Largest donation in DePaul’s history to rename the College of Computing and Digital Media


Rebecca Meluch

Eugene Jarvis and his wife, Sasha Gerritson, have given DePaul University its largest donation in school history to benefit the College of Computing and Digital Media.

DePaul University received the largest donation in school history to benefit the College of Computing and Digital Media (CDM).

The donors, Eugene Jarvis and his wife Sasha Gerritson, have rich ties to the university. Jarvis is an arcade game designer, who was also named the first game designer in residence at CDM in 2008. Gerritson, a DePaul trustee and music school alumnus, teaches musical theater and opera at Northeastern Illinois University.

The donation’s precise amount was undisclosed, as per the donors’ wishes. DePaul’s previous largest donation was $30 million from philanthropist Richard Driehaus in 2012 for the university’s College of Commerce.

When discussing the couple’s motivation to give back to DePaul, Gerritson recalled her time as a student.

“My experience in the School of Music was the best time of my life,” Gerritson told The DePaulia. “I see the impact that DePaul University is having on our society through offering such a wonderful educational experience, and I want to be part of that. DePaul has given me so much, and it’s only right and just that I give back as much as I can.

“Eugene has also had such a lovely and meaningful experience at DePaul through his work, specifically in CDM and otherwise. He felt that this was the right thing to do as well, because DePaul has changed our lives in a way that has been so impactful, that we’re happy to do our part.”

The CDM college will be renamed the Eugene P. Jarvis College of Computing and Digital Media in honor of the gift, according to Newsline. The funds will go towards an endowed scholarship and a research collaboration with the Ruff Institute of Global Homelessness housed at DePaul.

“It is my hope that being able to offer scholarships, being able to offer a place and a space for creativity and innovation, will afford DePaul students of today and tomorrow the opportunity to live into their dreams,” Gerritson said. “To be able to recognize and realize their creative visions, [and] an opportunity to come to one of the best programs in the world without financial barrier.”

Jarvis discussed the reasoning behind the record-breaking gift.

“Sasha and I are thrilled to help one of DePaul’s most exciting, vital colleges expand its innovative, collaborative, hands-on programs,” Jarvis said in his statement to Newsline.

The gift will also establish the Jarvis Student Center for Innovation and Collaboration, a space designed to “will connect students with industry professionals, creators and experts-in-residence,” according to Newsline.

“It’s an amazing new idea,” said DePaul CDM junior Jess Newlin of the Jarvis Student Center. “I love how, especially me, as a game design major, will have the opportunity to meet with professionals in the industry and connect on a personal level.”

David Miller, dean of DePaul’s CDM college, told The DePaulia that the Jarvis Student Center for Innovation and Collaboration will be located in the concourse of the DePaul Center at 1 E. Jackson Blvd. It’s currently being constructed next to the basement floor of the Barnes & Noble bookstore, and is slated to be opened by the end of the Spring quarter.

Miller says that the space is nearly 10,000 square feet, and hopes that it will attract students and encourage innovative collaboration.

“Hopefully, the Jarvis Center will be brimming with students, but they’ll also be spilling out into the surrounding space,” Miller told The DePaulia. “It’ll just be a place where people want to be. Bringing people together and having those opportunities to meet, discuss and collaborate is what this space is about.”

A portion of the donation will also go towards research at the Ruff Institute of Global Homelessness, a joint initiative of DePaul and DePaul International driving a global movement to end street homelessness. Gerritson explained how thrilled she was to contribute to an organization encouraging students to make an impact.

“Another hope of Eugene’s, and I share this, is that this type of work can serve to break down silos in higher education, not just at DePaul, but in all places,” she told The DePaulia. “It isn’t just students studying the problems of housing insecurity. It is all students working together to try to make a difference in our world, because that is who we are as students at DePaul.”

Jarvis and Gerritsonn have a history of generosity when it comes to DePaul University. In 2020, the couple made another gift to revamp the former School of Music concert hall. It was renamed the Sasha and Eugene Jarvis Opera Hall in honor of the couple.

Gabriel Esteban, Ph.D., president of DePaul University, thanked the couple for their generous gift in a statement.

“Eugene and Sasha’s legacy gift ensures CDM will continue to empower generations of student leaders and innovators for years to come, helping build a brighter collective future,” said Esteban via Newsline. “On behalf of our students and the entire DePaul family, I thank them for this transformative act of generosity that will have a profound impact on our students, as well as the Chicago community and industries nationwide.”

The renaming of DePaul’s CDM college and the opening of the Jarvis Student Center for Innovation and Collaboration will both take place on May 20, according to Miller.