A Harvard Sponsored Role (HSR), formerly Person of Interest (POI), designation is the mechanism Harvard uses to validate identities so that access to physical or digital resources can be granted to non-employees, non-students, and non-academic appointment holders. A member of the Harvard community must act as the sponsor for a Harvard Sponsored Role (HSR) request and in doing so, the sponsor provides a legitimate and verified business need to justify giving access to Harvard resources to the HSR.

Effective July 15, 2021, all HSR requests must comply with the new Harvard Sponsored Role Policy, and all HSR appointments must be created, maintained, and terminated using the HSR Portal

This webpage was developed to assist the Harvard University Graduate School of Design community in bringing HSRs on board according to the University’s HSR policy and to explain the requirements.


General Information

Who can be a HSR: An individual with a legitimate need for access to Harvard University and Harvard GSD space and digital resources for purposes that advance the Harvard University or Harvard GSD business missions, and who also meets the definition of one of the HSR role types defined in appendices A, B, or C of the Harvard Sponsored Role Policy:

  • Individuals who hold an academic appointment through the Harvard GSD (for example, postdoctoral researchers, lecturers, instructors, assistant and associate professors, and professors) should not be brought on board as HSRs. People who have a Harvard GSD academic appointment already have access to Harvard GSD spaces and resources.
  • To qualify for a Harvard Sponsored Role (HSR), an individual must:
    • not already qualify for an Employee, Student, or any other role provided through HR/Faculty Affairs, AND
    • have a legitimate reason to conduct business on behalf of Harvard University, OR
    • have a legitimate reason to need ID card access to a Harvard building

HSR sponsors and approvers: Each HSR must be sponsored and approved by authorized members of the Harvard GSD community. Sponsors must ensure that the HSRs they sponsor comply with the HSR Policy and all other applicable Harvard University and Harvard GSD policies, along with any state or federal employment regulations. The sponsor will be held responsible for the HSR’s conduct and use of Harvard University resources. The sponsor (and their designated delegate) is responsible for the accuracy of the information provided, for keeping the information on this individual up to date, and for promptly updating the HSR’s data in the HSR Portal when the individual’s affiliation with the University ends.

  • Training – Sponsors, sponsor delegates, and local and central approvers MUST take a one-time HSR training before sponsoring or approving HSRs in the University HSR portal.
  • HSR Portal Roles – Local Approver, Administrator, and Reviewer roles for your department can be requested by emailing [email protected].
  • Limitations – Harvard GSD personnel can be assigned multiple roles in the HSR system; however, the same person cannot be both the sponsor and the approver for the same HSR request.

HSR role types: Harvard has identified 25 different assignable Harvard Sponsored Role types that describe/define the circumstances under which a person qualifies for an HSR and can be granted access by Harvard to a variety of time-bound physical and/or digital resources. It is important to match the type of access needed to the appropriate HSR type and to ensure that the HSR matches the criteria defined in the HSR policy for the HSR type.

Expiring HSRs: HSRs must be renewed on or before their end date listed in the HSR Portal. Renewing HSRs must meet all HSR Policy criteria and have the required documentation to be approved for renewal.


Requesting Harvard GSD Space and Systems Access for an Approved HSR

Consistent with HSR onboarding practices, sponsors and sponsor delegates must separately identify and request access to the computing or physical Harvard GSD resources that the HSR will need. After the sponsored HSR has been approved:

  • Physical access to the Harvard GSD campus spaces (swipe card/key access) is granted separately through a request made by the sponsor to Building Services.
  • Computing resources/systems access is granted separately through a request made by the sponsor to [email protected].

Approved HSRs will not be able to access Harvard GSD resources until access until requests have been granted through the processes outlined above. Access to space, materials, data, and systems are reviewed and approved on a case-by-case basis, in accordance with their HSR type and Harvard University policies. Be aware that requests to access resources may not be approved.


Additional Information

Any use of a Harvard Sponsored Role for an incoming or departing employee is subject to review and approval by Harvard GSD Human Resources Office.

There are instances where a Non-Faculty Academic Appointment will be more appropriate for your request than a Harvard Sponsored Role; see the Faculty Affairs: Academic Appointments and Policies webpage for more information.

HSRs are not eligible for library access. Visit the Harvard Library website for more information on eligibility and access: https://library.harvard.edu/visitor-access.

The Harvard ID office will not be able to create an ID card for a Harvard Sponsored Role that was approved that same day.

Any HSR who requires access to the Harvard GSD campus will be required to follow the most up-to-date COVID policies for visitors.

University Resources


Any questions can be addressed to [email protected].