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A Breath of Legacy

Colorado Mesa University Honors Dr. Joel Bechtel with PA Program Naming Ceremony

Colorado Mesa University proudly celebrated the naming of its Physician Assistant Program in honor of the late Dr. Joel Bechtel, MD, a revered community leader and trailblazing physician whose visionary contributions transformed the medical landscape in western Colorado.

Bechtel, a respected figure in both medicine and community advocacy, left an indelible mark on the region by establishing the first pulmonary practice in western Colorado in 1980. His enduring commitment to excellence and unwavering dedication to community service positioned him as a stalwart donor and volunteer at CMU.

The ceremony, held at St. Mary's Medical Education Center, was attended by members of CMU's Board of Trustees and various dignitaries. It paid tribute to Bechtel's legacy and recognized his pivotal role as the visionary and catalyst in establishing the Master of Physician Assistant Program at CMU.

The late physician's plaque, unveiled at the ceremony, encapsulates the essence of Bechtel's contributions. It in part reads, “This program stands as a testament to Dr. Bechtel's values; a program that mirrors his commitment to excellence as a gifted physician and caring provider who was deeply devoted to serving the community.”

The newly named Bechtel Physician Assistant Program will carry forward Bechtel's legacy, embodying his values and dedication to excellence. The program reflects his vision of producing highly skilled and compassionate healthcare professionals who are deeply connected to their communities.

As the Bechtel Physician Assistant Program continues to flourish, it serves as a living tribute to a remarkable individual whose vision and dedication have left an enduring legacy in the hearts and minds of the Colorado Mesa University community.


Written by Madelynn Fellet