Contact: Ellen Sterner
SMU News & Media Relations
(214) 768-7673

July 31, 2002


DALLAS (SMU) -- Oxygen Media founder, chairman and CEO Geraldine Laybourne will be the featured speaker at the fifth annual Louise B. Raggio Endowed Lecture in Women's Studies at SMU on Wednesday, Oct. 2. in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Theater, 3140 Dyer St. Laybourne is the former president of Disney/ABC Cable Networks, former president of Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite, and past vice chairman of MTV Networks.

One of the most influential women in broadcast entertainment, Laybourne co-founded the women's television network Oxygen Media in 1998 with Oprah Winfrey and the production group of Marcy Carsey, Tom Werner and Caryn Mandabach. Oxygen Media is an integrated media brand that combines the qualities of television and the Internet and television to serve women. The 24-hour cable network features a wide variety of programming including music, talk, health, comedy, movies and sports, and will be available in 43 million homes by the end of this year.

A former elementary school teacher, Laybourne used her understanding of children and media education to catapult children's television into the forefront of the entertainment industry. She spent 16 years at Nickelodeon, taking over the management of the network in 1984 and launching the successful Nick at Nite primetime lineup of retro situation comedies in 1985. Under her leadership Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite became the top-rated 24-hour cable programming service and won notable honors including Emmy®, Peabody®, Cable ACE® and Parent's Choice Awards®.

In 1989 she was named president and added the title of vice chairman of MTV Networks in 1993. She also served on the operating and executive committees of Viacom, the parent company of Nickelodeon and MTV. She expanded the Nickelodeon brand by distributing programming to countries worldwide, developing theme park attractions and creating movie, toy and publishing divisions.

Time magazine named Laybourne one of the 25 most influential people in America in 1996 for her approach to children's programming. Also in 1996, she became president of Disney/ABC Cable Networks where she oversaw cable programming for the Walt Disney Company and its ABC subsidiary, with oversight of programming on the Disney Channel as well as ABC's interests in Lifetime, A&E Network, The History Channel and E! Entertainment Television. Laybourne also played a major role in management of ABC's Saturday morning children's programming schedule.

Laybourne has earned numerous awards for her contributions to the entertainment industry, including the Annenberg Public Policy Center's award for distinguished Lifetime Contribution to Children and Television in 1997. Laybourne earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in art history from Vassar College, where she was elected to the board of trustees in 1997. She also has a Master of Science degree in elementary education from the University of Pennsylvania.

Tickets for the Raggio Lecture Series event, including a dinner, the lecture and a dessert reception are $75 each. Tickets to the Raggio lecture and dessert reception only are $10 each. For reservations and availability, contact Lisa Chou at (214) 768-2610.

The Raggio Lecture Series was part of The Campaign for SMU: A Time to Lead, the university's most successful capital campaign in history, raising more than $540 million for academic programs, scholarships, faculty positions and facilities.