska in the health field! Especially to Mike …. Impressive!

  8. Steve Gealy says:

    Congratulations on your stellar career and your contributions to medicine in Nebraska, Mike. You’ve made Cozad and your old buddies proud!

  9. Larry Rinehart says:

    Congrats Mike. You have made a huge impact in the family practice medical field. Awesome Haymaker

    1. Michael Sitorius says:

      Larry, Hello after all these years. Thank you for your kind words. Always comes down to the teamwork and working toward common goals-similar to our days back at CHS. I have not seen you for years but do hope you and your family are well. Take care. Mike

  10. Joyce Shaw says:

    Congratulations Michael Sitorius. This sister of yours is very thankful and proud of your accomplishments.
    Joyce Sitorius Shaw

  11. Kathy Wittler says:

    Congratulations, Mike, on a well deserved award.

  12. Debra Whitehead Nicolarsen says:

    Congratulations Mike! The Class of 70 is so proud of you. Of course we always knew that you would be amazingly successful, just as you were in basketball, football, track, and all of your scholastic studies. Nebraska benefited from your continuous dedication to rural medicine and you’re so deserving of this award.

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