Close to 60 guests gathered to applaud three exceptional individuals: Dolly Rabbath, Rania Iliyan and David Gagnon. 

Colleagues, family and friends came together at the Faculty’s Dean’s Office on December 13 to celebrate the outstanding work of administrative staff in 2023. Hosted by Lesley Fellows, MDCM, DPhil, Vice-President (Health Affairs) and Dean, the evening shone a spotlight on those who form the backbone of the University’s operations. It was not only an opportunity to celebrate individual achievements, but also the “collective dedication of administrative personnel that reinforce the institution’s commitment to excellence,” stated Dr. Fellows. The VP-Dean’s Ovation Awards are a longstanding awards program that began in 2008, during which the Faculty recognizes and applauds its administrative, operational and technical staff’s exceptional work. 

The ceremony commenced with the Anne McCormick Award, presented to Dolly Rabbath, Associate Director, Postgraduate Medical Admissions, who was nominated by Leon Tourian, MD, Assistant Dean, Fellowships, Postgraduate Medical Education (PGME), for her pivotal role in fostering a supportive learning environment within PGME since 2005. Dr. Tourian, who has known Rabbath since he was himself a resident, said: “Dolly represents the foundation on which PGME is built, protecting, encouraging and making the best out of learners’ experiences. She is “home” to me, and there is nobody more worthy of this recognition than her.”  

“I just did my best,” was Rabbath’s characteristically humble reply. “The PGME team all supported me, and I just want to say thank you. It’s such an honour to be here.” 

Next, Rania Iliyan, Senior Administrative & Student Affairs Coordinator, Administrative Excellence Centre #6, was honoured with the Pamela Chase Award. Nominator Thierry Benaroch, MDCM, Division Head, MCH, Pediatric Orthopedics, described Iliyan as someone with “a constant smile, she is a huge asset in producing a warm and friendly environment.”  

Iliyan’s commitment was best summarized in her impromptu remarks: “Orthopedic surgery is my heart and soul. I see a future here, and I want to make a difference. Thank you for this recognition.” 

David Gagnon, PhD, Course Coordinator, Department of Microbiology & Immunology, School of Biomedical Sciences, was the deserving recipient of the Priyabrata Mukhopadhyay Award. Nominator and department chair Samantha Gruenheid, PhD, likened Gagnon to a keystone species in microbiology, acknowledging his embodiment of essential qualities.  

 “Thanks are due to all my team members,” responded Gagnon. “None of this would have been possible without them.” 

“The quality and power [represented] in this room is the McGill family,” said Executive Director, Administration and Operations, Demetra Kafantaris in heartfelt closing remarks. “It’s the hard work, loyalty, perseverance and commitment of all our staff that make a difference every day, despite the challenges. Thank you.”  

Congratulations to this year’s outstanding Ovation laureates! 

You can learn more about the VP-Dean’s Ovation Awards and the nomination process for 2024 here. 

Related: Congratulations to the 2023 Ovation Award winners! – Health e-News ( 

Photos: Owen Egan & Joni Dufour