SALT LAKE CITY — Two University of Utah professors — a married couple — were honored with the U.'s most prestigious award during commencement ceremonies last week.

Kathleen B. Digre, professor of neurology and ophthalmology, and Michael W. Varner, professor of obstetrics and gynecology, were honored at commencement ceremonies with the Rosenblatt Prize for Excellence. The $40,000 gift, which is presented annually to a faculty member who displays excellence in teaching, research and administrative efforts, will be shared for the first time by two individuals.   

University of Utah President David W. Pershing made the final selection and said, “This year we found it impossible to choose one over the other. Kathleen and Michael are both extraordinarily gifted teachers, dedicated and proficient administrators, and are internationally regarded as two of the foremost researchers and leaders in their fields. The university community is enhanced by their work, and it a distinct pleasure to bestow this honor on them.”    

Digre received an M.D. from the University of Iowa and has been a member of the U. faculty since 1987. Through her efforts, the U. is one of a few institutions in the world with certified fellowship-training programs in neuro-ophthalmology, a medical sub-specialty focusing on brain problems that affect vision.  

Varner received an M.D. from the University of Minnesota Medical School and joined the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the U. in 1987, where he is currently that department’s vice-chair for research.