The Center for Applied Mathematics (CAM) had its origins in a capital campaign in the mid 1980's. Originally, an endowed chair rotated among the departments of the Division of Science and Mathematics. In response to a proposal for a more permanent use of what was then a 1.2 million dollar endowment, the University established the Center for Applied Mathematics.

An Instrumentation and Laboratory Instruction grant from the National Science Foundation provided the necessary funds for the original CAM computers and lab. Professor Hedley Morris was the first CAM director, serving the 1990-1991 academic year. The following year Professors Heekyung Youn and John Kemper shared the role of acting director, offering courses in actuarial science and the development of angioplasty shunts. The development of both of these courses were inspired by industrial needs. In 1992, Professor Peter Costa assumed the role of director of the Center for Applied Mathematics. His interests included linear algebra and Kalman filters. Professor Costa also contributed his industrial experience at Raytheon to further develop the mission of the Center as it addressed problems of the real world. Dr. Costa initiated and advised student research projects on harbor radar systems necessary to maintain adequate surveillance of an irregular harbor. He also edited Bridging Mind and Model: Papers in Applied Mathematics, a collection of papers written by speakers in the CAM Lecture Series, that was published by St. Thomas University Press. Professor Kurt Schulz served as acting director of the Center for Applied Mathematics during the 1997-1998 academic year.

After a national search, Professor Patrick Van Fleet was hired as the Director of CAM. Professor Van Fleet came to the University of St. Thomas after working for six years at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX. His interests include (multi)wavelet analysis and applications, spline functions, image processing, and approximation theory. During his first two years at the University of St. Thomas, he has coordinated a summer undergraduate research program in applied mathematics, developed courses in Fourier analysis and wavelets and imaging, and established a visitor program.

Students, the university community and the professional community have benefited from the annual CAM Lecture Series. Speakers from both the academic and the industrial world give colloquia regarding various applications of applied mathematics. The talks illustrate to students what they might do with a degree in mathematics and stimulate faculty to discuss research problems presented in the lectures. The CAM Lecture Series is thus an integral means of achieving goals set in the CAM Mission.

Also vital to the CAM Mission is the continued development of cutting edge courses exploring the applications of mathematics to serious problems in the world around us. To date, in addition to the work on biotechnology, insurance reserves and radar systems mentioned above, courses have featured epidemic models, curve and surface fitting, Fourier analysis and wavelets and imaging.