John Penno speaking at the Lincoln Award Ceremony, where he was awarded an honorary doctorat

Award for Synlait founder

by Mike Isle

Synlait co-founder John Penno was among those awarded honorary doctorates at the 2019 Lincoln University Graduation on May 3.

Dr Penno co-founded the then dairy farming and now dairy manufacturing company Synlait Milk in 2000 and was its managing director until his retirement from the company in August 2018.

In awarding the doctorate, the university said Dr Penno was directly responsible for leading Synlait Milk’s strategy development, business development and financial management.

He is the chair of the Freshwater Leaders Group advising the government on implementing policy to achieve its Essential Freshwater goals.

The university also awarded a doctorate to Ashburton farm adviser John Tavendale. Tavendale’s farm management work has been of considerable benefit to the agricultural sector and the economy, raising production and profitability, the university said.

The morning and afternoon award ceremonies also featured posthumous awards to two victims of the Christchurch terror attacks and a student who died in an accident last year.

Acting vice-chancellor, Professor Bruce McKenzie said the graduation was a celebration of students’ hard work and achievements, and that included the posthumous awards.

“This occasion, while recognising the tragic circumstances surrounding the loss of those graduates is also about acknowledging their efforts and their time here, as well as the students who were their peers.”

Around 570 students received certificates, diplomas and degrees in the ceremonies at the Lincoln Events Centre.