Yale Provost Alison Richard, the University’s chief academic and financial officer, will step down officially on Jan. 1, following her nomination for the vice-chancellorship of the University of Cambridge. Yale President Richard Levin said he plans to appoint Richard’s successor before Jan. 1.

Cambridge’s Council officially nominated Richard Wednesday to replace current Cambridge Vice-Chancellor Sir Alec Broers. Richard will take over for Broers on Oct. 1, 2003, for a set term of seven years.

In an e-mail Wednesday to Yale faculty and staff, Levin announced Richard’s departure and asked that recipients send him nominations for potential successors. Levin said as of Wednesday night he had received approximately 100 responses.

Levin said it will be impossible for the new provost to immediately fill Richard’s shoes, but he said he is confident he will find a successor.

“There are a great many talented faculty members at Yale,” Levin said. “I don’t see how we can miss here.”

Richard said she believes Levin will find a good replacement.

“I have total confidence in his judgment and wisdom,” Richard said.

Richard said it will be difficult to leave Yale after 30 years at the institution but said she is looking forward to the “new and interesting challenges” facing her at Cambridge.

“If I could carry from Yale to Cambridge the sense of collegiality and friendship, that would be wonderful indeed,” Richard said.

But Richard said she will not be a “lame duck” provost for the final month of her tenure.

“I ain’t dead yet,” Richard said. “I still have a key to 1 Hillhouse Ave., and I plan to hang on to it.”

Richard — a professor in the Department of Anthropology and the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies — said she will use her spring semester sabbatical to travel to Madagascar for two to three weeks and to focus on her research on lemurs. She said she wants to take the opportunity to get a sense of closure on her research, which has been a major focus of her academic career.

Richard’s nomination must now be approved by Regent House, Cambridge’s governing body. If 10 objections are not voiced within 10 days, the nomination is considered to have been approved.

Broers said in a Wednesday press release that he believes Cambridge will benefit from Richard’s experience and commitment.

“I am delighted that the Council chose to nominate Professor Richard, who is an outstanding candidate with impressive strategic skills, academic excellence and experience of financial management at the highest level. I am sure that we will have much to gain from her leadership,” Broers said.

Anthony Badger, a Cambridge professor and chair of the school’s search committee, said committee members thought Richard could steer the university through its current budget difficulties.

Badger also said Richard is known for assembling good teams around her and creating loyalty among the faculty.

“We need someone who can articulate the vision of the university to the outside world,” Badger said. “We also need someone who can explain the university to itself.”

Yale College Dean Richard Brodhead said Richard was an admirable figure who inspires love and devotion.

“[Richard’s] had what is in many ways the hardest job at Yale and she’s done it, not only well, but with great pluck and spirit,” Brodhead said.

In his e-mail, Levin said what has been most important about Richard has been “her unwavering commitment to excellence and her unfailing good judgment.”

Yale officials expressed regret at Richard’s departure but agreed it was a tremendous opportunity for Richard and for Cambridge.

“[Richard’s move] is a really wonderful thing,” Dean of Student Affairs Betty Trachtenberg said. “It speaks well for Yale that Cambridge asked for her.”

Princeton Provost Amy Gutmann said Cambridge officials asked her about Richard during their search. Gutmann said she told them Richard was a good match because in addition to her experience, she knows Cambridge from the inside, having studied there as an undergraduate.

“She has excellent judgment, she has the utmost integrity, and she has a wonderful imagination,” Gutmann said. “There couldn’t be a better appointment.”