Israel Hicks is fondly remembered as Dean of the Purchase College Conservatory of Theatre Arts & Film, a position he held for 16 years from 1985 to 2001. His death at age 66 after a recent illness was sad news for friends and colleagues.
While at Purchase he was instrumental in developing the College’s Conservatory Acting Program and solidifying its reputation as one of the preeminent undergraduate training programs in the country. His leadership was passionate and unwavering, and reflected his life-long dedication to the performing arts. He will be remembered for his strength and sensitivity, his seriousness of purpose, his good humor, and for championing artistic excellence. He will be missed by faculty and staff who knew him and by generations of alumni whose lives were forever changed under his steady guidance and support.
For the past nine years he was Chair and Artistic Director of Theatre Arts in the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University and had become founding Artistic Director of the Ebony repertory Theatre in Los Angeles.
Raised in Brooklyn, he received his Bachelor’s degree from Boston University and his Master’s in Directing at NYU. Israel Hicks enjoyed a long and highly significant career in theatre, working on Broadway, in film and television, and in a host of regional theatres across the country notably the Negro, Ensemble Company, the Tyrone Guthrie Theatre, the Actor’s Theatre of Louisville, the Phoenix Theatre, the Cincinnati Playhouse, the Virginia Stage Company, The Mark Taper Forum, and the Denver Center Theatre Company. Over the years, he also taught acting and directing at Carnegie-Mellon University, NYU, City College of NY, Temple University, the Actor’s Center, and the University of Denver. A memorial tribute will be held in the fall at Purchase.