Barb Cherry’s Athletic Endeavors, Steve Krahnke’s Set Design, and Intellectual Circuit: Law

Barb Cherry’s Athletic Interests: Through the Years

Professor Barb Cherry is well known as an expert in telecommunications policy.  What many do not know is that she is a skilled athlete whose accomplishments in a variety of sports tell quite a story.  She took the time to share some thoughts, memories, and photos of her experiences over the years.

Barb always had an interest in athletics, both as a spectator and participant.  However, in the 60s and 70s, when she was growing up, there were not many opportunities for women to participate in organized sports.  Her athletic activity in her early years was largely limited to playing catch with her father and brother.  It wasn’t until high school that Barb was able to participate in the one organized sport available to young girls: cheerleading.  Then, as a freshman at the University of Michigan, she tried out and made the basketball cheerleading squad.  “At that time, the football cheerleaders were an all male squad.  It wasn’t until my junior year that they even allowed females as cheerleaders for the football team.  I tried out and made the first squad of women that cheered in the fall of 1974.  Even then, the two squads were separate and did not integrate until many years after I left.”  The only other opportunities for organized sports for Barb at the collegiate level were intramural sports like volleyball.

After graduation from Michigan, she went to Harvard to study law.  It was at this point that she was able to pursue her fascination with horses and riding.  She bought her first horse during her last year in law school, as a graduation gift to herself.  She began to ride competitively in an activity called eventing, which involves three different sports: dressage, cross country jumping, and stadium jumping.  It was during this time that she met her husband, who was participating in an event called hunting.

After getting married and moving to Chicago, Barb had to put her passion on hold, as the logistics of keeping a horse and training were too difficult.  Unable to get rid of the athletic itch, Barb started working out and lifting weights at a health club on the north side of Chicago.  There a trainer introduced her to the world of bodybuilding.  “I was attracted to bodybuilding because it is actually a lifestyle.  It involves aspects of dieting, nutrition, and training over months of time.”  After training for a period of time, Barb was persuaded to compete in two shows and she won both of them, competing in the heavyweight class.

Her foray into the world of bodybuilding came to an end when she was able to return to horse training when she joined the faculty of the Department of Telecommunication at Michigan State University, after completing her PhD in communication at Northwestern University.  She has since decided to focus on dressage, sometimes referred to as ‘Horse Ballet.’  The ultimate goal of dressage is to train the horse to smoothly respond to the rider’s requests in a relaxed and almost effortless way.

Dressage is much more than that to Barb.  Since working with her current horse, Livingston, Barb describes this type of horse training as an art, sport, and intellectual challenge.  “I have learned more as an athlete with this activity than anything else I have done.  It is truly an integration of mind and body, not only with yourself, but with another species.  When I am riding, I get into a state of flow, almost as if there is no passage of time.  I’ve never done anything that has allowed me to completely get out of my head like this.”  Barb has achieved much success in dressage competition over the years as an amateur, many times in direct competition with professionals.  Now, Barb looks forward to going to Florida for the summer to continue her training with Livingston.

Check out this short video detailing Barb’s past athletic adventures.

Steve Krahnke’s Set Design Work at BHS North

It’s likely that you’ve thought of Steve Krahnke as a documentary producer, a professor, an arts administrator, or even a tie collector, but it turns out that he’s almost always been a set designer at heart. When Steve was 14 years old, his parents

Steve’s set design for last year’s production of “Anything Goes”

introduced him to a professional set designer, Jim Ely, who offered him a summer job. Steve took to the craft right away, and it’s something he’s been doing ever since. “I’ve mainly done it purely for fun, and a lot of what I know about production has been informed by my experience in set design,” Steve says.

Steve took a couple of set design courses in college, but by then he’d already been creating sets for years. When he went on to become a theater administrator, people there knew of his background and started asking him for help with set design. About 10 years ago, Franchesca Sobrer, drama teacher at Bloomington North, found out through a mutual friend that Steve had experience in set design and asked him to help with the spring musical. It started out as a fairly simple undertaking. “It was sort of a collaboration with their art department,” Steve explains. “Then I proposed meeting on Monday afternoon after school to start a tech club so the students could work on the things I design.”

Now, the projects for the musical productions are complex and often labor-intensive. The tech club, along with 40 or so drama students and parents, hold work weekends to complete the designs leading up to each production. “We’re capable of producing pretty sophisticated stuff,” Steve says. The stage at North is a large one, and the sets are often designed to move apart and reconfigure to form a new scene. Steve takes some of the time leading up to opening night to train the stage crews for highly coordinated efforts necessary to move the set properly and smoothly.

For Steve, one of the benefits of his time spent working on the sets at North is the satisfaction that he’s teaching the students how to succeed in their craft. “It isn’t really me doing it for them; it’s them doing it for themselves. I just provide them with the means to do it,” he explains. In fact, many of Steve’s collaborators from Bloomington North become students at IU, and he finds several of them in his classes each year.

Their current production, Cabaret, debuted over the weekend, and there’s still time to catch the remaining shows. Tickets are available for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and the production begins at 7:30 at Bloomington High School North.

Intellectual Circuits, Part 2: Law

The department offers a joint MA / MS (Telecom) – JD degree with the law school and also many Telecom graduate students take law classes.  Here are some perspectives shared by graduate students and faculty.

What is telecommunications law?  According to current MA-JD student Matthew Pische,  “it as an amalgam of all the statutes, common law precedents, and regulatory actions that affect the creation and dissemination of messages by electronic means, which encompasses both wired and wireless transmission of sound, images, and data.”  MA-JD alumnus and incoming PhD student Ryland Sherman notes that, while telecommunications law is tricky to define, its precedents and statutes find their origin in a number of areas. Ryland suggests a horse analogy to understand the ways in which all other types of law have been applied to communication: “While there is no legal subdivision focusing specifically on horses, many legal disciplines evolving independently of the horse must be applied to it.”

Professor Mike McGregor says that the joint degree program between Law and Telecom is a very beneficial one. “It’s produced some fine students over the years,” he says. Mike adds that the location of the Federal Communications Law Journal in the law school have added to the interest. Both Mike and fellow faculty member Barb Cherry have taught courses over in the law school on topics related to Telecom.

For both Matt and Ryland, one big draw of the dual degree is that it offers a competitive edge for internships and jobs. “The Telecom department provides an understanding of why telecommunications systems and practices have developed the way they have, how the legal rules both influence and respond to these practices, and what social effects new or different telecommunications regimes may have,” Matt explains. Ryland adds, “Competition with other very qualified individuals is fierce, so seeking out a relevant internship early in your career, coupled with your knowledge, allows you to distinguish yourself and begin to build a professional network.”

Ryland adds that even those not seeking the dual degree can still try out a couple of relevant courses within the law school. “They offer non-law students the opportunity to enroll and be graded separately with due consideration to a lack of general legal knowledge,” he explains.

Recommended Courses: Constitutional Law II, Communications Law, Intellectual Property Licensing, Internet Law, Entertainment Law, Copyright Law

Brown Bag

Reflections on the Telecom Graduate Program

Panel:  Harmeet Sawhney (Director of Graduate Studies), Katie Birge (PhD student), Sanja Kapidzic (MA student), Danqing Liu (MS student), and Travis Ross (PhD student)

The session started with a presentation by Harmeet, where he revisited the points he had discussed during the orientation week last fall with the incoming class.  After the presentation, Katie, Sanja, Danqing, and Travis commented on it and also offered their own reflections.  Thereafter the session was opened for a general discussion.


Nicky Birge: Steve Krahnke’s Set Design Work at BHS North, and Intellectual Circuits, Part 2: Law

Nicky Lewis:  Barb Cherry’s Athletic Interests

Comments are closed.