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History of the Piazza Center 

The Timothy J. Piazza Center for Fraternity and Sorority Research 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. 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. 


The idea of a fraternity and sorority research center goes back to 1976. A convening of higher education and fraternity leadership identified the goal of creating a national agenda for fraternities and sororities. The effort was led by Indiana University Chancellor Herman Wells, Dean of Students’ Robert Shaffer, and a commission formed to create a national strategic plan for the 200th anniversary of the founding of the “college fraternity.” The agenda, speeches and subsequent book, Fraternity for the Year 2000, created a pathway for the future of the college fraternity (and sorority) on the exact date of the founding of Phi Beta Kappa Fraternity. The proceedings included a call for the creation of a fraternity and sorority research center.

The Center and research agenda was developed by leaders representing The Fraternity Executive Association (FEA) and North-American Interfraternity Conference (NIC). Select fraternity headquarters (below) supported the original Center for the Study of the College Fraternity. The original charter informs our focus, integrity, and current research agenda. In 1979, the Center was incorporated as a non-profit 501C3.

Fraternity Executive Association

  • T.J. Schmitz, Tau Kappa Epsilon, FEA Chairman
  • Alfred Sheriff, Delta Tau Delta
  • Ken Tracy, Sigma Alpha Epsilon
  • William Schwartz, Sigma Alpha Mu

North-American Interfraternity Conference

  • Jack Anson, NIC Executive Director
  • James McLaughlin, Zeta Psi
  • Sidney Guller, Sigma Alpha Mu
  • Bates Block, Chi Phi

Initial Donors to the Center

  • Alpha Chi Rho
  • Alpha Epsilon Pi
  • Alpha Sigma Phi
  • Alpha Tau Omega
  • Beta Theta Pi
  • Chi Phi
  • Chi Psi
  • Delta Kappa Epsilon
  • Delta Sigma Phi
  • Delta Tau Delta
  • Delta Upsilon 
  • Lambda Chi Alpha
  • Phi Gamma Delta
  • Phi Kappa Psi
  • Phi Kappa Theta
  • Phi Sigma Kappa
  • Pi Kappa Alpha
  • Pi Kappa Phi
  • Psi Upsilon
  • Sigma Alpha Epsilon
  • Sigma Alpha Mu
  • Sigma Chi
  • Sigma Nu
  • Sigma Phi Epsilon
  • Sigma Tau Gama
  • Tau Epsilon Phi
  • Tau Kappa Epsilon
  • Theta Chi
  • Triangle

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.