Former chair of Performing Arts Department Leo Nickole dies at 93



By Elena Naze

Emerson alumnus and professor emeritus Leo Nickole died Wednesday at 93, an email from President M. Lee Pelton announced Friday evening. 

A Korean War veteran, Nickole graduated Emerson in 1949 with a bachelor’s degree in theatre and speech and eventually went on to serve for 48 years as a college faculty member. Nickole acted as chair of the Performing Arts department, founding chair and internship coordinator of the Theatre Education program, and director of the musical theatre program.

Nickole was a supporter of Emerson’s award-winning Theatre for Young Audiences productions which have reached tens of thousands of children across New England.

“[Nickole] represents a keystone of the College’s modern Performing Arts curriculum,” Pelton wrote in the email. “And his contributions to the College will be long remembered.” 

Nickole leaves behind his partner Hank Zappala ‘79, the college’s former director of professional studies and special programs. 

Get This Week's News

All the big stories delivered to your inbox every Thursday morning 

Show your support for essential student journalism

News and the truth are under constant attack in our current moment, just when they are needed the most. The Beacon’s quality, fact-based accounting of historic events has never mattered more, and our editorial independence is of paramount importance. We believe journalism is a public good that should be available to all regardless of one’s ability to pay for it. But we can not continue to do this without you. Every little bit, whether big or small, helps fund our vital work — now and in the future.