Penn State

The Beta Theta Pi fraternity house where Penn State student Timothy Piazza was fatally injured in Feb. 2017.
Min Xian / WPSU

Penn State wants a court to help it buy a fraternity house where a pledge suffered fatal injuries during a night of drinking and hazing.

A lawsuit filed Monday argues that a 1928 deed gives the university the right to force the sale of the Beta Theta Pi property and house if it stops being used as a fraternity.

The school wants the price to be set by an arbitrator or another court-mandated process.

Penn State's THON Cancels Out-Of-Town Fundraising Trips

Nov 16, 2018
Dancers at THON.

The dance marathon’s public relations director, Maddy Hughes, cites safety concerns for students and volunteers for the fundraising changes.

“After just some recent events and renewed concerns around the safety of all the students and volunteers that were traveling, we decided to make the decision to cancel all fundraising that requires out-of-town travel for the rest of THON 2019,” Hughes said. 

Penn State Food Science Professor Catherine Cutter headed the study into farmers markets.
Maddie Biertempfel / WPSU

Eight years ago, Penn State Food Science Professor Catherine Cutter got a call that sparked a study into food safety at farmers markets.

"A colleague of mine was out and about and he calls me and he tells me 'There's a guy selling meat out of the back of his pickup truck in a cooler with product that is stamped "not for sale."' And it got us thinking, 'How many other people are doing this?'" Cutter said.

Now, the results of that five-year study find that vendors could do better.

Mimi Barash Coppersmith has left an undeniable imprint on State College, Pennsylvania. Whether from her publications like “Town and Gown,” her philanthropies like the Pink Zone, or her civic activities like serving as Penn State’s Board of Trustees chair, Mimi has been a fixture since her arrival as an undergraduate in 1950. 

Kate Staley, from Penn State's Counseling and Psychological Services, holds one of the Red Folders.
Maddie Biertempfel / WPSU

In efforts to mitigate mental health concerns, Penn State’s student government and Counseling and Psychological Services, or CAPS, collaborated to create the Red Folder Initiative.

It is what it sounds like: a bright red folder outlining three steps for faculty and staff concerned about a student’s mental health. First, recognizing indicators of distress; second, responding appropriately; and finally, referring the student to the appropriate campus resource.

The Penn State Concert Choir in rehearsal.
Kristine Allen / WPSU

On the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, France, Great Britain and Germany signed the Armistice.  It was an agreement that ended the fighting of WWI as a prelude to peace negotiations. 

On Sunday, the day of that centennial, the Penn State Concert Choir will perform “MEMORIA: A Cantata for the Centenary of the Armistice.”  It was written by composer Scott Eggert, who lives in Annville, Pennsylvania.

Eggert was commissioned to create this music especially for the Armistice anniversary.  He says he was free not just to write the music, but to choose his own texts.

The Beta Theta Pi fraternity house where Penn State student Timothy Piazza was fatally injured in Feb. 2017.
Min Xian / WPSU

Another former Beta Theta Pi fraternity member is going to trial in the case related to the hazing death of Penn State student Timothy Piazza. Braxton Becker, the house manager of the now-banned Beta Theta Pi, will go to trial facing three charges of tampering with evidence, obstruction and hindering apprehension, for allegedly deleting security camera footage of the house basement.

Penn State students from the Squirrel Hill neighborhood in Pittsburgh helped lead the candlelight vigil on Monday.
Min Xian / WPSU

Penn State is home to nearly 5,000 Jewish students and faculty members. Many have connections to Pittsburgh and its Tree of Life synagogue, where 11 people were killed by a gunman on Saturday.

Torey Josowitz grew up in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh. She greeted people arriving outside of Penn State’s Old Main building on Monday night, as the “Prayers for Pittsburgh” vigil began. 

Josowitz said she knows those who were shot and the families affected by the shooting.

Recent MacArthur Fellowship award-winner Dominique Morisseau.
John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Award-winning playwright, poet and performer Dominique Morisseau was recently named a recipient of the 2018 MacArthur Fellowship, also known as the genius grant, for her work bringing the lives of those on the margins to center stage. 

Morisseau has served as a co-producer and story editor for the Showtime series Shameless. She also worked with Penn State graduate theatre students to create Blood At the Root, a play inspired by the controversial "Jena Six" case. 

Penn State's Class Gift Campaign Announces Class Of 2019 Gift

Oct 29, 2018
Class Gift Campaign Executive Director Tom Beeby announces the Pollinators' Garden Entry Gate as the class of 2019's class gift.
Maddie Biertempfel / WPSU

Penn State’s Class Gift Campaign announced today the legacy the class of 2019 will leave on campus.

“I am un-bee-lievably happy to announce that the class of 2019 has chosen to support the pollinators garden entry gate.”

Tom Beeby is the executive director of the Class Gift Campaign. As a new addition to the arboretum, the garden will explain pollinators’ relationship to plants, and support pollinator research.

McCarthy and Epstein pose for a picture at an event for the National Institute for Civil Discourse
Reagan McCarthy / Penn State College Republicans

As the midterm elections draw closer, Americans seem more divided than ever. But Penn State seniors, roommates and best friends Reagan McCarthy and Katierose Epstein share a bond that crosses the aisle even in today’s polarized climate.

McCarthy is the president of the Penn State College Republicans and Epstein is the president of the College Democrats.

The women met in the spring of their freshman year on opposing sides of a debate between their clubs. The topic was federal funding of Planned Parenthood, and the encounter wasn’t exactly friendly.

Maddie Biertempfel / WPSU

While younger generations make up the majority of the electorate, they don’t always make it to the ballot box.

In the 2014 midterms, Gen Xers and Millennials cast 21 million fewer votes than older generations, according to Pew Research Center.

But for some Penn State students, like Matt Fisher, the choice to vote this November is easy.

“I’m planning on voting because I want to be represented in our government, and it’s how you make change in this country.”

Ann Tickamyer, professor of sociology at Penn State, was one of the presenters at the 26th National Symposium on Family Issues. She says there's a lack of good policy for rural families and communities.
Min Xian / WPSU

Nearly three and a half million Pennsylvanians live in rural parts of the state. In many ways, rural areas face challenges different than those in urban areas. Researchers gathered on Monday for the 26th National Symposium on Family Issues at Penn State’s Nittany Lion Inn, with a focus this year on rural families and communities.


On Friday, Oct. 19, 2018 in Harrisburg, Pa., Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf shakes hands with Jim Piazza after signing anti-hazing legislation inspired by the death of Piazza's son, Penn State student Tim Piazza.
AP Photo/Marc Levy

A bill designed to toughen penalties for hazing in Pennsylvania was signed into law on Friday by Governor Tom Wolf. The new law will make hazing resulting in serious bodily injury or death a third-degree felony.

Wolf said the commonwealth will now have one of the strongest anti-hazing laws in the country.

“It will ensure that our schools have safeguards in place to stop hazing and its students will have information they need to help make decisions about which organizations to join,” Wolf said.

In this file photo from March, Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman released the details of the "Timothy J. Piazza Antihazing Law" with the Piazza family and Penn State president Eric Barron.
Min Xian / WPSU

An anti-hazing law passed its final vote in the Pennsylvania state senate on Monday. The bill was approved unanimously and is now heading to the governor’s desk.

The Timothy J. Piazza Antihazing Law is named after Penn State student Tim Piazza, who died in 2017 from alcohol hazing. 

The new law will create tiers for hazing charges, which means hazing resulting in serious bodily injury or death would be a third-degree felony, with a prison sentence of up to seven years.

NextGen America, progressive advocacy group, says State College is one of the highest performing areas in terms of numbers of registered young voters. The group has been working to get young people to register and vote.
Photo courtesy of NextGen America


Since the Parkland shooting in February, there have been movements nationwide to energize young people to vote in this November’s midterm elections.


Jessica Maggio is a part of that movement. Recently, she stood outside of the HUB Robeson Center on Penn State’s University Park campus, attempting to strike up conversations with students streaming into and out of the building.

The Republican nominee for Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor, Jeff Bartos, held a town hall at Penn State on Monday.
Min Xian / WPSU

The Republican nominee for Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor, Jeff Bartos, held a town hall at Penn State on Monday.  

Dozens of students attended and raised questions on balancing the state budget and lowering taxes while maintaining social welfare programs. They also touched on issues including free speech on college campuses and sanctuary cities. The Q&A lasted about an hour.  

Penn State Outing Club Can Go Outside Again. But Not Too Far.

Sep 14, 2018
Christina Platt is president of the Penn State Outing Club.
Christina Platt

In April, a university review deemed the Penn State Outing Club's activities -- hiking and backpacking to name a few -- too dangerous. Campus recreation disbanded the club.

But now, the group has changed its designation from a club sport to a recognized student organization. They can go on outings again, but there are still limitations: No hiking farther than 50 miles from State College and no more overnight backpacking trips.

Club President Christina Platt said they’re making the best of the changes.

In this file photo, Jim Piazza spoke at a press conference regarding the case on the hazing death of his son Tim. The Piazzas and national Beta Theta Pi reached a settlement on Tuesday.
Min Xian / WPSU

The parents of Tim Piazza, who died after a night of hazing and drinking at Penn State's Beta Theta Pi chapter, have settled with the national fraternity, according to their lawyer.

The amount for which Jim and Evelyn Piazza settled with Beta Theta Pi is undisclosed, family attorney Thomas Kline said.

Beta Theta Pi has also agreed to a 17-point program to make chapters safer and penalize groups for hazing, he said, reforms that will "help establish a baseline for the new norm" of fraternity life.

The cast of "Results Will Vary*" during a summer preview performance in Eisenhower Auditorium.
Patrick Mansell / Penn State

Penn State students are back at the University Park campus. Last week, nearly 300 freshmen attended “Results Will Vary*,” a theatre performance that put a new spin on student orientation. The show explored issues students might face and resources the university has to support them.

The Piazzas at press conference
Min Xian / WPSU

Jim and Evelyn Piazza, the parents of Tim Piazza, gave an anti-hazing presentation to fraternity and sorority members at Penn State on Wednesday. They said their goal is to end the culture of hazing.

The Piazzas named their presentation, “Love, Mom & Dad.” They asked their audience in HUB Robeson Center's Freeman auditorium to imagine the painful loss of a child, as they recounted the details of how Tim was hazed and fatally injured in 2017.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro had asked that involuntary manslaughter charges be reinstated against fraternity members in the hazing death of Penn State student Tim Piazza.
Min Xian / WPSU

Both sides gave closing statements on Wednesday in the fourth preliminary hearing of the Penn State hazing case. All seven defendants face charges that had been dismissed by two districts judges earlier this year.

The charges were refiled by the attorney general’s office. Prosecutors allege these former fraternity brothers conspired and committed hazing, resulting in the death of pledge Tim Piazza.

In their closing arguments, defense attorneys said their clients had limited interaction with Piazza and had no knowledge of his injuries on bid acceptance night.

The Beta Theta Pi fraternity house where Penn State student Timothy Piazza was fatally injured in Feb. 2017.
Min Xian / WPSU

Update: 5:20 p.m.

A fourth preliminary hearing is underway in the case of the hazing death of Penn State student Timothy Piazza. A Centre County district judge will hear the prosecution's case and decide whether to send seven defendants to trial with new charges including involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment.

It takes at least 100 years for one inch of topsoil to form. In Pennsylvania, farmers are becoming increasingly interested in managing soil to produce healthier, more sustainable crops.

Take Note: New Book Explores "Evan Pugh's Penn State"

Aug 7, 2018

Dr. Roger Williams is the author of “Evan Pugh’s Penn State:  America’s Model Agricultural College.” It is the first book-length treatment of this mid-nineteenth century scientist-president who forged the nation’s first successful higher education institution dedicated to scientific agriculture -- what is now Penn State.

Williams served as Associate Vice President and Executive Director of the Penn State Alumni Association, the world’s largest, from 2003 to 2015 and as Affiliate Associate Professor in Penn State’s Higher Education Program.

Philip Masorti (second from right) spoke to reporters outside the courthouse after the sentencing of his client, Ryan Burke (right), on Tuesday.
Min Xian / WPSU

The first and, so far, only former Penn State fraternity member who pleaded guilty in the hazing death of Timothy Piazza was sentenced on Tuesday.

Ryan Burke, the “rush chair” who was in charge of recruitment for Penn State’s Beta Theta Pi fraternity, was sentenced to three months of house arrest, over two years of probation, 100 hours of community service and fines.

He pleaded guilty to nine counts of charges in hazing and alcohol violations, including giving vodka to 19-year-old Timothy Piazza, who died after a night of hazing in 2017.

State College borough planning director Ed LeClear in front of one of the houses sold through the Neighborhood Sustainability Program.
Emily Reddy / WPSU

It’s just a short walk from the municipal building in downtown State College where Ed LeClear works as borough planning director to a two-story brick house on Foster Avenue with a “For Sale” sign out front. The blocks surrounding it are full of apartment buildings and fraternities, but this block is mostly single-family homes.

The State College Borough’s Redevelopment Authority bought this house, removed the permit that allowed owners to rent it to students and is reselling it as a part of the Neighborhood Sustainability Program.

Penn State Frat Hazing Death Trial Scheduled For February

Jul 19, 2018
The Beta Theta Pi fraternity house where Penn State student Timothy Piazza was fatally injured in Feb. 2017.
Min Xian / WPSU

BELLEFONTE, Pa. (AP) — Members of a Penn State University fraternity charged in connection with the death of a pledge after a night of hazing and drinking are scheduled to go to trial early next year.

Centre County Judge Jonathan Grine set aside 20 days for the trial involving 21 members of the now-closed Beta Theta Pi fraternity, starting Feb. 6.

Defendants are accused of hazing, reckless endangerment and other offenses after the death last year of 19-year-old pledge Tim Piazza, of Lebanon, New Jersey.

Danielle Dormer at the WPSU studios.
Min Xian / WPSU

This episode of Take Note is part of "State of Emergency: Searching for solutions to Pennsylvania’s opioids epidemic." State of Emergency is a combined effort of newsrooms across the state to draw attention to programs, therapies and strategies that are actually showing promise in the fight against this public health crisis.

Don Voigt is a retired a research associate for Penn State’s Ice and Climate Exploration group. During his career, he logged 18 seasons in Antarctica, seven in Greenland and two in Alaska. We’ll talk with him about his research with the Penn State Ice and Climate Exploration, his experiences at the ends of the earth, and his advice for aspiring scientists.