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Our Community

Our Vision

First and foremost, the Residential College at West Ambler Johnston is a place where students belong, learn, and give. This multi-disciplinary, first-year through graduate level living-learning community, thriving with meaningful and sustained relationships among faculty, staff, students, and the worlds they pursue together, promote rich intellectual, cultural, and social context where students "know and are known." The residential colleges seek self-motivated, lifelong learners, with diverse interests, who will build a community of scholars in the spirit of Virginia Tech's motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve).

Our Space

The Residential College at West Ambler Johnston is housed in West Ambler Johnston Hall, an eight-story, air-conditioned building designed to facilitate intellectual and social interaction between students, faculty, and staff. Public spaces include a movie theater, small and large lounges, a library, a shared kitchen, classrooms, and an outdoor courtyard with grills and picnic tables. These spaces foster community and student well-being by providing safe and welcoming environments for shared work and play. Differences are celebrated: students in the Residential College work actively to “be together, not the same.”

Our Four Houses

Over 800 students make up the Residential College at West Ambler Johnston. To help create smaller, more meaningful communities, the college is divided into four houses. The four houses are Hawthorn, Hickory, Holly, and Honey Locust. Each house is named for a tree that grows in Virginia. We chose four trees that start with H in order to represent Virginia Tech's background as a land-grant institution and its ties to the 4-H Club and extension education.

West AJ logo

Our Crest

The coat of arms of the Residential College at West Ambler Johnston was designed by a group of faculty, staff, and students in the spring of 2012. It has five symbols in the foreground, over a four-quadrant background.

The shape of the shield incorporates the gothic arch seen in the architecture throughout Virginia Tech’s campus. The border in Chicago Maroon reflects Virginia Tech’s traditional colors. The darker blue bezel of the interior border represents knowledge and integrity. The background is composed of four quadrants, which represent the four houses in West Ambler Johnston. The lighter shades of blue symbolize the quest for understanding, wisdom, and truth. The use of progressive intensities of blue represents the process of change and growth. The quadrants of the shield, displaying varying color intensity and size, also remind us of our limestone-clad buildings, distinguishing Virginia Tech and reminding us we are part of a larger university community with a rich heritage.

The woven cord is the same cord that appears in the Honors’ Residential College Coat of Arms, representing the intertwined nature of these colleges. Not only do these communities share common space in the Ambler Johnston complex, but they share a common origin and history. The weaving together of lives and elements of the college life remind us of the residence hall’s namesake, J. Ambler Johnston, and his statement: “It’s our hope we may weave equally good threads into the fabric of the history of VPI.”

The crest contains a saltire, or diagonal cross and serves as the foundation of the coat of arms, anchoring the shield. It represents the solid, strong foundation of Ambler Johnston, on which progress and growth can flourish. The same crest stands watch over the west entrance to the Residential College.

The torch is the most prominent image in the coat of arms because it represents the essence of the college. It lights the way and guides students through their undergraduate experience at Virginia Tech. It also links the college with the history of the building because it replicates the torches that appear beside the original crest on Ambler Johnston hall. In the torch are four flames. These flames represent the motto “Know and be Known.” This is a fundamental purpose for creation of the college, reminding students of the importance of attaining self-understanding and integrity, and intentionally joining themselves to community. The varying sizes of the torch flames reflect the multi-generational nature of the college residents—first-years through graduate students. Finally, the torch also represents the passing of the Virginia Tech legacy from one group of students to the next.

The key represents the five Aspirations for Student Learning that guide the Division of Student Affairs. The particular key image shown represents the aspiration “Embrace Ut Prosim as a way of life.” It is a reminder that pursuing higher education is a remarkable privilege that carries a related responsibility, and that graduates should serve others and contribute to the world.

The vine, shown in the coat of arms climbing up the torch, represents personal, academic, and community growth. It reflects a continual pursuit of truth, knowledge, and justice. Nine leaves grow on the vine, representing the nine academic colleges at Virginia Tech. Finally, the vine illustrates the strong and lasting friendships built among members of the college.