Burns chosen to lead Admissions Committee

By Lin Lofley

Dr. Dennis Burns

Dr. Dennis Burns, Professor of Pathology, has been named to lead the Admissions Committee of UT Southwestern Medical School.

Dr. Burns, a member of the faculty since 1983, will lead a committee that is responsible for evaluating the large number of applicants seeking admission to the Medical School.

“We meet every Thursday night for a detailed review of the files of candidates interviewed for positions in the next entering class,” said Dr. Burns, himself a 1978 graduate of the Medical School. “It’s always been impressive to me the number of people on the faculty who want to join us in evaluating the many bright, deserving young people we read about in those files.”

Each applicant invited for an interview at UT Southwestern has an extensive file that contains information relevant to the application, including grades, test scores, letters of recommendation, and the reports of two interviewers who have met independently with the candidates the previous Saturday. That data receives a thorough review by a committee member, after which the full committee makes its decision. 

“We’re trying to make the process run as effectively as we can,” Dr. Burns said. “We’re interested in evaluating each candidate fairly, in identifying key competencies in the applicants, and in using our own time efficiently. I couldn’t be prouder of the people I get to work with in this effort.”

After the data of nearly 4,000 applicants were sifted through last year, 829 college seniors were interviewed on campus by 169 interviewers. Those discussions began early in the fall semester. Interviews are under way now for the Class of 2017 and will continue into 2013. About 230 medical student spots are available.

There’s a certain labor-of-love aspect to Dr. Burns’ participation. On the walls of his office in the Dan Danciger Research Building hang 24 plaques, the teaching awards voted on by UTSW medical students over the years.

“I became interested in teaching while I was an undergraduate in the chemistry department at Baylor University,” Dr. Burns said. “I found teaching others was an effective learning tool for myself, and it has become a very important catalyst for me to continue my own education in my professional life.

“In medical school and into residency, I initially thought I’d become a practitioner in private practice, but I came to realize that teaching was as important as anything I did.”


Dr. Burns holds the Jane B. and Edwin P. Jenevein, M.D., Chair in Pathology.