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Though this section is late in the manual, it is one of the most important. Too often, it is easy to neglect your own health in the AUH role (mental, physical, emotional, spiritual), which is very focused on working with others in various capacities. In the midst of the demands that you will face on a day-to-day basis, it will be important for you to take time to center yourself, take a breath or a walk, so that you can respond (not react) to the situations you will face. If you are not sure what to do, talk to a fellow AUH and/or talk to your Dean. JMU is a community, and your fellow AUHs can be the best source of information, advice and support out there. After all, they know that the AUH job will take as many hours as you are willing to give to it, so set your boundaries so that you can work toward a balance in your priorities at home and at work.

Advice from other AUHs

Take one day at a time. Get a sense of the shape of the academic year first and lay out important dates and deadlines. Figure out the most important things that must be done--scheduling, budgeting, etc.--and learn how to do those first. Get to know your support staff and work closely with them.

Talk to other academic unit heads, both in your college and outside. Recognize that you will make mistakes, but that most of them can be fixed, and to keep in mind your primary goals, including (but not limited to): to support the mission of the university, to create a great educational experience for students, to create an environment in which your faculty can flourish, and to serve as an advocate for those in your departmental community.

1] Keep lines of communication open in varied directions within and outside the unit. 2] Try to resist the temptation to take things too personally. 3] Find 1 or 2 other unit heads that you trust to serve as mentors and as pressure-release valves. Even experienced AUHs need a pressure-release valve -- both professionally and personally.

Make two to three friends with other AUHs. People that you trust and can go to for advice and mentorship. This is critical. Also, rarely does anyone need an answer right away. It's okay to think on something.

It takes a year to learn what the job entails. If you can hang on for a year, you can then start planning in the second year and anticipating deadlines.

Ask LOTS of questions! I've not met anyone that wasn't willing to help me. Everyone understands and is happy to help!

A list of AUHs is available online.

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