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About Pawley Lean

Our Mission
To provide instruction, research and further development of interdisciplinary principles and practices of Lean organizational improvement for business, education and public service.

Established in 2002 with a $1 million contribution by Dennis Pawley, OU Board of Trustees member and alumnus, the Pawley Lean Institute (PLI) offers Lean courses, resources and training.

The first Lean graduate course, Lean Principles and Application, began in Winter 2004. Three schools, the School of Education and Human Services, the School of Engineering and Computer Science, and the School of Business Administration, worked together to develop the course. Current courses include HRD 3600: Lean Principles and Practices in Organization, HRD 4600: Lean Kaizen in Organizations, HRD 4610: Lean Green Belt as well as POM 4600: Lean Kaizen in Organizations. Current courses from engineering include ISE 4483: Production Systems and Workflow Analysis, ISE 4484: Flexible and Lean Manufacturing Systems, POM 4600: Lean Kaizen in Organizations.

To hear Dennis Pawley, Founder of the Pawley Lean Institute, reflect on why he wanted to establish an institute for Lean Learning, view the Pawley Lean Institute video


Dennis Pawley, Pawley Institute Founder 

As the former executive vice president of manufacturing for Chrysler Corporation, Pawley developed the Chrysler Operating System in the early 1990s to restore productivity and streamline procedures.

"Similar to major corporations, universities must remain competitive to produce a better product ... future employees," Pawley said.

Pawley said the concept of Lean thinking will benefit the automotive industry and Oakland students who are schooled in the philosophy of Lean.

"There's a great need to expand educational opportunities to students nationwide. As we look forward to the next century, America can only remain a leader in manufacturing through joint efforts between universities and corporations. That's why developing specific curricula to meet those challenges are so important."

Pawley graduated from OU's School of Education and Human Services in 1982. He has previously served on the Oakland University Foundation Board of Trustees. He was a member of the Board of Trustees from 1996-98, 2002-10, and 2012-13. He is chair and CEO of Pawley Enterprises in Farmington, Mich. In 1997, he and his wife, Carlotta, donated $2 million to Oakland University to support the schools of Education and Human Services, and Engineering and Computer Science.

Pawley was awarded the OU Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award as well as an honorary doctorate. He has been an active alumni volunteer and has devoted many years of service to the university.

Pawley Lean Institute

Pawley Hall, Room 460K
456 Pioneer Drive
Rochester, MI 48309-4482
(location map)
(248) 370-4542