STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Penn State is announcing plans for a national multidisciplinary research center on fraternities and sororities as part of an effort for change following the death of a fraternity pledge two years ago.
University officials pledged $2 million Tuesday for creation of the Timothy J. Piazza Center for Fraternity and Sorority Research and Reform, named after the student who died in 2017.
Private support and university-matching funds are to provide an $8 million endowment.
Piazza, a 19-year-old engineering student from Lebanon, New Jersey, participated in a series of drinking stations the night of Feb. 2, 2017, as well as a basement event involving rapid consumption of alcohol.
After he was found unconscious in the basement the next morning, it took his friends about 40 minutes to summon an ambulance, and he later died at a hospital.
Medical experts say he suffered a fractured skull and shattered spleen, and his blood-alcohol level has been estimated to have peaked at three or four times the legal limit for driving.
University president Eric Barron said the center will allow “study of best practices and assessment in fraternity and sorority life” and provide leadership “to compel the collective change required.”
Officials said it will build on the legacy of the Center for Fraternity and Sorority Research at Indiana University Bloomington, which is transferring to Penn State.
During the incident, the Beta Theta Pi frat house’s elaborate video security system recorded him stumbling to a couch on the first floor before falling down the steps. He was carried back upstairs, and spent the night in evident pain, most of it on the couch as fraternity brothers took ineffective and even harmful steps to address his condition.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)