In August, Virginia Tech welcomed approximately 800 students to its newest living-learning community, the Residential College at West Ambler Johnston.
West Ambler Johnston was closed for extensive renovations during the 2011-12 academic year.
The new residential college houses a variety of students, regardless of year, major, or honors status. Students are assigned to a specific house within the college — Hawthorn, Hickory, Holly, or Honey Locust, all trees that grow on the Virginia Tech campus — and each house is led by an associate faculty principal, who reports to the college’s live-in faculty principal.
Faculty fellows, selected from across the university and the community, participate in the daily life of the college. They assist the associate and faculty principals in creating an environment that is designed to be conducive to community building and student curiosity, creating a space where students can learn from one another as well as through many programs, events, and activities.
Part of this is achieved through the renovations and facilities upgrades undergone by both sides of Ambler Johnston. This includes air-conditioned rooms as well as common spaces including lounges, classrooms, meeting spaces, a theater, a library, and a fitness area. Residents of West Ambler Johnston share the common spaces with the residents of the Honors Residential College at East Ambler Johnston, which opened in fall 2011 and is open to University Honors students of all years and majors.
Another factor in the environment is the philosophy behind the residential college, which is that students can reap the advantages of smaller student-centered colleges while in a large research-oriented environment. The sense of a student-centered community is strengthened by students who choose to live in the residential college for more than one year, allowing different generations of students to practice guidance, mentorship, and to serve as leaders in the college.