Southeast Missouri State University graduate Justin A. Buck joined Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity at Southeast in the fall of 1995. Just shy of 15 years later, Justin is now the head of the entire international organization.
Justin graduated from Southeast in December 1999 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree, major in finance and minor in accounting. In 2009, he became the executive vice president and CEO of The Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity, an international brotherhood composed of more than 245,000 initiated members. Justin oversees 226 undergraduate chapters and colonies and 175 alumni associations. He is just the 11th chief executive in Pi Kappa Alpha’s 142-year history.
“It has been a great first year,” he says. “As an organization, we just wrapped up one of the best years in our fraternity’s history and are on pace to do even better this year. Personally, it has been a mix of success, learning to make some really difficult decisions and understanding the value of prioritizing and teamwork. More than anything else, it has been a tremendous learning experience, like running a small business and waking up every morning eager to get to work.”
Justin says the most rewarding part of serving as chief executive is seeing the impact that Pi Kappa Alpha, and fraternities in general, have on so many different people.
"This job is extremely rewarding, whether it is seeing an alumnus whose closest friends and colleagues are still some of his fraternity brothers and listening to him reminisce, serving as a mentor and friend to one of our many undergraduate members, staff, or volunteers or observing one of our young student leaders work through some tough challenges and come out on the other side with a newfound sense of pride and accomplishment,” he says.
Justin says Southeast greatly helped him prepare for his career.
“I vividly remember professors like Dr. Thomas Harte and Dr. David Kunz,” he says. “Not just the material but their approach in the classroom was very professional and helped prepare you for the future.
“I also appreciated the balance of in-the-classroom and extracurricular learning opportunities Southeast encouraged. Learning more about leadership through trial and error in my chapter, Greek life and student government helped shape the type of leader I am today.”
Justin explains his secret to success as “Work really hard and treat everyone with respect. Surround yourself with intelligent people and have passion for what you do.
"Take advantage of every opportunity and show up,” he goes on. “Those may seem simplistic, but it’s amazing how many people sit back and observe, waiting for someone else to do the job.”
Justin says aside from all the late nights in the Pike house with his best friends, his favorite Southeast memory is being crowned Southeast Man of the Year in 1998.
“My family was there to share that with me as I got mobbed at halftime by 100 of my fraternity brothers,” he says.
“There is a group of guys who I have been on an annual trip with for the past 10 years (all Southeast grads) and have never missed it,” he continues. “At the end of the day, there is nothing more important than family and good friends, many of whom you meet while you’re in college. I really can’t imagine where I’d be today without the experiences I had at Southeast and the people I met along the way."
Justin and his wife, Tait, recently celebrated their first wedding anniversary and are expecting their first child, a girl, in July. They reside in Germantown, Tenn. In his spare time, Justin enjoys traveling and eating out, playing golf and softball, watching the Cardinals and spending as much time with his dogs as possible.