Vale Professor Anthony Grant

7 February 2020
In recognition of a pioneer in coaching psychology
Professor Grant will be remembered as a founder of coaching psychology, a prolific researcher, and a great teacher. But more importantly, Tony will be remembered as a kind and generous colleague, mentor and friend.
Professor Tony Grant

28 May 1954 - 3 Feb 2020

It is with deep sadness that we record the passing of Professor Anthony (Tony) Grant, at 1.30pm on Monday 3 February 2020, surrounded by his family.

Our thoughts and best wishes go out to his wife Georgie, his two sons Ben and Toby, his sisters Jane and Clare and his brother-in-law David, and to all his colleagues, students, friends and clients who will dearly miss him.

Born in the UK, Tony’s first career was as a carpenter, and he remained a builder all his life. Following his migration to Australia, Tony enrolled in a bridging course at the University of Sydney in 1992, and subsequently enrolled in the Bachelor of Arts Program in 1993. He completed Honours in Psychology in 1996, coming first in his year and winning the University Medal and the Australian Psychological Prize for best Honours thesis. Along the way he also received the Dick Thompson Prize for his behavioural thesis.

Tony left the University of Sydney briefly, going to Macquarie University where he completed a PhD and Masters of Behavioural Science in 2001, with a thesis was entitled, Toward a Psychology of Coaching: The impact of coaching on metacognition, mental health and goal attainment. It was in the emerging field of coaching psychology that Tony was an internationally acknowledged pioneer and thought leader, right up to the time of his death.

World first Coaching Psychology Unit

In 1999, while still completing his PhD, Tony approached the Dean of Science at the University of Sydney with a proposal to found the world’s first Coaching Psychology Unit, and the world’s first postgraduate degree in Coaching Psychology. Over the next few years, Tony and his colleagues developed four postgraduate degrees in coaching: the Master of Science in Coaching Psychology, the Master of Applied Science (Psychology of Coaching), the Master of Organisational Coaching (in conjunction with Faculty of Economics and Business), and the Graduate Certificate in Applied Positive Psychology. The Coaching Psychology Unit has remained the acknowledged world leader in coaching education ever since.

Under Tony’s leadership as Director of the Coaching Psychology Unit, the process of establishing and strengthening an evidence base for behavioural coaching started. Largely through Tony’s prodigious research efforts, the field of coaching psychology has become an established field worldwide.  Coaching and Coaching Psychology Units and degrees are now being offered in more than 18 universities including Harvard University, Oxford Brookes University, the University of Copenhagen, University of East London, City University London, and the University of Johannesburg among others.

Tony was an outstanding teacher and presenter, as entertaining as he was insightful and passionate. His students and all those who participated in his talks and workshops will long remember his ability to impart a practical understanding of complex issues. This was complemented by his ever-present and wicked sense of humour. His repertoire of jokes was extensive and they kept us all laughing.

Tony’s sustained and innovative work has been acknowledged nationally and internationally with several prestigious awards. These include: the 2007 British Psychological Society Award for 'outstanding professional and scientific contribution to Coaching Psychology': the 2009 Vision of Excellence Award from Harvard University for 'pioneering work in helping to develop a scientific foundation to coaching', and the 2016 Australian Psychological Society Workplace Excellence Award in Coaching and Leadership.

Tony was also a leader in establishing professional bodies of coaching psychology. He was instrumental in creating the University of Sydney Coaching and Mentoring Association, an ongoing professional learning and networking group with over 400 members. He was a founding board member of the Australian Psychology Society’s Interest Group in Coaching Psychology. This quickly grew to be the second largest group in the APS. He was also a founding editorial board member of the International Coaching Psychology Review, one of the first coaching journals and a joint publication of the APS and British Psychological Society.

Tony was honoured with multiple roles from universities, business and industry groups nationally and internationally. These include:

  • Visiting Professor at Oxford Brookes University
  • Senior Fellow at Melbourne University Business School
  • Associate Fellow at Saïd Business School, Oxford University
  • ABC Scientist in Residence (2014)
  • Scientific Consultant for the TV series 'Making Australia Happy'.

His list of publications is similarly impressive and includes 8 books, 27 book chapters, over 70 peer reviewed journal papers and host of academic conference presentations and invited keynotes.

Tony contributed further to the academic life of the field with editorial board memberships. These include of the Journal of Positive Psychology, the International Coaching Psychology Review (ICPR); the International Journal of Evidence-based Coaching and Mentoring; Coaching: An International Journal, and The Coaching Psychologist amongst others.

In acknowledgement of this outstanding contribution, Tony was promoted to full professor in 2019, and to the role of Emeritus Professor in January, 2020.

He will be remembered as a founder of coaching psychology, a prolific researcher, and a great teacher. But more importantly, Tony will be remembered as a kind and generous colleague, mentor and friend who has left an enduring legacy for all those he has touched with his insight and passion. He will be so sadly missed but long remembered.

Dr Michael Cavanagh

Senior Lecturer, Coaching Psychology Unit

Dr Sean O'Connor

Lecturer, Coaching Psychology Unit