By Zach Taylor, University Relations Student Writer
Dr. Gavin Townsend, UTC Professor of Art History, was recently honored with the dedication of a model Viking ship.
Artist and Donor Frank Hill was on hand to dedicate the ship. A retired nuclear engineer, Hill was an adjunct professor at UTC for a number of years. Since his retirement, he has audited a variety of classes on campus–with most of them being in the liberal arts–where he was able to observe and study under Dr. Townsend. This is the second ship that Mr. Hill has dedicated to a University faculty member; the first being in honor of Dr. Craig Lang.
With a special research interest of American architectural history, Townsend has received the SGA Outstanding Professor Award, has served as Faculty Senate President, and also been on the Tennessee Historical Commission.
The model is based on the renowned Gokstad ship, one of the most in-tact and preserved Viking long ships ever recovered. Built and used as a burial chamber in the last 800’s, the ship was not unearthed until 1880, 1000 years later. Since then, it has been refurbished and placed in the Hall of the Vikings in Oslo. A full-size model was built and sailed from Norway to Chicago in 1893 as well.
“Dr. Townsend’s lectures always held an element of inspiration. In my mind, no professor that I have studied under surpasses him, especially on the subject of the architecture and fine art of past ages,” said Hill. For Hill, the model is a “manifestation of his esteem for Dr. Townsend.”
The Gokstad ship model can be seen at the main floor entrance of the Fine Arts Building, while Hill’s first model dedication can be seen on the 3rd floor of Brock Hall.