Yale Provost Alison Richard, the University’s chief academic and financial officer, is poised to become the vice-chancellor of the University of Cambridge in England.

Cambridge officials refused to confirm or deny reports that Richard will be named as the new vice-chancellor of the university when Cambridge makes its official announcement next Wednesday. But British news organizations have reported this week that Yale’s provost will replace current vice-chancellor Sir Alec Broers.

The vice-chancellor of Cambridge serves as the full-time resident head of the university and is its chief academic and administrative officer.

Richard could not be reached for comment Friday. Yale Deputy Provost Charles Long declined to comment on the appointment or on possible replacements for Richard.

Several Cambridge professors said they had not heard anything official from the university. But one professor said he heard the appointee would be a woman.

Richard was the only woman to appear on a list of favored candidates for the job published in the British newspaper the Guardian this week.

If appointed, Richard will inherit a troubled financial situation – the Board of Scrutiny, the university’s watchdog, projected a deficit of approximately $18 million for 2002-2003. According to Board reports, the university is expected to face an annual deficit of approximately $31.9 million within three years.

As Yale’s provost, Richard oversees the academic planning for all of Yale’s programs and schools. Richard is also responsible for Yale’s budgets and financial planning. Under Richard’s direction, Yale has presented a balanced budget for the past six years.

Richard is also credited with pushing for recruitment of minorities and women to senior faculty positions. Since 1994, the number of tenured women in Yale’s faculty of arts and sciences has increased from 41 to 66.

Richard would be the first woman in Cambridge’s 800-year history to serve in the vice-chancellor post as a chief executive. Rosemary Murray held the figurehead post in the 1970s before the vice-chancellorship acquired its administrative and managerial role only in the mid-1990s.

Richard would also be the first outsider to be appointed vice-chancellor of Cambridge.

Internal candidates for the position include Lord John Eatwell, president of Queens’ College and Malcolm Schofield, professor of ancient philosophy at Cambridge.

Eatwell could not be reached for comment Friday. Schofield said he did not feel he was in a position to comment.

Sources told the Guardian that Richard was “an exceptional candidate with great vision as well as experience.”

Richard – who is originally from Kent, England – has served as Yale’s provost since 1994 after joining the faculty in 1972. In her time at Yale, Richard has held positions in the departments of anthropology and environmental studies and in the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Richard was the director of the Peabody Museum from 1991 to 1994.

Richard studied at Cambridge and the University of London before coming to Yale.

The search for Broers’ replacement began in June. Broers – who has held the post for a maximum seven terms – will be replaced at the end of the current academic year.