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January 22, 2019

Two years after hazing death, Penn State launches multimillion-dollar, Greek life research center

A research center studying Greek life is opening at Pennsylvania State University, named after Timothy Piazza, a fraternity pledge who died during a night of hazing almost two years ago, in February 2017 at the age of 19.

The Timothy J. Piazza Center for Fraternity and Sorority Research and Reform received a $2 million pledge from Penn State officials Tuesday, aiming to help the center in examining and implementing change in the campus' Greek life culture.

RELATED: New Pennsylvania legislation would enforce stricter penalties for hazing following Penn State fraternity death

“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,” Penn State president Eric Barron said in a statement.

The first Center for Fraternity and Sorority Research was located at Indiana University, created in 1979. That institution is dissolving, but its research will now continue over to the new Penn State center.

According to officials, the center will take a multi-disciplinary approach to research, recruiting a faculty member to focus on student life, specifically fraternity and sorority experiences, in college.

Since Piazza's death, Pennsylvania legislation has implemented stricter guidelines on reporting hazing incidents, titled the Timothy J. Piazza Anti-Hazing Law. The fraternity Piazza was pledging on the night of his death, Beta Theta Pi, also has been banned by Penn State in the wake of the incident.

In addition to the $2 million pledged by Penn State for the new center, an additional $3 million was added to match private funds raised. Officials hope to establish an $8 million endowment, according to the Washington Post.

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