Black and White Photo of Dr. Robert Beavers

William Robert Beavers, M.D., a renowned clinician, teacher, and researcher, passed away on October 24, 2019, at age 90.

Dr. Beavers left a lasting impact on the medical progress of our community through his generous contributions and commitment to the well-being of families everywhere.

A lifetime of family devotion

Family was a cornerstone of Dr. Beaver’s life. In his early years, Dr. Beavers grew up on a farm in Hillsboro, Texas. Although he was offered a scholarship to Rice University, he remained in Hillsboro to support his family and instead attended Hillsboro Junior College. After he graduated, he began his medical education; the beginning of a journey that led to years of support for other families.

Dr. Beavers graduated from UT Southwestern Medical Center in 1953. After interning at Wayne County General Hospital in Eloise, Michigan, and spending several years in the Arctic conducting research for the Air Force, he eventually returned to Texas as an assistant pharmacology professor at the University of Texas. Afterwards, Dr. Beavers came back to UT Southwestern, becoming an assistant professor of psychiatry following his residency in 1963.

Driving progress through research and generosity

The majority of Dr. Beavers’ career was spent addressing the mental health needs of families with an unparalleled compassion and dedication. He is most well known for developing the Beavers Systems Model of Family Assessment, a tool for assessing the overall health and functionality of a family. The Beavers System Model of Family Assessment has sustained a lasting impact on family psychiatry. As of December 2019, it has been cited in more than 20,000 publications.

Beyond his academic contributions to the medical field, Dr. Beavers made far-reaching investments in the health of others. Dr. Beavers established a generous charitable remainder unitrust at Southwestern Medical Foundation. His gift created created the W. Robert Beavers, M.D., FAPA Fund for Family Studies, which supports directors at UT Southwestern’s Family Studies Center. The Family Studies Center was originally founded by Dr. Beavers in 1973 as the Southwest Family Institute, a nonprofit counseling center.

The center eventually became a division of UT Southwestern’s Department of Psychiatry. Today, the center provides therapy for individuals, couples, and families, and serves as a training facility for mental health professionals.

Early in my career I recognized that there were many patients who were falling through the cracks—financially and emotionally. Their mental health needs, and the needs of their families, simply weren’t being met by traditional counseling. It became obvious to me that they needed something more and that we in the psychiatric community needed to find a way to better serve those in crisis. Out of that void came the Family Studies Center, which has made the complex interplay between clients and their families its focus.

Dr. William Robert Beavers

A charitable trust is one of the ways you can leave a lasting legacy. To learn more, please click here. You may also contact Randal Daugherty, Director of Planned Giving, UT Southwestern Medical Center, at (214) 648-3069 or email him at

Read Dr. Beavers’ Obituary

Read more about Dr. Beavers’ $1.3 million gift