Penn State Starts Center to Study Campus Greek Life
To study campus fraternities and sororities across the nation, Pennsylvania State University is pledging $2 million towards the establishment of a new research center.
The Timothy J. Piazza Center for Fraternity and Sorority Research and Reform, named after Penn State sophomore Tim Piazza who died in February 2017 during Beta Theta Pi chapter pledging activities, will conduct research on transforming the Greek life experience of students on college campuses.
“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,” said Penn State president Eric Barron.
“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.”
The university is planning to create an endowment of at least $8 million by raising $3 million in private support and matching the same amount with university funds. The new center will provide scholarships to study the challenges faced in the Greek-letter community related to hazing, the misuse of alcohol, and sexual assault, among others.
The center will also host national conversations on topics concerning Greek-life and develop and manage a national scorecard on fraternities and sororities.
“The new center at Penn State will benefit from a significant endowment to initiate new multidisciplinary research and education initiatives and fill a major void in the field for knowledge and best practices information,” said Damon Sims, vice president for Student Affairs at Penn State.
“This is a profound development that over time will help universities develop and refine Greek-life initiatives with the benefit of far greater knowledge and research than has been available in this field,” Sims added.
In 2018, various colleges and universities banned sororities and fraternities accused of violating policies on their campuses. In October 2018, the University of Iowa suspended nine fraternities for violating the ban on alcohol at Greek parties.