About the Piazza Center
History of the Piazza Center
The Timothy J. Piazza Center for Fraternity and Sorority Research and Reform was formed at Penn State in January 2019. The multidisciplinary research center was named in the memory of Timothy Piazza, a sophomore at Penn State who died in February 2017 during pledging activities at the now permanently banned Beta Theta Pi chapter.
Since 2017, Penn State has undertaken a series of aggressive measures to overcome challenges in its Greek-letter community related to hazing, the misuse of alcohol, sexual assault, and overly large and disruptive social events. The Piazza Center extends these local efforts by providing the scholarship required to study and learn from them, but 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.
The new center builds upon the legacy of the Center for Fraternity and Sorority Research, which was located at Indiana University Bloomington since 1979 and was transitioned to Penn State in 2019.
What makes the Piazza Center Unique
There are numerous studies of the size, shape, and extent of problems facing fraternities and sororities. However, there is little evidence related to professional practice. Learning how institutions move from identifying the problem to creating chapter, community, and cultural change is critical to the future of fraternity and sorority life.
The Piazza Center seeks to build on and amplify professional practice that changes the hearts and minds of students, alumni, headquarters, and campuses by studying the efficacy of how practitioners advise chapters differently, change campus policies, and implement educational programs to create change. The Piazza Center seeks to learn about professional practice that is shifting student behavior and chapter culture and determine how institutions can replicate that work.
The Piazza Center not only disseminates best practices but also consults to help campus professionals implement change. The National Scorecard is an accountability process for campuses and headquarters to gauge their progress and benchmark against peers. The scorecard also provides a searchable database where the public and parents can search to find campuses, chapters, and headquarters they may or may not want to join.