Donor gift purchases final equipment needed for University Heights composting facility

May 5, 2020

Dr. Leslie Petteys, a retired professor of music at Marshall, made a $50,000 gift to support and finalize the purchase of an anaerobic digester for University Heights, the university’s new composting facility. Because of her generous donation, University Heights will now be fully operational by July 2020.

Located off Route 60 in Huntington, University Heights will allow Marshall University to be approximately 70% waste free. In addition to providing job and internship opportunities for Marshall students and community members, the composting facility will collect and recycle organic waste from the university’s Huntington campus to compost and reuse on campus grounds.

Marshall University’s Sustainability Department has secured an underdeveloped, 60-acre land tract that is 4.5 miles from the Huntington campus to construct the compost, hydroponic and greenhouse facility. The facility will also be used as a laboratory space for the Specialty Agriculture major that is currently being developed through the Natural Resources and Environment Departments in the College of Science.

“I am so impressed that Marshall has a Sustainability Department,” Petteys said. “I applaud Lauren Kemp and Eve Marcum Atkinson for the pioneering work they did to get it off the ground. Amy Parsons-White has definitely taken the department to the next level and I am impressed by the initiatives she has instituted. I can’t wait to see how else Marshall and the Sustainability Department create many more firsts in the state and region.”

“Since my college days, I have been interested in green initiatives, gardening and recycling. I think the composting project, the new agriculture degree, and other trainings and partnerships the Sustainability Department and Marshall are creating will have a great impact, making this corner of the world more sustainable self sufficient and setting a great example for other communities.”

Amy Parsons-White, sustainability manager, is grateful for individuals like Petteys and Tom Wolf, who have made generous contributions to make this project a reality.

“I am thankful for the support I have received from President Gilbert, the Huntington and the Marshall communities. The compost facility will put us one step closer to our goal of being waste free by 2025. It’s an ambitious goal, but it’s one we can accomplish,” Parsons-White said.

The university’s new composting facility was announced in November 2019, and with this last piece of equipment secured, the fully functional facility will hold up to eight cubic yards of waste at a time and can be harvested daily. The compost will be finished in a 5’ x 40’ worm bin, which will hold 50,000 red wiggler worms. Compost produced by the worms will be harvested twice a week and will be the finished product that will be used on the Huntington campus and sold to the public.

For more information about University Heights or other projects within the Sustainability Department, contact Parsons-White at parsons133@marshall.edu.