Piazza Center announces inaugural research fellow

January 25, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The Timothy J. Piazza Center for Fraternity and Sorority Research and Reform at Penn State has announced Pietro Sasso as its inaugural research fellow. In this role, Sasso will lead and consult on research projects that will inform how professionals make a critical difference in the lives of fraternity and sorority students, chapters and communities.

Pietro Sasso

The Timothy J. Piazza Center for Fraternity and Sorority Research and Reform at Penn State welcomes Pietro Sasso as its inaugural research fellow.

IMAGE: Penn State

Sasso is an author, researcher and professor of higher education and student affairs at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. His research focuses on the college experience, student success and educational equity across cocurricular spaces. He has more than 15 years of professional and teaching experience in postsecondary education, and has written and co-edited seven textbooks, authored approximately 50 scholarly publications, and facilitated over 40 conference presentations. He serves as a reviewer for more than five journals, including the Journal of Student Affairs Research & Practice, and serves as senior coeditor for the text series "Identity & Practice in Higher Education-Student Affairs."

“Dr. Sasso is the ideal scholar to advance the Piazza Center’s work in creating safe and successful fraternities and sororities,” said Stevan Veldkamp, executive director for the Piazza Center. “As we are weeks away from students roaring back to in-person education, we cannot go back to a norm of hazardous drinking, hazing and sexual violence. Sasso’s work will investigate seminal research on prevention and what improves student organization accountability.”  

Sasso’s research explores the fraternity and sorority experience as a cocurricular student development and leadership opportunity for undergraduate students. He focuses on issues of equity, including race and class, as well as efforts to reduce harm, such as from instances of hazing and substance abuse. Sasso’s research has suggested there is gender performativity related to alcohol misuse and hazing as well as findings that the fraternity/sorority experience contributes to identity development for multiracial and other students across fraternity and sorority chapters. 

“My own undergraduate fraternity leadership experience was impactful and shaped the progression of my career as a researcher and professor,” said Sasso. “Now, as the progenitor research fellow I am excited I get the opportunity to connect with senior and emerging scholars to further our understanding of hazing and substance misuse, and to promulgate more positive developmental outcomes for one of the largest student involvement experiences in postsecondary education.”

Sasso is an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. He is the recipient of the Association of Fraternity and Sorority Advisors Dr. Charles Eberly Research Award, and was the American College Personnel Association (ACPA) Men and Masculinities Emerging Scholar-In-Residence from 2017-2019. Sasso received his doctorate in higher education from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, and his master’s degree in student affairs and counseling from University of Rochester, New York. He received his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Christopher Newport University, Newport News, Virginia.

Penn State launched the Piazza Center in January 2019, in an effort to become the nation’s principal home for identifying sound professional practice in fraternity and sorority advising. The center produces actionable data to give practitioners the evidence needed to enact significant change on their campuses and within their organizations. Since its inception, the Piazza Center has worked to empower higher education to make the fraternity and sorority experience safer and more meaningful based on comprehensive research. 

Last Updated January 27, 2021