Dr. Mattox is Always Looking for a Better Way

Mattox SchoolPLAINVIEW – Stepping onto the college campus as a young man, the future was wide open for Kenneth Mattox. Religion, music and ministry were the focus of his pursuits, and an interest in the International Choir at Wayland Baptist College in the late 1950s drew him to the small West Texas school, not too far from his New Mexico home. But like so many college students, Mattox found a new passion.

“Picture yourself as a freshman student at Wayland, getting the math courses and science courses out of the way,” Mattox said at a luncheon honoring him for his contributions to the university. “Suddenly you have an abrupt epiphany that you liked those subjects, and you were not on the right conveyor belt.”

Looking back, Mattox said it took a lot of courage to jump off the conveyor that was taking him in the wrong direction, but he did it. Developing a love for science and an undying passion for learning, Mattox dove into the pursuit of science, completing his undergraduate degree then studying at the Baylor College of Medicine under some of the most renowned surgeons of the day. Mattox eventually built a career with an impressive, if not unequaled, list of accomplishments and recognitions.

At 83 and officially retired — sort of ­— Mattox, a 1960 Wayland graduate, says he owes his career and success to a challenge he accepted all those years ago in a Wayland classroom.

“What I learned in that building is that there is always a better way,” Mattox said.

That search for a better way led Dr. Mattox to envision changes in healthcare and innovations in surgical procedures. It also led him to invest in the education of future generations and to give back to his alma mater. Speaking at a ceremony to name Wayland’s School of Mathematics and Sciences after him and to break ground on a new addition to the science building, Dr. Mattox challenged Wayland and its students to continue the search for a better way.

“I suggest to the Board of Trustees of Wayland Baptist University and the planners that [this new building] is far too small,” Mattox said. “There is always a better way and finding it requires innovation. Prepared minds come out of institutions like this one.”

Mattox said it is important to continue to ask questions and challenge normal beliefs. He said that when he graduated from Wayland in 1960, many things that are commonplace in healthcare today, such as emergency medical systems, ambulances, vascular surgery, thoracic surgery, CT scans and cancer treatments, did not exist. He said in another 60 years people will be looking back on 2022 astounded at the accomplishments and advancements that have been made in medical care.

Mattox shared a vision of telemedicine to treat inhabitants of colonies on the moon or mars, drones that act as ambulances with onboard robotics that can conduct on-site surgeries led by technicians in a laboratory, or other fantastic advancements that can only be realized through education. An education, he says, that should come from schools like Wayland.

“It’s because we stimulate the mind to say, ‘where is the evidence,’ and ‘there has got to be a better way,” he said. “We create new ways to do new things. And that’s the value of an education.”



Pictured above: Dr. Kenneth L. Mattox speaks to the crowd at the naming ceremony and groundbreaking for the Kenneth L. Mattox School of Mathematics and Sciences at Wayland Baptist University. Dr. Mattox graduated from Wayland in 1960.