Back to top

Paths to Excellence

Paths to Excellence
The Dell Medical School and Medical Education in Texas

An inspiring account of how the Dell Medical School came into being at the University of Texas at Austin more than 125 years after the campus was established

Series: The University of Texas Health Press

December 2021
Add to cart
288 pages | 6 x 9 |

For more than a century, medical schools and academic campuses were largely separate in Texas. Though new medical technologies and drugs—conceivably, even a vaccine instrumental in the prevention of a pandemic—might be developed on an academic campus such as that of the University of Texas at Austin, there was no co-located medical school with which to collaborate. Faculty members were left to seek experts on distant campuses. That all changed on May 3, 2012, when the UT System Board of Regents voted to create the Dell Medical School in Austin.

This book tells in detail and for the first time the story of how this change came about: how dedicated administrators, alumni, business leaders, community organizers, doctors, legislators, professors, and researchers joined forces, overcame considerable resistance, and raised the funds to build a new medical school without any direct state monies. Funding was secured in large part through the unique willingness of the local community to tax itself to pay for the financial operations of the school. Kenneth I. Shine and Amy Shaw Thomas, who witnessed this process from their unique vantages as past and present vice chancellors for health affairs in the University of Texas System, offer a working model that will enable other leaders to more effectively seek solutions, avoid pitfalls, and build for the future.


Kenneth I. Shine, MD, Professor of Medicine at the Dell Medical School, served the University of Texas System as Executive Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs from 2003 to 2013, where he was responsible for its six health components and helped establish two new medical schools. He was also president of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and dean and provost at UCLA.

Amy Shaw Thomas, JD, Senior Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs with the University of Texas System in Austin, is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of UT Austin with a Doctorate of Law from the UT School of Law. She helped establish three new medical schools at UT and is an active community leader in Austin.


“This is the compelling story of how one of America's great universities, civic leaders, the private sector, and an entire community came together to support the creation of a new medical school to meet the health challenges of the twenty-first century.”
Darrell Kirch, MD, President Emeritus of the Association of American Medical Colleges

Paths to Excellence is both an exquisitely detailed history of medical education within the University of Texas System since 1883 and a wonderfully crafted record of the more recent build-out of medical education in Austin that resulted in the establishment of the Dell Medical School in 2012. It shines a spotlight on the leaders who made it all happen. Ken Shine and Amy Shaw Thomas give us an extraordinarily important scholarly work that will be studied by students and scholars for generations to come. This is a must-read for all who cherish the University of Texas and its commitment to the pursuit of excellence.”
Steve Leslie, PhD, Provost, UT Austin 2007–2013

“As our guides on the path to how the Dell Medical School was established, Ken Shine and Amy Shaw Thomas share an important and in-depth perspective on the original vision, opportunities, and challenges faced along the way. They profile the many individuals in Texas who played pivotal roles in garnering support from the state legislature, Seton Healthcare Family, and philanthropists to secure approval for the medical school from UT’s Board of Regents.”
Francisco Cigarroa, MD, Chancellor, University of Texas System 2009–2015

“As the economy in Texas evolves and Central Texas becomes a hub of innovation, the University of Texas System in Austin helps lead the way in the fields of medical devices and technologies. The effort to make the Dell Medical School a reality was just the beginning of this new opportunity. Paths to Excellence chronicles the hard work of the many visionary leaders who overcame substantial hurdles in working together to make this happen, and the lessons learned here can be applied to all our future endeavors in improving health care for everyone.”
Pete Winstead, Attorney and Founding Shareholder of Winstead PC Law Fir