Jim Edgar and his wife, Brenda, demonstrated their continuing support for their alma mater by establishing the Edgar Speaker Series in 2007. Working in conjunction with the EIU Foundation, the couple finalized details for a gift which provides for at least one speaker a year. The series focuses primarily, but not exclusively, on state government, and addresses current issues in state government and historical implications.
Prior to being inaugurated as Illinois' 38th governor in January 1991, Edgar spent more than 30 years in state government, including terms as both a state representative and as secretary of state. He was named an Eastern Illinois University Distinguished Alumnus, the highest honor the Alumni Association can bestow upon a former student, in 1982.