Bridge Program

The Bridge Program

The University of Arkansas (UA) is committed to supporting the success of all faculty members.  Paramount to fulfilling this commitment is the Bridge Program, an onboarding and mentoring program design to attract, welcome, and retain new faculty as well as not-so-new faculty. The program consists of two components: a workshop series for new faculty offered in the Fall by the Office of Faculty Affairs, and a recommended protocol that departments can use to form individualized mentoring teams for newly arrived faculty.


To empower, support the academic success, and create “equal access to the benefits associated with quality mentoring” for all faculty, and especially faculty from historically underrepresented groups and other under-served faculty by (1) Implementing a comprehensive approach to mentoring, and (2) Providing resources and institutional support.


Studies have shown that underrepresented faculty, including diverse women faculty in STEM fields, feel under supported and isolated.

  • At the assistant professor level, only 28% of the faculty in the STEM fields are women, including women of color. This decreases with rises in rank.
  • The number of historically underrepresented women and men faculty across the tenure track ranks is around 4%.

What the Bridge Program offers 

The Bridge Program uses the best practice approach to provide an innovative and comprehensive teams-based method to faculty mentoring.  The Bridge Program assists departmental leadership, mentors, and mentees with program implementation and the necessary resources to unburden program participants and ensure quality experiences. Mentees will be asked to participate in faculty development workshops.  Mentors will be asked to attend mentor training and schedule regular meetings with their mentees. We ask that in return, this commitment is seen as counting towards departmental service requirements. Specifically, the Program offers:

  • Support through an individualized Mentoring Team of preferably three faculty mentors that aids the new faculty in getting connected to the department and assists with resources from before they arrive through their first year in residence. In year two, faculty may choose to continue, reformulate, or disband their committee depending upon their needs.

Getting Involved

If you are a new faculty member and would like to be involved in the Bridge Program, ask your chair/department head/director if your department has been enrolled. If not, reach out to and we will connect with your unit leader. 

If you are a unit leader and are interested to learn more about the program, reach out to to setup a meeting.

Key Bridge Program Elements

There are four groups of people involved in the program:

  1. Unit Leaders (e.g. chair, head, or director). The unit leader reaches out to the faculty before arrival, appoints a chair for the mentoring committee, and confirms that the full committee is formed and meets. It is also recommended that the unit leader reviews the success plan formulated by the faculty member with the mentoring committee.
  2. Mentor Team Chair. The chair works with the new faculty member to select a mentoring team.
  3. Mentor Team Members. Typically, the team includes a member who has recently gone through the same promotion process that the new faculty member will undergo. In addition, it may be helpful to include a committee member from outside the department.
  4. New Faculty. Each new faculty member is encouraged to work with their committee to form:
    1. Success Plan: a concrete plan to achieve their professional goals for their first several years at the University of Arkansas.
    2. Mentoring Map: a list of colleagues who can assist with different dimensions of their professional life (e.g. networking, constructive feedback on teaching or scholarship, access to award nominations and other opportunities, etc.)

The following files and descriptions are the way the Bridge program was designed, but individual units might apply parts or altered versions of this program.

Once your offer letter is signed, the unit leader will connect you with a team of 2-3 mentors, who form your Mentoring Team. This team, together with the Incoming Faculty Resources (AppendixE)(PDF) is designed to help you get connected and prepared for your first semester/year. The Bridge program provides workshops during the fall semester to aide in this process by connecting you with peers as well as valuable campus resources (contact for more information).

During your first semester we recommend you start creating your Success Plan (AppendixFa)(DOC), which is to be discussed with your mentors and unit leader. We also encourage you to fill out the Mentoring Map (AppendixFb)(PDF), to start identifying where you might have gaps.

Please join us in the Fall for our Bridge Mentor Introduction Workshop and keep an eye out for invitations from the Bridge Team to other workshops focusing on different aspects of successful mentoring strategies.

The Mentoring Team

You are assigned as a mentor to an incoming faculty member, shortly after they sign their offer letter, this initial process is called pre-boarding. The Mentoring Team PreBoarding Checklist (Appendix C)(PDF) outlines the suggested steps to take before the new faculty member arrives to campus. As the new faculty member might not know what to as, the Discussion Topic List (Appendix D)(PDF) gives you topics that could be relevant to discuss. After having communicated with your mentee, the Mentoring Team Agreement Template (Appendix H)(PDF) is designed to fill out with your mentee to make sure your expectations are aligned. Once the new faculty member arrives, you transition to the on-boarding phase and the Mentoring Team OnBoarding Checklist(Appendix I)(PDF) has a suggested timeline for the first semester.

Once a new faculty member has signed their offer letter, the pre-boarding process starts, use the PreBoarding Checklist (Appendix A)(PDF) to get the process started. The first step is to assign 2-3 Mentoring Team members, and each should receive a Mentoring Team Appointment Letter (Appendix B)(PDF) to formalize their role and commitment. This should take place in the weeks to months before the faculty member arrives on campus. Please communicate both the new faculty name as well as the assigned mentors with so we can send invitations to the Bridge mentee/mentor workshops.

Once they arrive on campus and the on-boarding process starts, the OnBoarding Checklist Semester One (Appendix G)(PDF) outlines suggested steps for the first semester and the OnBoarding Checklist Semester Two (Appendix J)(PDF) for the second semester.