Penn State University officials have announced the creation of the Timothy J. Piazza Center for Fraternity and Sorority Research and Reform (Piazza Center) and pledged at least $2 million toward its establishment.
There will be a fundraising campaign aimed at raising $3 million in private support, with the promise of an additional $3 million in matching funds from Penn State.
The center is named in memory of Timothy Piazza, a sophomore at Penn State who died in February of 2017 during pledging activities at its Beta Theta Pi chapter. That fraternity is now permanently banned.
The Piazza Center looks to provide the scholarship required to study and learn from challenges face in the Greek-letter community and also to develop and manage a national scorecard on fraternities and sororities, host national conversations on these topics, collect and distribute best practices, and sponsor original research that will inform practice in this field.
Until now, The Center for Fraternity and Sorority Research has been located at Indiana University Bloomington since 1979. They are in the process of transferring that center to Penn State.
In a release from Penn State, University President Eric Barron said, “Universities have been operating in a void and missing critical information, such as a consistent and cumulative nationwide look at Greek life on our campuses,” he continued, “With the creation of the Timothy J. Piazza Center for Fraternity and Sorority Research and Reform, university leaders will now have a dedicated center for the study of best practices and assessment in fraternity and sorority life across the country. The Piazza Center will provide an essential leadership role to compel the collective change required.”
That same release quoted Timothy Piazza’s father, Jim. “We are pleased that Penn State is taking the lead in Greek-life reforms and cultural change with the creation of the Piazza Center as we approach the two-year anniversary of the death of our son Tim, as a result of the reckless and irresponsible behavior of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity,” said Jim Piazza. “We are also grateful that President Eric Barron has followed through on his commitment to us to make meaningful, positive change and to enhance transparency to protect our children who choose the Greek-life experience at Penn State and at college campuses throughout the country. We know these changes required making many tough decisions and we applaud him for staying the course. We are grateful for Tim’s legacy to live on at Penn State and through the Timothy J. Piazza Memorial Foundation.”