Yale Provost Alison Richard — the University’s chief academic and financial officer — is slated to become the next vice-chancellor of the University of Cambridge in England, sources and media reports said.

Cambridge will announce Richard’s appointment as vice-chancellor of the university Wednesday, British news organizations recently reported.

Cambridge and Yale officials have declined to comment on recent speculation that the British-born Richard will replace Sir Alec Broers, Cambridge’s current vice-chancellor, when he steps down this year after a maximum seven years in the office.

Richard, who has been provost since 1994, could not be reached for comment.

While several Cambridge professors said they had not heard about the appointment, one said he had heard the next vice-chancellor would be a woman. In recent lists published by the British press, Richard was the only woman to appear as a candidate for the post.

Len Baker, a member of the Yale Corporation, said the Corporation had not discussed Richard’s move and that the appointment had not been officially announced. But he said Yale President Richard Levin e-mailed members of the Corporation to tell them about the reports in the British press.

British news organizations and other sources have speculated that Richard’s financial role at Yale was attractive to Cambridge, which is currently facing significant fiscal problems. The Board of Scrutiny, Cambridge’s watchdog, projected a university deficit of approximately $18 million for the 2002-03 fiscal year.

In addition to the deficit, Broers has been criticized for recent plans to reorganize Cambridge’s administration and for Cambridge’s shortage of women in senior positions. Currently, only 6 percent of Cambridge’s professors are female.

As provost and chair of Yale’s budget committee, Richard has helped steer Yale to six consecutive balanced budgets. Since the beginning of Richard’s tenure as provost, the University has invested approximately $1.3 billion in building and renovating the Yale campus.

Richard has also been commended for her efforts to increase minority and female recruitment at Yale. Since 1994, the number of tenured faculty in Yale’s faculty of arts and sciences has increased from 41 to 66.

Cambridge spokeswoman Louise Simpson told the British newspaper the Daily Telegraph that the new vice-chancellor will take the helm of a university “at a crossroads.”

“Whoever takes control will have to get the university back in the black,” Simpson said. “State funding has not been enough. Business partnerships will be part of the long-term plan and academic excellence.”

If Richard moves to Cambridge, Levin would be responsible for appointing a new provost. Historically, Yale provosts have often been members of the Yale faculty.

Yale officials declined to comment on possible replacements for Richard.

Judith Rodin, the only other provost to serve under Levin, left Yale in 1994 to become the president of the University of Pennsylvania.

Richard — born in Kent, England — arrived at Yale in 1972 after studying at Cambridge and the University of London. She is currently the Franklin Muzzy Crosby Professor of the Human Environment. Richard is a professor in the Anthropology Department and in the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

Richard has served in the post longer than any other provost since Charles Taylor, who held the office from 1964 to 1972.

Baker said while the Yale community will miss Richard, it is a credit to Levin that she is able to move forward.

“One of the signs of a great leader is that people who serve under that great leader go on to bigger and better things,” Baker said.