HSA was founded in 1957 on the ideal of financing education through student employment. With Harvard’s tuition on the rise, members of the Financial Aid Office were concerned that the increased cost of higher education would adversely affect the social and economic make-up of those applying to Harvard. At the same time, some ambitious students were running small-scale businesses out of their dorm rooms. By using Harvard’s facilities to operate their businesses, these entrepreneurs jeopardized the university’s real estate tax exemption. John Munro ’35, Dean of Financial Aid, assigned Dustin M. Burke ’52, Director of Student Employment, to investigate student businesses as a possible source of financial aid and to begin developing the idea that would become Harvard Student Agencies.
Later that spring, a meeting with student managers revealed considerable interest in the idea of a corporation, and more concrete plans began to emerge. With an initial capital investment of $7,000 and the acquisition of the rights to provide the weekly linen service traditionally offered by the university, HSA was equipped to carry its corporate overhead. The remaining pieces quickly fell into place. In August 1957, the papers authorizing a new company were filed. On September 10, the new corporation’s first meeting was held. On December 13, 1957, the charter was signed recognizing the six original incorporators: John Munro, Dustin Burke, Greg Stone, John Giannetti, Theodore Elliot, and Harold Rosenwald.
Since 1957, HSA has experienced astronomical growth. Today, HSA employs more 450 students, Let’s Go publishes 50 titles, and The Harvard Shop sends products around the world. While the emphasis for the management team has shifted from an entrepreneurial experience to a more managerial one, new HSA programs are continually conceived and implemented to help foster the innovative and creative spirit so many Harvard students possess. HSA has remained dedicated to financing education through student employment while, at the same time, ensuring the quality of the jobs offered at HSA.
Each of our 14 agencies is run by a team of student managers who are responsible for the budgeting, sales, and everyday operation of their agencies. Our permanent staff gives advice and assistance in managing the corporation.