About the Honors Residential Commons
The Honors Residential Commons is a community of faculty, staff, and students who share a deep intellectual curiosity. This program offers freshman through senior–level university honors students and graduate students an interdisciplinary opportunity to capitalize on the rich history and tradition of Virginia Tech while living and learning with faculty and students in a unique and intentional environment. The HRC is led by a live–in faculty principal and supported by over thirty faculty, staff, and community members.
The Honors Residential Commons at East Ambler Johnston strives to engage a diverse community of students pursuing development of themselves, relationships with others, and the projection of their passions into the greater community with unwavering curiosity and a commitment to lifelong service and learning.
Narrative of the symbols and meanings of the house crest
The crest of the Honors Residential Commons at East Ambler Johnston was designed by a group of faculty, staff, and students in the spring of 2011. The Crest has five foregrounded symbols that sit upon the shield.
The Shield – The shield references the many Gothic arches found across the campus. It has a maroon-shaded border that meets the forest green bezel signifying the unity between the green of growth in the crest and the traditional maroon at Virginia Tech. The green throughout the design emphasizes that a learning community should be designed for vivification, balancing the rhythmic, seasonal cycles of tradition and the possibility that something new and auspicious will sprout in the right conditions.
The Original Crest – Placed over the east door in the original building, this floral cross-and-quarters is an ancient symbol found in various forms on every continent that represents the eternal cycles of life. For the Honors Residential Commons, its place at the bottom of the crest speaks to the way that the present is founded upon the past and how we are called to remember and appreciate those who have come before us.
The Tree – The tree references the stately beech trees that frame the east and north doors of the hall. Etymologically, "tree" and "truth" have a common root, which reminds us that just as the roots of a tree serve to nourish the whole, truth serves as the source of discovery and learning. A tree teaches patience and the wisdom of a long-term perspective on life and offers shelter to those in need. The roots anchor our community in the soil of a specific place and draw up nourishment from the rich ground of learning and scholarship we have inherited. The roots stretch in all four directions to acknowledge that humans learn and know through multiple intelligences and disciplines. The open horizon between earth and sky echoes the Honors motto, In Itinere Virtue (The Virtue Is In the Journey).
The Book and the Earth – All life comes from and goes back to the earth, and this cycle of reciprocity is suggested by the relation of the book to soil and to the tree. It happens that beech wood was used as a writing surface prior to the availability of paper in Europe, thus our word "book" is derived from the Old Norse and Old English "boc," or "beech." The paper in books comes from trees and reflects how the tree transforms the nutritive learning potential of the earth into knowing and being, in a perennial cycle.
The Cord – The cord forms a braid made up of three interwoven strands of learning that are expressed in our learning community – scholarship, creative activity, and service. It speaks to the unique weaving of the partnership between faculty, staff, and students. A careful eye will note that each individual cord is woven of smaller cords, suggesting the integrated and iterative way that each element of the college must remain faithful to ideals of the endeavor. The woven strands signify that a strength greater than the sum of its parts is created when our efforts are united. The weaving together of lives and elements of the college life remind us of the college’s residence hall 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 [Virginia Polytechnic Institute]."
The Stars and the Sky – Stars help us find our way. At the same time, they humble us and sensibly place us in the midst of a vast universe. These four stars tell of how the people in our community will "Know and Be Known." From their five points shine the five Aspirations for Student Learning: curiosity, self-understanding and integrity, civility, courageous leadership, and Ut Prosim. The ascending scale of their brightness suggests the way that a true education progressively reveals the brilliance and light in each person, while the change in size symbolizes the continuing presence in the community of students throughout their years at Virginia Tech.