Pawley Lean Institute

Pawley Lean Institute celebrates 20 years of philanthropy and its impact

icon of a calendarNovember 17, 2022

Share this story

Pawley Lean Institute celebrates 20 years of philanthropy and its impact
Dennis & Carlotta Pawley
Dennis Pawley, founder of the Pawley Lean Institute at Oakland University, and his wife, Carlotta.

Established in 2002 by Oakland University Alum and OU Trustee Emeritus Dennis Pawley, the Pawley Lean Institute was designed to benefit Oakland University students, schools, nonprofits, government and industry.

Over the past 20 years, the Pawley Lean Institute has expanded from one graduate course in 2004 to include 11 courses, three certificate programs, an undergraduate minor, and advanced graduate and doctoral degree courses.

"The vision of Denny Pawley to establish the institute 20 years ago has inspired greatness in our students through scholarship support, program enhancements and community collaboration," said Michael Westfall, vice president for university advancement at OU. “It is truly incredible to see the impact that Denny and (his wife) Carlotta's philanthropy has on OU students."

To further develop Lean thinking for OU students, the Pawley Lean Institute integrates academics with hands-on projects with industry leaders. Strategic partnerships that have furthered the Pawley Lean Institute’s influence on students and the community have included: Lean Learning Center, AT&T, Bosch Foundation, Lean Enterprise Institute, Fleece and Thank You, Humble Design, Comerica Bank, AIC Equipment, Jabil Inc. and Leader Dogs for the Blind.

Through scholarships, strategic partnerships and internship opportunities, the Pawley Lean Institute has also positively impacted the educational pursuits and career paths of over 210 students since 2015.

Vijit Pandey (ISE Department Chair) Carly Kallen (Undergraduate Award Recipient) Denny Pawley Nina Costa (Undergraduate Award Recipient)
Vijit Pandey (ISE Department chair), Carly
Kallen (undergraduate award recipient),
Denny Pawley, and Nina Costa (undergraduate
award recipient)

“We’ve had over 500 students who have completed high school workshops, we’ve completed 11 community service internships, have awarded over $50,000 in scholarships, and are close to 130 internships over an eight-year period” said Dennis Wade, director of the Pawley Lean Institute. 

The growth of the Pawley Lean Institute and its expanded reach has been transformational for students preparing to enter the workforce in a competitive job market.

For Carly Kallen, a senior majoring in industrial engineering, her Lean coursework and internship experience is what set her apart from other candidates when interviewing for full-time positions.

“When I was interviewing for a full-time position, I was able to speak on my internship experiences, which helped me land my dream job at General Motors as an industrial engineer,” Kallen said.

To learn more about the Pawley Lean Institute, visit

You can also watch a special video commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Pawley Lean Institute on YouTube.

Share this story