Neely Shirey and President Neal Smatresk with the Brand Ambassador award


July 2, 2021

After COVID-19 hit, Facilities senior project manager Neely Shirey transitioned quickly from managing construction projects to facilitating social distancing in classrooms for all in-person classes last fall.

“It took an amazing amount of planning to be able to get all of us together, to figure out what we were doing, waiting for the CDC guidelines to come out to make sure that what we were planning was appropriate,” Shirey says. “Actually implementing that plan was very different —we became expert furniture movers, tapers, measurers, because we were making sure all the classrooms were meeting all the guidelines to have a safe campus for the fall.”

Shirey and her team measured and redesigned about 330 classrooms, working with faculty to ensure the designs met the needs of their classes, including dance studios and labs.

For all of her hard work and dedication, she was named UNT's latest Brand Ambassador, an award given monthly to faculty and staff who demonstrate many of the attributes of the UNT brand promise — being a caring and creative community that empowers our students to thrive in a rapidly changing world.

Dallas Hogue, senior design manager for Facilities, says Shirey “radiates the original and friendly spirit of UNT” and is compassionate and supportive, including working with interior design student employees to facilitate on-the-job training.  

“Everyone says you're great to work with, that you're always upbeat and positive, that you work tirelessly on behalf of the university,” President Neal Smatresk told her at the surprise award presentation Wednesday morning.

Shirey, who earned a bachelor's degree in interior design from UNT in 2009, worked in Facilities as a student employee before graduating and moving to a full-time position. 

“I love working for UNT. I've been here a long time,” she said. “Just to be able to give back to where I came from is awesome.”

If you have a colleague you would like to be considered for this award, email with a description of why you're nominating the individual. The award recipient must exhibit at least four of the 12 UNT brand attributes.